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Promoted Boyne are flying high

THESE are early days; but they are good early days for Boyne Rugby Club.

The new graduates to the Ulster Bank All-Ireland League stand proud on top of Division 2B on the back of wins over fellow newcomers Sligo (21-20) out west and the Connemara All Blacks (27-22) at Shamrock Lodge last Saturday in what has been a remarkable rise through the ranks of club rugby.

Reaction

Boyne RFC emerged as recently as 1997, born out of an amalgamation between former local rugby club rivals Drogheda, founded in 1880, and Delvin, in 1953, as a reaction to the dwindling number of adult players in the wider Drogheda area.

The new entity took its initial steps out onto the field at the start of the 1997/98 season when it played its first match as a club against Skerries RFC at Bryanstown.

Auckland player/coach Craig McGrath has not been a hit-and-run mercenary. He travelled from Italy, where he played professionally for the club that has now morphed into Aironi, to start his chosen career as a coach at the start of the 2008/2009 season.

McGrath has imbued the players with a knowledge and appreciation of the game while scooping up the Provincial Towns Cup in 2009 and 2010.

"We have an attacking philosophy in the way we play the game. We are not going to change that. It has been labelled 'the Boyne brand'," he said.

System

"We have that style coming through from our underage system. Everyone tries to play the same way. It is something everybody in the club has bought into and we can see the obvious benefits from it."

Last season, Boyne earned the ultimate reward of qualifying for the All-Ireland League by losing just one match in the Leinster Senior League, consequently undergoing the transformation from junior to senior status.

"We are playing against teams that don't give up until the end. It is a different class of player. It has been a massive step for us. It is only going to get tougher," insisted McGrath.

There has been a clear policy of promotion of players from within.

Aucklander McGrath and flanker Glen Malone, from Balbriggan, are the two standout imports.

"The players are almost all home-bred and we have eight U21s in our senior squad at the moment.

"We've had a policy of bringing our youths through rather than bringing players in from outside the area."

They have made rapid progress to reel off two wins, the second in front of their biggest gate at Shamrock Lodge since McGrath arrived at the club.

"Yeah, we have had a good start. But, we are under no illusions. We have got our feet firmly on the ground. We are not going to get carried away with ourselves," he warned.

"There is a long way to go. We have a goal within our group.

"We think we are good enough to compete at the top level of this Division."

This is a place where heroes are made. Future professional rugby players Shane Horgan, Niall Ronan and Mark McHugh all found their calling in this part of the world.