Chairman hosts reception in honour of Enniskillen RFC

21st May 2019

Chairman of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, Councillor Howard Thornton, recently hosted a reception in honour of Enniskillen Rugby Football Club – winners of the Ulster Towns Cup 2019 – at the Townhall, Enniskillen.

Speaking at the reception on Wednesday 15 May 2019, Councillor Thornton said,

“As Chairman of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, I would like to extend a warm welcome to the Townhall, to the players management and committee of Enniskillen RFC in whose honour this afternoon’s reception is being held.

Over the course of my year as Chairman, I have been afforded the opportunity to recognises the successes of teams and individuals from the district across a wide range of sports and as my term ends, I am particularly pleased to be marking your success following you superb Towns’ Cup final win on Easter Monday.

I am also particularly pleased to be hosting this reception given that I had the privilege of representing the club in my playing career as a front row forward.

This year’s victory was a third Ulster Towns’ Cup success albeit there was an 82 year gap to the 2nd success back in 1937 with the club having recoded its first success in the competition in 1934.

A 19-0 victory against favourites and cup holders Ballyclare in the final at the Kingspan Stadium was well deserved delighting a large following of enthusiastic Skins fans who had taken over Headquarters for the day.

There is an old Rugby saying that forwards win matches, backs decide by how much. On this occasion however, the forwards had a massive say in the final scoreline as prop, Gavin Warrington crossed the whitewash twice while his fellow forward Richard Lee was the other try scorer on what was a very special day for the club, the players and the fans.

I would like to congratulate coach Stevie Welsh, captain, Ryan Cathcart and all the squad and coaching staff, who have brought such great honour and distinction to the town on the back of this success.

Many of the younger generation may not be familiar with the history of this great club. It was formed following a meeting in this very building in 1925 and has been a mainstay of sporting life in the town ever since. The club moved to its current home at Mullaghmeen in 1967 following a hitherto nomadic existence and the opening game at the ground between an Enniskillen select and an Army select was notable for the appearance in Enniskillen colours of a few ringers most notably, two of Munster and Ireland’s finest, Tom Kiernan and Noel Murphy.

The club has continued to develop in the intervening years with a thriving under age and ladies programme. Indeed, I had the honour of hosting receptions for the U-15 and U-18 ladies’ teams who won their respective Ulster titles earlier this year.

Representative Rugby has also long been a part of Enniskillen Rugby Club. Club player, Robin Pratt, represented Ireland back in the 1930’s while in more recent times, Robert Balacoune has represented Ireland in 7’s rugby and is now making a name for himself on the wing at Ulster in the 15 a side format. Former Enniskillen ladies players, Katherine Dane and Claire Boles, have also played for Ireland in the recent six nations series while there has been a multitude of representative honours gained by underage players. Indeed U-18 Ladies player, Zara Flack was the first ever recipient of the Danske Bank Girls Schools’ Player of the Year award at the Ulster Rugby Awards held just last week. Towns’ Cup try scoring hero, Gavin Warrington and fellow prop Gareth Beatty have also recently made their debut for the Ulster Junior Rugby team packing down either side of the front row against Connacht.

There are great things ahead for Enniskillen Rugby Club. I am confident with the talent coming through the under-age ranks and with your success in the Ulster Towns’ Cup, further success will come.

Once again, can I on behalf of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council and on my behalf, offer my sincere congratulations on your success and from an Enniskillen RFC old boy, can I wish you every success for the future.”