Damian McGlynn Community Hero Finn Valley Rugby Club May 2018

Damian McGlynn Community Hero Finn Valley Rugby Club is a native of Curraghamone is the Finn Valley Community Hero for this month. Damian is married to Veronica and the couple have three children, Cliona, Alannah and Grace. He works as a veterinary medicine sales representative for Osmonds for the past 27 years and he also represents a grass seed company called DLF Trifolium which is based in Denmark.
His work is very much farm related and this reflects his upbringing on the family farm. Prior to his working life Damian went to school in St Columba’s Stranorlar before advancing to St. Patrick’s Agricultural College in Monaghan where he studied agriculture and completed modules in crop management and animal husbandry. He leads a very busy lifestyle and due to the nature of his work is on the road quite a bit. It is always a major commitment for those involved in community to juggle their work life and their roles as volunteers, and indeed Damian is no different.
First Community Involvement

Finn Valley Rugby Club Commuity Hero

Founding Members of Finn Valley Rugby Club with Ulster Representatives left to right Damian Mc Glynn F.V.R.F.C Graham Cattermole Ulster Rep Gerard Doherty F.V.R.F.C Jeremy Davidson Ulster Rugby Bobby Stewart Ulster Rep Jonathan Cowan F.V.R.F.C Kate Boyle F.V.R.F.C Cillian Willis Ulster Rugby Catherine Mcmenamin F.V.R.F.C Barry Laverty F.V.R.F.C Not Pictured J.C Bonnar Paddy Mc Menamin Phillip Heapes

Having always had a love of watching Rugby, Damian eventually decided to get involved in training with Letterkenny Rugby Club. He also has a family connection with Jonathan Llewhellin a Welsh native living in Donegal who was the Rugby Development Officer for Donegal. Through discussion with Jonathan, Gerard Doherty and Damian the idea emerged to develop a local Rugby club in the Twin Towns. They also contacted a number of Rugby enthusiasts in the locality and together began to look at the idea for forming a club. These individuals were Gerard Doherty, Jonathan Cowan, JC Bonner, Rory Farrell, Paddy McMenamin, Catherine Boyle and Catherine McMenamin and Barry and Cheryl Laverty and when they came together, as they say “the rest is history”.

Finn Valley Rugby Club

In September 2009 the Finn Valley Rugby Club was set up and it was officially launched on 16th April 2010 in the Balor Theatre.
As with many clubs and groups they start with a small number of dedicated individuals and parents and in 2009 the club had approx. 20 -25 members. The following year they had doubled this number with 50 kids at u12 mini’s level. Today they have went from strength to strength and now have over 100 members between the different age groups and they cater from age 6 to senior level and are always looking for new members. The club is open to both girls and boys.
Damian’s official role in the club is that of Vice Chairperson and u12’s coach. Prior to this he held the position of Chairman for the previous three years. He puts in approximately three hours weekly training children and then gets involved in other administration tasks and fundraising which is continually required in the development of a new club.
Early Success

Finn Valley RFC Community Hero

Finn Valley RFC U18S TEAM that reached the Ulster Bowl Final April 2018

Ulster Level Success

For such a relatively young club the Finn Valley Rugby Club has already made it’s mark on the Rugby scene at Ulster level with the u18’s managed by Barry Laverty and Declan Malley doing exceptionally well having beaten Limavady 24 to 12 to earn their place in the Ulster Bowl Final against Instonian’s of Belfast which was held in the Multi Sports Centre in Cookstown.

Finn Valley RFC Community hero

Adam Marley & Cody Laverty playing for Ulster u18’s

This group won a bowl final at u16 level two years ago and everyone at the club is extremely proud of the team and their early success augers well for the future of Rugby in the Finn valley area and is quite an achievement for a developing club based in a rural area with no historical links to the sport. The club regularly take part in competitions and one of the highlights for them was when two of their players, Adam Marley and Cody Laverty were selected to play on the Ulster Academy u18’s team, who have played against both Connacht and Munster.
They naturally have great pride in the achievements of the two local ladies Larissa Muldoon and Laura Feely who have both played on the Irish Women’s team and they are great examples to all the club members who strive to replicate what they have achieved. It is a great asset to have both ladies willing and happy to share their experience and training advice with the club and sets the bar at the highest level for up and coming members. Another high achiever, Shannon Heapes, daughter of committee member, Gerard Doherty has played on the Ulster Women’s Team and is another great supporter of the club and its members.

Junior Rugby

Finn Valley RFC Community Hero

Finn Valley RFC U12S Taking Part in a Rugby Game @ Kingspan Stadium (Ravenhill )in the Ulster V La Rochelle Game January 2018. Wearing their New Kit Kindly Sponsored by Cherrymore Kitchens

