HISTORY was made at the Portlaoise Rugby Football Club AGM last Wednesday with the first ever woman elected as Club Captain and the position of Rugby Chairperson was created.
Amy O’Callaghan from Portlaoise, is the first woman to be elected as Club Captain while Martin Reddin, also from Portlaoise, was elected as the first every Chairperson of Portlaoise Rugby Club.
The Club’s Constitution was recently changed at an EGM in order to ensure good governance and now includes the role of Club Chairperson as well as Chairs of a number of other committees including Facilities and Grounds, Rugby, Youths Rugby, Public Relations and Social Media, Clubhouse Bar and Disciplinary Committees.
Amy O’Callaghan is a French and Physical Education teacher in Heywood Community School. She is well known in sporting circles in Laois playing both football and camogie on top of her busy rugby schedule.
Amy started playing rugby in Portlaoise in 2007. She moved to Highfield in Cork in 2010 to attend UCC and while there played many years Division 1 AIL and earned caps for both Connacht and Munster before returning to Portlaoise in 2017.
The women’s team have had many successful seasons winning Division 3, Division 2 and eventually graduating to AIL Division 1 in 2008/2009 under Gordon Matthews, who is head coach again this year, Alan Flynn, and Cormac Gilman.
“I am honoured and very proud to be elected as Club Captain in Portlaoise. It speaks volumes about the support and confidence the club has in its women’s teams to break with tradition and elect a woman to the role for the first time,” said Amy.
“I am especially delighted as it paves the way for the young girls to see that they are viewed as equals in the eyes of their club. Traditionally rugby is a male dominated game, but our girls can see that they have as much a role in the club as everyone else and that their skills and knowledge are valued.”
Martin Reddin, who is a well-known construction businessman in Portlaoise, expressed his delight at being appointed Chair.
“This is an honour for me to be the first ever Chairperson of Portlaoise Rugby Club. I have been a member for many years and I’m delighted that my three sons also play rugby with PRFC. I firmly believe that everyone in the club wants the same thing and that is to play our part in developing the club to its fullest potential.
“I hope that the Executive Committee and the Chairs of the new committees will help in developing a Strategic Plan for Portlaoise Rugby Club that will not only help existing members, but also play its part in bringing in new members into this great club.”
Phillip Bradley was voted in again as President and commented: “There is no doubt but that last year was a strange year to be President due to the COVID pandemic. I greatly look forward to meeting players, parents and members of all ages over the coming season physically in Togher, rather than over Zoom and emails.”
Club Secretary Trevor Flanagan began the meeting by expressing condolences to the Delaney family on the recent loss of Ellen Delaney, who had just joined Portlaoise Rugby Club the year before. He also thanked all committee members for their extensive work done throughout the year.
Significant work has been undertaken in the past year at the club including the development of a new gym, installation of a disabled toilet and upgrade of ladies facilities as well as drainage works and much much more.
Additionally, work also continues with a major green infrastructure plan, spearheaded by Rugby Club member Johnny Fingleton, which could see the grounds potentially cater for the likes of basketball, hockey, tennis and athletics.
President, Philip Bradley
Vice President, Harry Nichols
PRO, Pauline Flanagan
Club Captain, Amy O Callaghan
Chairperson, Martin Reddin
Vice Chairman, Trevor Flanagan
Hon Secretary, Trevor Flanagan
Hon Treasurer, John Brennan
Club Welfare Officer, Jenny Keegan
Chairperson of Rugby, Roy Glynn
Chairperson of Facilities and Grounds, Ger McEvoy
Chairperson of Youths Rugby, Philip Bradley
Chairperson of Public Relations and Social Media, Denis Croke
Chairperson of Disciplinary Committee, Jason Meaney
Chairperson of Clubhouse (Bar), Functions and Social, Harry Nicholls
Men’s 1st Fifteen Captain, Ross Cooper
Women’s 1st Fifteen Captain, Amy O’Callaghan
The new Chairs will be targeting key members of the committee to set up sub-committees over the coming season.
Portlaoise Rugby Club always welcomes new members. Costs are as follows: Full membership €130; Student/Youth Membership €80; and Family €300. All details can be found on Portlaoise Rugby Club Facebook page or at bit.ly/joinprfc