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We Are Goat Nation

18 September 2014

My first experience of the Skerries rugby diaspora, was watching the tape as a teenager of Michael Branagan and Mark O’Connor’s commentary of the Leinster Senior Cup semi-final win over Terenure College in May 1998 in Stradbrook, Blackrock.

“One thinks of the Skerries diaspora, who’d love to be here today,” Bash mused, as Skerries were within minutes of their first Leinster Senior Cup final. “The Ross McNally’s (Brisbane) and Mark Ryan’s (then living in the US) who’d be so proud of the calibre of our running game and the fact that we’re heading for the cup final.”

Since those heady days of 1998, the Skerries rugby diaspora has multiplied sweeping from Vancouver to Melbourne, taking rich pickings from the numbers to leave the sinking Irish economy from 2008/9 onwards.

Much is made in the media of how GAA clubs have been decimated by emigration but there’s little doubt rugby clubs have also felt the pinch. Skerries has suffered no more than other clubs. Indeed at a memorable pre-match dinner in Nenagh Ormond in 2012, the mother of Nenagh’s captain told of how her two other sons, key players for Nenagh the year before, were now scattered around the globe alongside two other guys from the previous year’s team.

Last year while I was living in Australia, it was great to see two Skerries brothers Seamus and Eddie O’Mahony – both club men – contribute handsomely to Sydney Irish winning the Grand Final of the NSW Suburban league in the clubs ever first season.

Whether you’ve been involved with clubs overseas or outside of Skerries, your ties to your home club tend remain strong. Those friendships and memories that last through the years were evidenced in the Q&A earlier this week with former player Paddy O’Sullivan, now based in Brisbane, which has generated huge interest amongst the Skerries fraternity online.

I have fond memories of waking up at 3am on the lower north shore of Sydney Harbour and checking Twitter for updates. Nice to know that from 17,000 kilometers from home you can keep abreast of events in Holmpatrick courtesy of the club’s well-oiled social media machine, with scores, pictures and match reports available online a short period after the match.

Whether you’re logging onto the club website in Beijing to check the score in a league game in Cashel or planning a trip home from London to coincide with Friday Night Lights in Holmpatrick, we’d like to hear from you this season as we reaffirm our commitment to stay in touch with Skerries folks around the world and interact with them.

Over the coming weeks and months of this season, we’ll be featuring interviews with club members and former players from abroad, dotted round Ireland and even unearth one or two gems closer to home. The series will also look to feature interviews from members of other clubs with fond memories of playing in Skerries. If you have any suggestions or think you know of a suitable candidate please drop us a line. A gentle reminder for the Skerries fans overseas that Overseas Membership is only EU50 and is a great birthday or Christmas present for family and friends. You’ll find more information on the club website about the package.

Skerries rugby club is proof that clubs known for their Corinthian values, fantastic community backbone and a thriving underage structure that pushes quality players through to senior ranks can always thrive.

Whatever happened to those decorated Sydney Irish brothers I hear you ask? One of them is in fact active for the club this weekend.

As we head into our first UBL 2A league game tomorrow night against Old Wesley, it’s time to continue enjoying the spirit of the running game and remember – we are Goat Nation.