Friday October 27 signals the start of this year’s volleyball intervarsity. I decided to go down and visit their training last Wednesday.
Upon entering the Kingfisher Hall, I was greeted with a raucous atmosphere. It was clear they were already in complete prep for this weekend.
This year, the University of Galway has been chosen to host this fantastic tournament. It will feature the top 12 volleyball teams in Ireland for male and female categories. Initial predictions expect more than 300 of our best athletes from around the country participating.
The club is in high spirits, with both teams entering the tournament in scintillating form. The women are just off the back of winning the SSI league, while the men’s team come into the tournament as defending champions. Last year, they made history as they became the first team from the University to win the tournament.
Head coach Luke Uniacke believes that success for both teams is very much on the cards, mentioning that a spot in the European championships would potentially be up for grabs this weekend.
“We are excited to bring the biggest volleyball tournament in Ireland to Galway this weekend. Our teams have prepared well, both men’s and women’s teams. Most of all, we are looking for a big performance as the host university and, of course, to defend our title as men’s champions.
“The women’s team have put themselves in a position to compete for the gold and look forward to a weekend of high-level volleyball, and hopefully, we can come out on top,” said Uniacke.
There is a true sense of something exceptional happening within this club. As impressive as their performances on the court have been, the most striking thing about the entire experience was the sense of fun.
This club focuses on having fun and looking after one another before all else, something very commendable. In an era where sports clubs are often solely driven by success, witnessing a club that places its members first and values the experience more than the results was exceptional.
As men’s team captain Peter McGlynn said, “This club has something for everyone. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced player, we all get the chance to play volleyball in a welcoming environment.”
“You can feel the sense of camaraderie in the club and the togetherness within both teams. There are no egos involved. These are two teams solely focused on achieving success together.”
Club captain and women’s team captain Danny Bowers said “I love how it feels like a family. You join and make bonds you didn’t think you’d get the opportunity to have.”
For many of the players, this weekend could play out to be the greatest weekend of their sporting lives. A victory in varsities is rare, but a shot at winning it at home in front of your friends and family is a once-in-a-lifetime chance.
This weekend promises to be a momentous occasion, and the club hopes it will put on a sensational show and hopefully get their hands on both the men’s and women’s cups.
We must show both teams the support they deserve. I cannot speak highly enough of the club; their love for their sport is infectious, and their attitude and work rate in the lead-up to the tournament has been exceptional.
However, no matter how the tournament goes, they have earned my utmost respect. To follow along with the action this weekend, check out their Instagram page.