Ardee Rugby Club today confirmed the worst kept secret in local sport – the return of coach Ronan O’Brien Jnr to the playing squad for the 2017/18 season.
O’Brien returns to the Ardee RFC playing panel after three years at Boyne RFC, where he featured in the All-Ireland League and gained a lot of experience in the process. In 2016/17, he combined his playing duties with Boyne with coaching the Ardee senior side so he is more than acquainted with the current playing squad as the Townparks outfit chase league and cup success.
The 25-year-old has missed the start of the new campaign as he sat out a suspension following his departure from Boyne but now he is free to resume playing for his hometown club.
Under the tutelage of Enda Dunne and Shane O’Brien, Ardee RFC have started the season very well indeed. They beat Garda and Swords to hold a 100 percent record in the league and have also secured their place in the Jenkinson Cup semi-finals for later in the campaign.
O’Brien will now continue alongside Dunne and O’Brien in a player-coach capacity, where he will also work closely alongside captains Stephen Harmon and Conor Reilly – and vice-captain Ben O’Brien.
Last year, O’Brien had to watch from the sidelines as Ardee RFC won the Jenkinson Cup at Boyne’s Shamrock Lodge. A week later, he again had a watching brief as he saw Boyne lose their AIL status before travelling to Kells to see North Meath deny Ardee a cup double in 2017. Winning another cup will be a target, but so will league success this time around.
Speaking to ThisIsArdee.ie last May, O’Brien reflected on his first 12 season at the helm at Ardee RFC.
“It’s been a very successful year,” he told us. “We spent time with the group this year and that group we spent time with are developing into a team. I said to the lads halfway through the season we might not win anything this year but in five years time we’ll have this team cemented. It’s been a great year.
“I train with Boyne to a higher level and I told the lads last night, this training is like Boyne training – 25 lads here every week getting the job done, working hard for eachother, does everything physical and then has the craic after. We have good team bonding.”
His team have two more Leinster League games in October, both on home soil as Athboy and then Clane visit Townparks.
MAIN PHOTO CREDIT: Ardee Rugby Club Facebook