A club on the rise

Rugby: Wexford Wanderers Awards

Brendan Furlong at Park Lane

Wexford Wanderers under-17 who received their medals from club president Brian McGonigal on Friday evening. Photo: Ger Hore
Wexford Wanderers under-17 who received their medals from club president Brian McGonigal on Friday evening. Photo: Ger Hore
Senior Player of the Year award winner Paul Gannon gets his award.
Coach of the Year award winner Roin Reynolds collects his award from club President Brian McGonigal
Under-16 Player of the Year award winner Sean Kelly collects his award from club President Brian McGonigal
Wexford Wanderers RFC Club Person of the Year award winner Bettie Marie Smit receives her award from club President Brian McGonigal

The progress of Wexford Wanderers Rugby Club in the season just ended was acclaimed at the club's end of season presentation night on Friday last.

As they moved to get the club firing again to capitalise on the success of their under-age structure, the club for the first time in many seasons fielded three adult teams, while they also competed successfully at under-age level bring a whole new basis to the game in the capital town.

Wexford Wanderers look set to progress the game even further once the new season arrives, with their fate being very much decided by their hugely successful under-age structures, which is now progressing right through to adult level, as they fielded one of their youngest sides through a successful 2016-17 adult season.

A feature of the night was the presentation of the various club awards, while there was an extra gloss to the occasion, with news having filtered through that two of their former under-age players, Greg McGrath and Jack Stafford, had been included in the Ireland squad for the World Cup Under-20 which gets under way next month.

Greg grew up in Wicklow town where he began playing rugby with Wicklow at seven years of game.

Having moved to Wexford he joined the Wanderers, where his love for the game was formed through the excellent coaching set-up in the club.

Rugby has been a dream for the former Bridgetown Vocational Colleges player, little else matter, regular training in all sorts of weather.

He progressed through the ranks with Wexford Wanderers, up to the south-east squads, from there to Leinster at 17 years, travelling up and down to Dublin and Carlow two to three times weekly for training. He has played for Ireland getting his first cap at 18 years, and on completing school he linked up with Lansdowne, where he has met with such success at U-21 level. He earned his first cap against England in the U-21 Six Nations this and is now looking forward to the World Cup and fronting up against the best in the front row.

Jack Stafford commenced his rugby career with Wexford Wanderers in 2004 at the early age of 6 years, under the then encouragement of James O'Connor.

He progressed through the under-age sections playing predominantly at scrum-half, winning a Leinster medal with the club at under-12, when aged just 10 years.

At the age of 13, Jack went to boarding school at Glenstal Abbey School in Limerick, captaining the 2015/16 senior cup team to win the Limerick City Cup that same year.

He progressed through the various Munster rugby institutions featuring in the Under-20 inter-provincial series in September 2016.

He joined Shannon Rugby Club in 2016 and has established himself as a regular on the club's firsts senior team.

He was capped for Ireland in the 2017 Under-20 Six Nations, and has also been selected on the bench for the Munster 'A' team for the semi-final of the British and Irish Cup.

Along with Greg he is now part of the Irish squad for the upcoming World Cup.

Wexford Wanderers Awards

Under-16 Player of Year: Sean Kelly.

Under-17 Player of Year: Josh O'Connor.

Under-18 Player of Year: Mark Power.

Girls Player of Year: Saoirse McGuinness.

Womens Player of Year: Aoife Finnerty.

Young Player of Year: Sean Redmond.

Senior Player of Year: Paul Gannon.

Coach of Year: Eoin Reynolds.

Club Person of Year: Bettie Marie Burger-Smit.

Special Achievement Award: Maurice Logue who coached Tullow to first ever Provincial Towns Cup.

The awards were presided over by Club Chairman, Declan Rossiter, who paid tribute to everyone for making the season such a huge success and also their sponsors, Zurick Insurance. for their continued support.

Wexford People

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