ERFC BACK IN TRAINING AS THEY LOOK TO THE START OF A NEW SEASON
The Senior Mens section of ERFC enjoyed a period of rejuvenation last season to say the least, coming off the back of a turbulent 2013/2014 campaign which saw a young promising side struggling to find form, cursed with injuries and eventually just avoiding relegation by the skin of their teeth. The departure of Alasdair Mckee left the side in disarray without a coach and undoubtedly fearful for what the future held for Enniskillen Rugby.
Thankfully many factors went Enniskillen’s way and laid the foundation for a resurgence, the first being long time club stalwart Norman Richmond stepping in to fill the coaching void, and undoubtedly having a settling influence on the men as well as contributing to the cohesion of the team with his years of experience, this along with Ulster Juniors representative Jamie Johnston taking the reins as Club Captain meant sound leadership for the new look Skins. Another vital factor was the acquisition of personnel in key positions; the return of Nick Finlay to full time availability at outhalf, Gareth Beatty to tighthead prop, Ashley Finlay to fullback and Nathan Richmond coming in at centre all proved to be immeasurably effective in galvanising the 1st XV, and of course players such as Conor Hoy coming through from the youth section and stepping up to show their potential at 1st XV level only added to the depth of the squad.
Despite the substantial personnel reshuffle Enniskillen settled into their new season excellently and ended up with one of their most successful campaigns in years, reaching a Junior Cup semi-final, a Towns Cup quarter-final and achieving a 4th place league finish, as well as supplying two representatives, Nick Finlay and Jamie Johnston, to the Inter-Pro title winning Junior Ulster Squad. Despite all the success the side will undoubtedly feel they let some opportunities slip through their fingers during the season in some of the big games, a home defeat to local rivals Omagh a glaring example of one of numerous fixtures they could have won to compete for top honours in the league.
Approaching the 2015/16 Season Enniskillen are in a much better place than they were previously with a more successful level of player retention as well as the prospect of some pivotal players returning. Another settling factor for the 1st XV will be maintaining their coaching structure along with some new personnel. Newly elected Club President Norman Richmond continues on as Head Coach with Ashley Finlay returning as Backs Coach for their second year while long serving player Stevie Welsh will assist with forwards coaching as John Courtney comes into a Team Manager role. After yet another solid season past captain Alan Wilkinson will take on the captaincy role once again as a clear indication that the motivation, even amongst the veteran players, is alive and well.
“I am obviously looking forward to the new season. We have a strong coaching team with Ashley and Stevie working under Norman. This combined with superb player retention and a few new signings will allow us to build on the positive work done last year. If we can maintain good numbers at training and competition for places throughout then the entire club will have a successful season.”
Richmond too seems very encouraged by the support base he has built at the club for the season and clearly feels they’re in an excellent position to mount a challenge in the league.
“I’m really just looking forward to building on the momentum generated from last season. I believe we have the potential to further develop players and push hard for league honours in the coming season. With Alan Wilkinson returning as Club Captain for next season and his strong leadership qualities that he has it bodes well. Jamie Johnston will now be able focus purely on his game and hopefully continue the excellent form that he displayed all last season and a very successful inter pro with the Ulster Juniors. Stevie Welsh will step in to assist with the forward coaching and Ashley Finlay will continue to work with the back line and John Courtney will help with the management of the 1XV. I have a strong team around me and it bodes well for next season.”
Pre-season training will be held at Enniskillen Rugby Club every Tuesday and Thursday at 7pm starting next Tuesday 7th July. All men over the age of 18 are welcome to attend for improving general fitness aimed at Rugby competition.