Saturday 23 September 2017

Clondalkin RFC: Moving forward on and off the field

West Dublin outfit are firmly focused on returning to the top tier of the Leinster League, writes Brian Lowry

Fiona Tighe in action for the 'Clonettes'
Fiona Tighe in action for the 'Clonettes'

Club Focus: Brian Lowry

Situated in West Dublin, Clondalkin RFC is a relatively new club. Founded in 1973 at a time when it was felt that the game should be developed in this rapidly expanding area of Dublin, it took a while to get things going and they had a modest beginning.

Over 40 years ago now, their first game was played against Old Kilcullen RFC. Positive vibes and feedback came from this opening fixture and the club saw potential.

The U-15 and U-18 Clondalkin girls teams
The U-15 and U-18 Clondalkin girls teams

As a result, the club was formed and affiliated to the Leinster Branch and the project was under way.

The Marist brothers provided the club's first home in Moyle Park College until the middle of the 1977/'78 season.

Hard work was put in on the field with Moyle Park being the venue for continuous and steady progression with regard to on field activities.

In those opening five years or so, Clondalkin RFC progressed from being a junior six side to competing at junior three. Also in that period, the club increased their playing numbers and fielded three teams. The first steps in juvenile rugby were also undertaken and the development of the underage section in the club had commenced.

With a sound footing and with things moving along nicely on the playing front, the decision was made by the committee to start putting plans in place for finding a permanent home.

Pinpointed as a key aspect of progressing the club to the next level, the club were also eager to create their own identity.

HANDSOMELY

This was to be a massive task and members put their shoulder to the wheel as well as contributing handsomely out of their own pockets to enable a fund be put in place to acquire their desired land. Local businesses were also approached to help out and a positive outcome ensued.

In 1977, the grounds at Kingswood were purchased for the sum of £27,000 and the work of building and development began in earnest.

Since then, the club has steadily progressed and by 1985/'86, they were promoted to junior two level. Clondalkin were in Division 1A in 2013/2014, the year of their 40th anniversary before unfortunately slipping back this year to Division 1B at the end of last season.

They have started life in 1B well and sit in third place just three points off league leaders Tullow. In fact, Tullow are the only team to beat them so far this season in the league a couple of weeks back having opened their campaign with wins over Suttonians, Coolmine and North Kildare.

Second-placed Wicklow are next on the agenda tomorrow and a win over the side that knocked them out of the Towns Cup last season at the semi-final stage will leapfrog them into second place.

In 2013, Clondalkin were the Leinster Junior Club of the Year, and since that they have gone on to contest two Towns Cup semi-finals in a row, last season losing in the last minute against eventual winners Wicklow.

It was a tough one to take, especially as they were struggling in the league but this West Dublin club is made of sterner stuff and it won't be long before they are back in the top division of the Leinster League and competing for honours.

Clondalkin RFC have over 350 active members, three men's senior teams, one women's team, and a vibrant underage section from U-6s to U-19s while they have also started up girls rugby between the ages of 13 and 18.

The domestic game is the heartbeat of the sport and Bank of Ireland's support is critical to developing and expanding the game, particularly in west Dublin.

The extremely successful Leinster CRO, CCRO and CDO programme is a crucial part of underage player and coach development and has allowed the club to touch every school in the area, which has increased their numbers year on year.

The key ethos of the club is about participation, both at underage and senior level, and the club strives to find place for all.

When it comes to success, Clondalkin RFC have also made their mark. The 2013/2014 season saw them lay claim to three cups by landing the Hosie, Lalor and Speirs Cups.

Underage glory was crowned by being U-16 Leinster champions in 2005, while the U-18 crown was bestowed on them the following year.

Last December they retained the Lalor Cup while they were also narrowly beaten by Naas in the Hosie Cup final. Next month they will contest the Hosie Cup final again while they will also be looking to retain the Lalor Cup.

The ladies section has also got in on the act when they celebrated LBIRFU Ladies cup success in 2011 while landing the Paul Flood Cup in recent seasons.

On November 19, they are holding an open day for girls aged between 13 and 18 and it promises to be a fun-filled morning of rugby and games between 11am and 1pm. The 'Clonettes' are captained this year by Anne Marie Whelan.

The Clondalkin club is thriving and growing all the time. They celebrated their 40th season in 2013 and that also coincided with them being named as the Leinster junior club of the year.

There are further plans in place to develop the club both on and off the field as they strive to keep moving forward.

The club are always looking for new players and this evening the minis of Clondalkin take to the field at half-time for what will be a special moment for the players, coaches and indeed the whole club.

Clondalkin RFC

Founded: 1973

Club grounds: Gordon Park,

Kingwood, Dublin.

Club Colours: Yellow and navy jerseys, navy shorts and navy socks.

Leinster League: Leinster Junior League Division 1B.

Youths and Minis: Under-6 to Under-19.

Club President: Winston Jebb

Club Captain: Chris Jebb

Club Chairman: Gerry Gilligan

Website: www.clondalkinrugby.com

Irish Independent

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