Enniskillen Rugby Club have appointed Alastair Keys as their new Director of Rugby for the upcoming season.

The experienced long time member has filled numerous positions at the club over the past 20 years, and he will now take on the head coaching role as well as overseeing a collaborative approach throughout the club

“It will definitely be a big challenge, but I am excited by it,” said Alastair.

“It is head coach, but it is also an overview of all the various teams and sections of the club together, and to make sure there is some common thread running through everything.

“I’m really looking forward to working again with a lot of players that I know from coaching at minis and then school, as well as the exciting talent that has been developed through the club’s youth system.

“It will very much be a team effort, from a coaching perspective, and I’d include all the coaches and volunteers, who do so much right across the club, in that.”

Keys will be assisted in his head coach role by Ryan Cathcart, who continues his pivotal role as strength and conditioning coach.

Raymond Savage, who has experience in youth coaching at ERGS, ERFC and with Ulster Regional Development squads, comes in as forwards’ coach for the senior men, with specialist scrum sessions by Rodney Balfour, who is also the Senior Women’s coach.

Senior player James Carlton will assist with the lineout while Connor Keys, who had to retire early from playing, will be backs’ coach, with specialist assistance from former player and coach, Ashley Finlay.

The senior women will continue under the continued guidance of Jimmy Moore, after a successful season that saw them crowned ‘NI’s Ladies Sports Club of the Year’. Simon O’Hare continues to build the boys section as Convenor and coach.

Trevor Whittaker, Chair of Rugby at the club, welcomed Alastair into his new role, and paid tribute to outgoing coach Stevie Welsh and outgoing President Freddie Frazer, who will be replaced in the Presidency role by Tommy Dane.

“The senior men’s section have been left in a strong position by former coach Stevie Welsh,” said Whittaker.

“Welsh assisted the renowned Willie Gibson in taking the squad up a level, before himself taking up the baton, guiding the squad to two major cup wins in 2019/20 seasons, as well as an All-Ireland Junior and Ulster Junior cup final last season.

“Freddie Frazer has also completed his successful term as President, guiding the club through the unprecedented Covid era, and taking on the responsibility for an extra season to ensure the smooth transition back to normality.

“The club would like to thank both for their contribution and service to the club during their terms.

“Our vision is to continue to make Enniskillen RFC truly a club for the whole Fermanagh community where both facilities and coaching across the sections match the ambitions of all our members,” he continued.

“The aim is to bring enjoyment and success in equal measure throughout our expanding club”

On the field of play there are set to be a few changes as well. Michael Rooney will depart to play at Queens in final year at University and young hooker Peter Read has also been ruled out by a knee injury.

Coming back is front row and club captain Stephen Fox, who missed last season through knee surgery, and joining him are Angus Keys and Stephen Balfour, almost fully fit again after similar knee injuries, as is Tomas Scallon after a leg break.

Fly-half Eddie Keys is on placement in Fermanagh and will be available full time this season, and the experienced James Ferguson also returns.

Pre-season matches begin in August, with ERFC hosting ladies and girls interprovincials between Ulster and Connacht on August 5 and 12.