Junior age groups take part in blitzes and they develop through the various levels. These levels are coached by the following coaches at the club Mini’s Rugby, u12’s Damian McGlynn, U10’s Tony Foy and Tommy Campbell, Youth’s u14’s coaches are Kevin Arenhold, Joe Moore and Damian O’Reilly, Youth’s coaches are Barry Laverty, Declan Malley and Gerard Doherty.
Mini’s Level U12’s have approximately 40 children training every Saturday morning at the Finn Valley Centre from 10am to 11.30am and Damian enthusiastically states that it’s fantastic to see so many kids enjoying the game and developing their skills. They take part in Rugby county blitzes each month at one of the six clubs within the county giving them great experience of meeting and competing against other teams. New children are welcome to join at any stage, and with a chance to progress and play in the Kingspan Stadium (Ravenhill) during the interval of an Ulster official European Cup game which they do each year, it gives the younger members a something to aspire to and provides for a great motivational opportunity. This experience is fantastic at such a young level as they can be playing against any international team.  The club has recently started Wee Rugby aimed at 3-5 year olds. Training is non-contact and is carried out uing fun, games and drills.  Sessions will develop core game skills and provide a stepping stone to the Mini’s Rugby which is for ages 6 – 12 years old. Training for Wee Rugby also takes place at Finn Valley Centre, Stranorlar and those interested can contact Kevin on 00353/892131754.

Damian is a firm advocate of the sport and states that “for young kids getting involved in Rugby it is a great way to learn discipline, respect, and it helps develop a healthy approach to life and fitness in general as well as developing social skills”. He further goes on to say that “children also learn that in the game, when the referee speaks, it’s final, and there is no room for on field arguments and any on field discussion must go through the team captain”. This great sense of discipline and conduct is one of the key differences in Rugby and other professional sports and provides a great example to younger children who look up to their sporting heroes. Children who get involved in the game are also taught to take pride in their jersey and be professional at all times, even when off the field of Rugby.

Michael Mc Colgan pictured with the Ulster team, the first Finn Valley FRC player to pull on the Ulster Jersey

Community Support

There is always an enormous effort involved in developing a new club and great praise is due to Damian and the entire committee. Damian however, is clear that the club needs the support of the wider community to continue to sustain and grow and with that in mind both he and the committee would like to thank the local community for their generosity during fundraising events. The current kit sponsors are; U12’s minis – Cherrymore Kitchens, U14th – JJ Reid Motors, Senior Team – McGuigians Bar, U16’s – Public Image Hair Salon, U18’s Michael Carr Architects’ and Engineers.
A massive thanks must also go to all the sponsors who have supported the club from the very beginning. Sponsors through the Past 10 years McGuigan’s Bar, Cherrymore Kitchens, Agripower ( John Deere), J.J Reid Motors, Public Image Hair Salon, Carr Architects & Engineers, JF Mc Glynn & Sons, The Hatter Tea Room, Brimac Alarms, Terraclean Donegal Cleaning Services, Mc Brides Joinery, Alan Reid Design, Villa Rose Hotel, Harkins Gala, Quinn Fuels, Jackson’s Hotel, Alexanders Stores, Multicrete, Bonners Pharmacy, Viking Fit, Bonnars Quarry, Flatley’s Chemist, Alice Bonner Andies, Kee’s Hotel, Supervalu, Donegal Tractors, The Snug Bar, Marks & Spencer’s, Aldi, Conkers, Bonners Bar, Lidl, Credit Union, Allied Irish Bank, Bank of Ireland, Ulster Bank, Navenny Grill, Mc Elhinney’s Stores, Gallagher’s Butchers, Gallagher’s Bakery, Holmes Travel ( Coaches), Lafferty Transport, Mc Namee’s Coach Hire, Raitts Hardware Store, Marley’s Coach Hire, Mc Cools Sawmill, John Dory’s Restaurant, Chinatower Restaurant, Pinergy Electricity Supply, Osmonds Veterinary, Mc Glynn Agri, Dlf Trifolium Grass-Seeds, Ballybofey Autofactors, Mc Connell Butchers, Pat Mc Gowan, John Patton Igloo, Mace Ballybofey, Glenside Stores, Mr G’s, Mark Mc Connell (Consultancy), Airtricity, Gallen Insulation, Rite Financial, Dunnion’s Car Sales, Joey O Leary Financial, O’Malley & Scanlon.

Without their help the club would not exist. They would also like to express their thanks to Patsy McGonagle and the team at the Finn Valley Athletics Centre for the excellent facilities and pitches that have been made available to the club. Damian also pays tribute to the committee members, trainers and coaches who all give of their time and indeed to all the parents who are willing to roll up the sleeves and get stuck in when needed.  He would also like to thank his wife, Veronica for all her help and support over the past nine years with the club.  As he says “When I’m away with rugby she has to deal with everything at home and there is also the washing of the rugby kits which she does”, so it’s very much a team effort in the McGlynn household.

Future plans

There is a collective vision for the club, and that is to continue to build membership and raise awareness of the sport in the Finn Valley area with the longer term goal being to have their own club house at some point in the future. This will be no mean feat, but Damian and the committee are definitely committed to this goal. If you would like to get involved with the club or help/contribute in any way they can be contacted through their Facebook page @finn.valleyrfc or by calling along to training and talking to any of the coaches.

Having developed from humble origins back in 1971, the Finn Valley Athletics Centre is very aware of the commitment that it takes to build a club and to continually develop facilities. It is therefore encouraging to see new and exciting clubs and groups flourishing in the locality and there is no doubt that all these combined are the reason that this area of county Donegal is designated as a sports hub for the entire county. Long may this strong sporting representation continue to thrive in the area and best wishes and continued success to the Finn Valley Rugby Club, its committee and to this month’s Community Hero Damian McGlynn.