Connacht Rugby recently announced the Player/Club Ambassador Programme for the 2019/ 2020 season. Creggs RFC welcomes Stephen Fitzgerald, who join Cregg’s and Connacht’s own Denis Buckley who have been selected as our two Connacht Player/Club Ambassadors.
This programme involves each club in Connacht being paired with two pro or academy players who will act as their ambassadors for the remainder of the campaign. Over the coming months these players will be made available to the clubs for a number of visits, with the club deciding how best to utilise their skills and expertise for those visits.
This is the third year of the Player Ambassador Programme and its aim is to build on relationships that exist between the playing squad and grassroots rugby in the province.
Stephen Fitzgerald (born 13 November 1995) plays primarily as a fullback, but can also play on either wing. Fitzgerald joined Connacht, where his younger brother Conor is an academy player, on a three-month loan deal in December 2018. He made his debut for Connacht in their 21–12 win against Ulster in round 12 of the 2018–19 Pro14 on 28 December 2018, replacing Kyle Godwin in the 63rd minute. He also represents Shannon in the All-Ireland League.
Born in Ardnacrusha, County Clare, Fitzgerald first began playing rugby aged 7 with Shannon. He attended Ardscoil Rís, Limerick and lost finals at both Junior and Senior Cup level with the school.
His quality was spotted at an early stage and he represented Munster in all under-age grades, as well as playing Under-19s and Under-20s with Ireland.
He made his debut for Ireland Under-20s on 13 February 2015, starting against France Under-20s in the 2015 U20 Six Nations and scoring a try. He also represented Ireland Under-20s at the 2015 World Rugby Under 20 Championship, scoring two tries against Scotland Under-20s on 20 June 2015.
He went on to make his PRO12 debut with Munster in September 2015 against Ospreys at the Liberty Stadium, scoring his first senior try. Later in the season he featured in the Ireland Men’s 7s squad and made five Munster A appearances in the B&I Cup.
At the start of the 2017-18 season he was awarded a senior contract with Munster Rugby. In December 2018, he signed a short-term deal with Connacht, and this was extended and then converted into afull-time move to Connacht earlier this year. Stephen is highly regarded by Connacht Rugby as a very talent back three player.
Connacht Rugby extended Denis Buckley’s contract earlier this year that will see him remain at his home province until at least the end of the 2020-21 season.
The Roscommon native has made well over 160 appearances for Connacht since making his debut as an Academy player in 2011.
Denis has previously been part of Irish underage squads at Under-18 and Under-20 level. In 2018, he played on the Barbarians side that defeated England in Twickenham.
In addition to the strong association as a former player with Creggs Rugby, Denis Buckley has been very generous with his time and assistance in coaching in Creggs and we look forward to working with Denis and Stephen for the remainder of this season.