With the XV-a-side club season now wrapping up it is the time of year that players and coaches can take a look back at their achievements for 2023/24 - and when the folk from Garnock do that they can do so with a lot of pride.

In the 2022/23 campaign the North Ayrshire outfit, who play at Lochshore in Beith, won West Regional League Division One thanks to 17 wins and just one defeat.

They knew that stepping up to National League Division Four for the campaign that is just finishing would be tough and things became even tougher when newly appointed club captain Lewis McGeachy suffered a serious knee injury in pre-season.

The 26-year-old second-row McGeachy recounts:  “We were playing against Hamilton Bulls in a friendly on a Friday night and I came down from jumping in the lineout and my left leg just planted in the ground.

“It turned out that I had ruptured my ACL and my meniscus and it was really gutting for me.

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“I had just been named captain of my local club and now I was coming to terms with being out for the whole season, but I soon got my head around it and worked out ways that I could be of use to the coaches and to the boys at training and on matchdays.

“Also, we had been planning for the season from the middle of May when, after winning West One, we had sat down as a collective and felt that we could give National Four a good go if everyone committed.

“We knew we’d be coming against some well-drilled sides and clubs that we had not played for a while, but that made the challenge exciting.

“Soon after that May meeting a few of us headed off on a trip to Spain to celebrate the West One title win and when we landed the fixtures for the season popped up on my phone.

“I looked at the first five and thought they were going to be crucial, but if that we could get on a good run from the then it would give us momentum.”

And so it proved because Garnock won those first five games of the league campaign against Ross High, Whitecraigs, Strathmore, Greenock Wanderers and Stewartry and never looked back.

“The boys played some great stuff early in the season and the away wins at Whitecraigs and Stewartry were particularly pleasing,” McGeachy, who has played at Garnock since the age of seven, said.

“They are not easy places to go and win, but the boys did it and it showed the mentality in the squad, particularly the Whitecraigs game in week two when we had a number of players missing due to injury.

“That five game run gave everyone confidence and a real desire to keep things going and as Christmas came and went we were still unbeaten.”

With McGeachy not on the pitch, vice-captains Matthew Shiells and Keir Walker were doing a great job in his absence at leading the squad.

On the sidelines, McGeachy was helping out coaching duo Grant Ruxton and Alex Donaghy.

Everything was going to plan and by early March they had won 15 out of 15 in the league and were champions-elect.

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“We then went to Strathmore and we took a supporters bus through with us because we knew if we won we would clinch the title,” McGeachy said.

“It was a real test for the boys, credit to Strathmore, and with 14 men at the end we could not hold out and they scored to win 26-25.

“At the time everyone was really frustrated because we were gunning for an unbeaten league season, but once the dust settled from that one [and defeat to National Two outfit Kirkcaldy the week after in the National League Cup] the boys were really focused on finishing the job in style.”

Finish in style they certainly did, a large crowd seeing them put Greenock Wanderers to the sword 66-7 on March 23 to make sure of the title and it was followed up by a 82-22 triumph at Murrayfield Wanderers on April 6.

That meant that they finished on 85 points from a possible 90 - including 16 try bonus points and one losing bonus point – thanks to 17 wins from 18 matches.

They beat their points tally from the West One win in 2022/23 (80) and finished 11 points clear of Strathmore in second.

As a result, things are good at Garnock just now and McGeachy, who has recently been named club captain again for next term and hopes to be back playing in October, concluded:  “There is such a great buzz about the club just now and because most of us are locals who have been involved with the club a while it means a lot.

“There is a great community-feel about the club, the youth section is growing all the time, after around 10 year break we know have a second XV out again and the plan is that they will be in a league next year while the first XV squad cannot wait to test ourselves once again at a higher level in National Three.”