ENNISCORTHY RUGBY Club is one of the oldest in Leinster and was founded in 1912, so it's celebrating its centenary this year. The club was very successful in the 1920s, winning the Leinster Junior Cup from 1924 to 1927 after which they were then forced to play Senior from 1928 to 1932.
The next Cup win didn't come until 1963. That team was captained by former Newbridge College star Tony Reid R.I.P. He had a drapery store in Enniscorthy town.
The club was powered in later years by the arrival of G.A.A. players and the work of Bill Lett R.I.P. (Lett's Brewery) and the late Sydney Murphy who fostered an under-age structure in the early '70s. St. Mary's C.B.S. Secondary School students opted to play rugby in the winter at that time which they still do today in big numbers.
Ken Leech, a former Senior out-half with Old Wesley, worked in the schools promoting the game for eight years and did tremendous work. Alan Smith, David Ryan and now the current first team captain, Ross Barbour, continue that good work. They won the Junior Leinster Schools Development Cup in 2009 and did well in the Senior grade in 2010.
Enniscorthy built a state of the art clubhouse which was opened in 2005. The club had already built new dressing-rooms in 1980 when the late Denis Hilliard R.I.P. was in charge. Bertie Jacob R.I.P. and Bill Lett R.I.P. were club Presidents at that time.
The drivers behind the one and a half million euro venture were Ollie Maguire, Ray Hemmingway, Pat Kelly, Paul Mccrea, Alan O'brien and former international full-back Tony Ensor who played with Enniscorthy when he retired from the international scene at the young age of 28.
He won 22 Irish caps at full-back, replacing the legendary Tom Kiernan. When Tony came to Enniscorthy he played for a number of years and also coached the team to a Provincial Towns Cup win in 1989. That team was captained by John Bolger who in later years has been the star underage coach. Tony was Chairman during the clubhouse developments.
Paul Mccrea came back as Chairman three years ago and the club improvements have continued, with the re-development of the second pitch at the back and the installation of state of the art floodlights.
Enniscorthy have also won Leinster Seconds Cups in 1989, 1993 and 2001.
Ferdy Williamson was the first clubman to play international rugby. He played full-back for Ireland in the 1920s and won eight caps.
Bill Tector played in the '60s, also at full-back, and won six caps and, because the G.A.A. Ban at that time was in force, he played football with his local G.A.A. club, Cloughbawn, under a different name.
Alan Doherty played one international with Ireland, coming on as a substitute for the injured Mike Gibson in the President's representative match in 1973. Declan O'brien, who coached the team to promotion in 2009 and again last year, has 48 Leinster caps and also made the Ireland 'A' squad, playing six times before injury cut his playing days at the top level short.
He was and still is able to play for his home team. Declan is involved in the coaching structures and he brought in Damien Mccabe as backs coach in 2010. Damien had played professionally with Connacht and played Senior rugby with De La Salle in the A.I.L.
Last year's successful Old Belvedere coach, Philip Werahiko, came to the club in 1993 and gathered together arguably one of the best teams in the club's recent history.
He coached the last teams to play in Provincial Towns Cup finals in '93 and '95. Philip later went on to be a very successful coach after he left, winning an A.I.L. title with Clontarf and last year with Old Belvedere. The affable Kiwi introduced a new standard of rugby to the club and they still maintain that high level, fielding a firsts, seconds, thirds and fourths team.
Former Irish and Greystones hooker, Johnny Murphy, who still plays, came to the club in 2000 and he has also made a significant contribution to the improvement in the rugby being played. Johnny 'Spud' Murphy is still part of the coaching staff. Alan Smith, a former Leinster Youth, has also worked with the backs.
Enniscorthy have never played outside Division 2 of the Leinster Junior Leagues and in fact were promoted last season to Division 1A and finished in third place this season behind winners Skerries and Tullamore. They have qualified for next year's All-ireland Junior Cup as a result.
The Chairman of the club is Paul Mccrea, a former wing-forward who also played with the club for the rest of his career after a brief spell with Greystones. It's his second stint at the helm and he has done great work. Pat Goff and Paul Mccrea kick-started the club again in the late '80s and that progress has continued to this day. English man Bob Brakewell was one of the first fitness coaches to again bring the club to a new level in the '80s and '90s.
The real success story of the club, however, in recent years has been the under-age, winning three Leinster Under-14 league titles and with the Under-16 and Under-19 teams both winning Leinster Cup finals in Donnybrook in 2008 and 2010. This group of young men have proven to be the most talented team to come through the club's history and currently there are seven players involved in the Cup final team.
Three players from those teams, Arthur Dunne, Brendan Perkins and Dominic Boyd, have all played with the Munster Under-18 team while another three, Tony Ryan, Fionn Mcswiney and Daniel Pim, played with the Leinster Under-18 team.
The work of former players John Bolger, Ray Hemmingway, Paul Mccrea, Mick Breen, Liam Spratt, Pat Kelly and Larry Mackey is paying off with over 200 youngsters from eight to twelve training on Sunday mornings. The club currently has an Under-13 team, two Under-15 teams, Under-17 and Under-19 teams.
The Under-17s reached the All-ireland final in 2010 and were beaten by a very good Waterpark team. They were coached by Paul Mccrea, Dick Harpur, John Mccrea, Tommy James and Alan Smith.
The under-age success story continued to bear fruit this year when Jim White from Oylegate, who was a part of that Under-17 team, made his Irish Under-18 international debut on the wing against Italy in Rome. His brother, Rory, is playing with U.L. Bohemians in the A.I.L., as is Paul Bolger.
This year also the club put their firstever Under-21 team out. Bruce Chapman, Kent Ashmore, Alan Smith, Liam Spratt and Len Dalton were involved. They were beaten by Sunday's opponents, Tullow, in the Cup final.