Friday 28 July 2017

Lansdowne FC: Refusing to rest on the laurels of a glorious past

Record hauls of silverware, countless Irish internationals… and D4 aristocrats are still at the top of the pile, writes Brian Lowry

Lansdowne captain Ian Prendiville showing his determination on the charge against St Mary’s
Lansdowne captain Ian Prendiville showing his determination on the charge against St Mary’s

Brian Lowry - Club focus

Henry WD Dunlop founded the club in 1872 when it was known as the Irish Champion Athletic Club, and Lansdowne FC now stands as one of the oldest and respected clubs in Ireland.

Lansdowne are based in Lansdowne Road, the oldest international rugby ground in the world.

The lease to the ground was originally passed to the IRFU by HWD Dunlop, president of Lansdowne from 1872 until 1904.

Remarkably, over a hundred years later, Dunlop's son, Eric, was involved with Lansdowne until his death in July 2008, and was an honorary life member.

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The club has been a major contributor to Irish rugby.

Max Deegan vies for possession in the lineout against Terenure earlier this season
Max Deegan vies for possession in the lineout against Terenure earlier this season

Countless Lansdowne players have gone on to wear the green of Ireland.

Moss Keane, Eugene Davy, Ernie Crawford, Ned Lightfoot, Mick Dunne, Jack Arigho, Morgan Crowe, Robin Roe, Mick English, Pat Casey, Sean MacHale, Gordon Wood, Alan 'Dixie' Duggan, Barry McGann, Mick Quinn, Noel Mannion, Eric Elwood, Philip Danaher, Michael Kiernan (who dropped the goal to win the 1985 Triple Crown), Conor O'Shea, Donal and Dick Spring (former Tánaiste), Michael Gibson, Des Fitzgerald and, of course, the great Con Murphy (the only man to represent Ireland both before and after World War II) are only the tip of the iceberg

Murphy captained Ireland to a 22-0 victory over England in the official post-war international in 1947.

Lansdowne can also boast nine Lions, including two members of the 2005 tourists, Shane Horgan and Gordon D'Arcy, while Leinster and Argentina legend Felipe Contepomi, became the club's first overseas international.

The Lansdowne side who are leading Division 1A with two games to play
The Lansdowne side who are leading Division 1A with two games to play

On two occasions in 1931, Lansdowne supplied the entire Irish three-quarter line (Arigho, Davy, Crowe and Lightfoot), one of only three clubs ever to have done so at international level world-wide.

Other more recent internationals include exciting winger Matt Healy (Lansdowne's record try scorer in the Ulster Bank League), prop Martin Moore (who featured for Lansdowne in the UBL last season against Young Munster), Jordi Murphy, Devin Toner and Dave Kearney.

There are also a host of current and past Lansdowne players in the various provinces who have been making a name for themselves of late.

Books

These include Clive Ross of Ulster and Connacht quintet Craig Ronaldson, Cian Kelleher, Dave Heffernan, Tom Farrell and Shane Delahunt, while Dominic Ryan, Peter Dooley, Tom Daly, Max Deegan (U-20 World Player of the year 2016) and Ian Fitzpatrick are all on the books at Leinster.

The club is proud to also have a state-of-the-art clubhouse.

Both inside and out, the club's facilities are right up there with the best in the country. A fine bar as well as a function room capable of holding corporate meetings, functions and parties just adds to the prestige of the club.

Further to their main grounds at Lansdowne, the club also shares a fantastic facility with Old Wesley RFC in Ballycorus. Opened in 2007, the complex, which replaced the ground the two clubs formerly shared at Kilgobbin, boasts three full-sized pitches (two of which are floodlit), six spacious dressing-rooms, a medical room and catering accommodation as well as a fully-equipped gym.

Lansdowne have won the Leinster Senior Cup a record 24 times, as well as winning 10 Leinster Senior League titles.

Since the club's first Senior Cup victory in 1891, Lansdowne have won over 100 Leinster Branch trophies as well as numerous national titles.

The club caters for players at all levels, and currently fields six senior teams, as well as an U-20s side who have been extremely successful in the past few seasons.

This season has already seen four players from the U-20 set up also make their mark in the Irish ranks.

Oisin Dowling, Tadgh McElroy, Paul Boyle and Greg McGrath have all been part of Ireland's U-20 Six Nations campaign.

Mark Roche, John O'Donnell, Alan Bennie, Tom Daly, Foster Horan and Matthew Opperman have all been involved with the Irish Sevens squad.

Fergal Cleary featured in the Irish students' recent 36-36 with England.

Lansdowne are very much in contention for the All-Ireland League title: with two rounds to play, they are top of the league and have secured a semi-final berth in the play-offs under the guidance of head coach Mike Ruddock, assistant coach Mark McHugh, director of senior rugby Steve Rooney and chairman of rugby Colin Goode.

They are also in the final of the Fraser McMullen Cup this Sunday against Navan where coaches Declan Fassbender and Ben Armstrong along with U-20 director Ed Lyons have done tremendous work having already secured the JP Fanagan Leinster U-20 League title earlier this season.

Lansdowne have twice won the All-Ireland League - in 2013 and 2015 - they also won the Fraser McMullen cup (U-20s All-Ireland Cup) in both those seasons.

In both the 1996-97 and 1999-2000 seasons, Lansdowne finished second in the All-Ireland League, on the latter occasion losing narrowly to St Mary's College in the final.

Mini and Youth rugby also flourishes in the Club, with teams from U-6s up to U-20s under the watchful guidance of Kieran Walsh, Owen Lydon and ex-England Sevens player Will Matthews.

Lansdowne factfile

Founded: 1872

Grounds: Lansdowne FC, Lansdowne Road, Dublin 4.

Colours: Black, red and yellow hoops, with navy shorts

Division: All-Ireland League Division 1A.

Youths/Minis: U-6 to U- 20.

President: Simon Coyle

Captain: Ian Prendiville

Sponsor: Zurich

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