Tuam RFC

Founded 1970

Co. Galway

Club Profiles Seàn Higgins


(This piece was done on the 14th December 2020)

With thirty-two years loyal service given to Tuam RFC, including twenty five as a player and twenty as a committee member, SEAN HIGGINS is this week's focus in our club profiles.


Sean's rugby journey has seen him enjoy underage, Ard na Cregg and league success with Tuam while his involvement with Connacht Rugby juniors as manager the past seven years means he is a well known rugby figure throughout the province.


However back in 1988 it looked like the Kilconly man would be embarking on a GAA career rather than a rugby one. He says, "I was up at county football trials when I got chatting to Dygo and Dermot Fahy. We went to different secondary schools but I knew them from playing against them in GAA games. They asked me would I go to under 18 rugby training Friday night so I said why not. It was one of the best decisions I ever made because not only did I like the sport but I made friends who became friends for life."


Sean and his new teammates were defeated in the under 18 cup semi-final but at under 20 level they were victorious. Sean believes it was during this successful season when he really developed a love for the game of rugby.


"Paul Cosgrove and John McCarthy were over the under 20 team and they were just brilliant. We trained really hard but it was also great craic. We were an extremely fit team. John and Cossie had us running up and down hills, often crawling on our knees while John threw smelling salts at us.


"We reached the cup final which was no surprise really given that we were so well coached and had a great team too. To name but a few we had Paddy Halion, Austin Connelly, Jimmy Maughan, Mickey O Connor, Hubie O Neill, Nibs McGrath, Dygo and Rory Murphy. We played Creggs in the final and we bet them by one score. I remember Rob Lee scoring the try from a block down. It was a great occasion and it created a great bond between one another which still stands to this day. I mightn't have seen some of that team for years but when we bump into each other that connection is still there," says Sean.


It wasn't long before Sean was called into the first team. Having played predominantly as a second row at underage, he played back row throughout his time with the firsts. "A few of us were called into the first team for a cup semi-final against Galwegians. We had a very young team and they had home advantage and unfortunately they beat us on the day," says Sean.


Having experienced his first taste of junior rugby, Sean would go on to play for the club for over two decades. "When I started we used to play up in Garraun Park but shower down behind the Imperial Hotel (now the Corralea Court Hotel). Not many lads had cars back then so 3 or 4 of us would open the boot, leave it open and sit in it and travel down to the Imperial Hotel to get a shower. We'd go into the hotel then for food, pints and a sing song. The craic would be just mighty."


In the 1999/2000 season Sean was appointed captain and as a result became a committee member which he remains to this day. "Getting the captain's armband was a great honour, particularly because when I started for Tuam, my first cousin John Higgins was captain. He was someone I looked up to. I played on for a few more years before I decided to switch to seconds.


"There was a four year period when we enjoyed success at seconds. We won Ard na Cregg one season followed by league, then Ard na Cregg and then league again. There was at least eight of us over forty. We were like the golden oldies," laughs Sean.


He also donned the Connacht jersey when he played for their junior team on nine occasions. Sean has particularly fond memories of their victory over Munster when he lined out with his good friend and Tuam colleague, the late Paddy Halion.


"To play Munster on their home patch with Connacht and defeat them was a fantastic experience. It was just another great day in my life that rugby has given me. To share it with my great friend Paddy Halion was extra special. Paddy was a great character and a great person. We used to travel to games together and shared many good memories. I miss him greatly."


Paddy's sudden death in September 2012 plunged the club into sadness. He was a huge part of the club and to keep his memory alive, the Paddy Halion memorial game was set up. This involved a select over forties Galway team playing a select over forties Mayo team in an annual final with the venue alternating on a yearly basis between Mayo and Galway. Sean like many of his former teammates came out of retirement to play in memory of their dear friend Paddy.


"I thought it was a lovely touch and only right for Paddy. The event is always well supported which shows how highly regarded Paddy was. A lot of lads who would have played against Paddy compete in this game which speaks volumes. The cup is then presented to the victorious captain by a member of the Halion family. His mother Nora has often presented the cup."


Sean did eventually call time on his competive playing career when he took up a few coaching and managing roles.


Along with Jimmy Maughan he is over the Tuam under 18 team however this season has been severely affected by covid 19. For the past seven years Sean has been part of the management team of the Connacht juniors. 


"Myself and Tony McDonagh were managing the Connacht juniors for two years and for the past five myself and Declan Slattery are involved. It requires more organising than coaching. It's great because you get to know current players from clubs all over the province while you bump into lads you played against years ago. The team might be playing in Headford then you go into the Anglers Rest after and you could meet an old friend and you wouldn't have to put your hands in your pocket. Mind you they might be throwing drink at you by the end of the night," laughs Sean.


As he looks at the club now, Sean is proud of where the club is and optimistic about the future. 


"The club is in great shape. We have a great first team and coaches and the numbers at mini rugby are incredible. The club really is in good health. The committee we have is also doing fantastic work and it's just great to be part of a great club," concludes Sean.

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