BALBRIGGAN RFC held their agm last Wednesday night and incoming captain Ivan McFadden noted in his address that he was hoping some of his old colleagues, namely Des O'Connor and Eamon Darcy, would help him with the team.
Little did they know that that included putting on their boots yet again! Come Friday night and both men were there to assist Ivan on the field of play. Balbriggan are in a rebuilding phase this season, having lost a number of players both to emigration and those who are trying to further their careers with the local senior clubs. The pack certainly has a look of a strong Balbriggan XV from the last century, with McFadden being joined at times by O'Connor and Darcy as well as Paddy Joyce, Johnny Davis and Al Egan. They gave valuable experience to the youngsters, among them Anto Whelan, Kevin Kiernan and Andy McCaffrey. But while Balbriggan - with a wealth of experience up front - were able to handle Athboy in that department, it was in the backs that their inexperience was felt most. Stu Mullen was the only member of last year's backs to start the game, while his cousin and last year's captain, Jay, played a cameo role as he prepares to head off Down Under. Assistant coach Billy Phelan ran things from the base of the scrum and Cathal McNulty made his return, having been away for a couple of seasons, but the real find was Tunde Toke who was making his senior debut after starring for Balbriggan Community College last season. His strong running showed that he is a player for the future. In the closing minutes of the game Toke made a great run and it took what looked like a suspiciously high tackle to stop him when a score would have been enough to have earned Balbriggan a deserved losing bonus point. Anto Whelan had scored a fine try earlier and Billy Phelan added the extra points. Balbriggan coach David O'Sullivan, the former Leinster and Skerries flanker who is back for a second stint in the role, wasn't too disheartened after the match, noting that there was plenty of exciting talent coming through.