Barnhall are Leinster club of the year

by Stephen Findlater

NUIM Barnhall were among the big winners at last weekend’s Leinster Rugby Awards Ball as they were honoured with the Canterbury Club of the Year.

It is part of a new lease of life for the Parsonstown club since linking up with NUI Maynooth five years ago, according to club PRO Peter Black who says it has been the major catalyst for the club.

“The spark was when we went into partnership with NUI Maynooth. We’re a club that don’t pay our players even though it is semi-professional sport,” he told GazetteSport.

“When we went into partnership with NUIM, we offered rugby scholarships and, five years on, we can now offer academic scholarships which has helped bolster our Under-20s and senior team squad.”

It has helped to significantly build the player base with new members attracted while they also are in a position to be one of just a few teams able to field seven senior teams.

The first team enjoyed a decent season in Ulster Bank Division 2A since promotion the season before while landing the Leinster Senior Shield. The second team won the Metro division two title while the third team finished third in their division.

With a fourth and fifth team, ladies team, Under-20s along with boys and girls youths and minis section, Black says the Blue Bulls “are one of only a few clubs that cover all aspects of rugby within Leinster”.

“We did expect to be this successful but not as soon. We had a five-year plan which we achieved by getting promoted this year and put in place another five year plan which we are now at the end of its first year and have won the Leinster Senior Club of the Year.

“For us, as a club it’s an unbelievable achievement as a club in division 2A, beating the likes of, say, Clontarf who won 1A and beat the Barabarians, St Mary’s and Terenure – all these very successful and very large clubs.

“It was about how we promoted ourselves throughout the year. We’ve invited touring teams from South Africa and University of Wisconsin while we also launched our new website which has been a great success, culminating in us winning PRO of the Month for April.

“President Michael Moseley deserves great credit. At 30, he is the youngest president in Irish rugby club history and he was behind all that went behind the scenes in the club to bolster how we promote ourselves.

“We would always have been a successful club but not many would have known about us but we wanted to change that and let people know about us and have the knock-on effect so that players would actually come to us.”

“We also set up several in-house committees to micro-manage the way the club was run and to manage the finances, building new dressing room facilities for women’s rugby and a new gym. Investment has been put into the ground so that we never have to close; we have pumped in nearly €50,000 over three years into maintenance and drainage systems which adds to the overall attraction of players to the club.”

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