Monday 26 September 2016

Seasiders continue to set high standards

One of North Dublin's finest, Skerries RFC, have a decorated past and retain plenty of hope for the future

Brian Lowry

Published 23/09/2016 | 02:30

Recently-retired stalwart Chris Keane with a young supporter proving that Skerries RFC is a club for all ages
Recently-retired stalwart Chris Keane with a young supporter proving that Skerries RFC is a club for all ages

The seaside town of Skerries in North County Dublin boasts a rich and colourful rugby history to match that of any club affiliated to the IRFU.

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From its unique Provincial Towns Cup record and their Leinster Senior Cup final appearance to their current senior standing in Division 2B of the All-Ireland League, Skerries RFC have always been in the thick of the glory trail since the club's inception back in 1926.

Skerries RFC
Skerries RFC

Skerries Rugby Club celebrates its 90th anniversary this season. Club records show that the club was affiliated to the IRFU (Leinster Branch) on September 15, 1926. Skerries were initially proposed by Blackrock College and seconded by Lansdowne.

The club's first recorded fixture was against Drogheda RFC which was played in the Twelve Acres, Skerries. Skerries won a tight match 9-8. Over the years, there have been many contributions made by individuals which have helped the club progress to its current home in Holmpatrick. The club is community-based and hosts three senior teams as well youths, minis and a girls section.

Up until the 1975/'76 season, Skerries were a proud and successful junior club before years of hard graft was rewarded by promotion to the senior ranks. Under the stewardship of captain Jim Glennon, Skerries first game of senior rugby came down in Musgrave Park against Sunday's Well on Saturday, September 13, 1975. The Skerries men won the game 10-9 and went on to have a steady run in their maiden season in the senior ranks.

Typified

In their junior rugby days before their promotion, Skerries dominated junior rugby and this was typified by their four successive Towns Cup successes with the fourth coming in 1974. This is a record that hasn't been matched to date. The first of their four successive titles came in the 1970/'71 with a final win over Navan for their first Towns Cup success in 17 years.

Final wins over Kilkenny, North Kildare and Arklow completed the famous sequence that will take some beating for some time to come.

Overall, they have 11 Towns Cups to their name with their 1979 success coming from their second team.

The club also celebrates the longest-running fixture between Scottish and Irish clubs. The fixture against Dunbar RFC is played on the international weekend with the first instalment taking place back in February 1952. This year also celebrates the fixture's 65th year, something that has been acknowledged by both the Irish and Scottish Rugby Unions as one of the last amateur bastions in this professional era.

One man synonymous with the club and one who was known the length and breadth of the country was Sandy Heffernan who was honorary secretary of the club for 21 years before he passed away in 2008. In the 1990s, Sandy also put his efforts into the job as honorary secretary of the Leinster Branch and was one of the men who guided it into the professional age that it now lives in.

The mid 2000s was also a very poignant time for the seaside club. Years of holding their own in senior rugby was brought to a shuddering halt as they were relegated back from the All-Ireland League in the 2005/2006 season. The next move was now crucial as a loss in momentum can often be detrimental to a club.

They remained in the Leinster Junior League up until the 2011/'12 season when they eventually made the return to the All-Ireland League after securing the Leinster League Division 1A and coming through the subsequent round-robin process with the other provincial winners.

This was one of the club's crowning moments and they moved up as high as Division 2A. 2A was their level for many years but just last season they lost a play-off semi-final 32-30 to Greystones to see them relegated back to 2B for the 2016/2017 season. Their 1998 Leinster Senior Cup final appearance against Lansdowne in which they were narrowly defeated also an extremely proud moment for the club.

The club also took pride in its traditional match on the beach that took place from its foundation back in 1926 right the way through until the mid 1980s.

This was used as a fundraiser many years for a number of charities until it had to be stopped due to the demands of the professional game and the potential for injury to the numerous international players that participated in this renowned and much-loved fixture.

A club with over 600 members, Skerries boast international standard floodlighting, a well-equipped clubhouse and state-of-the-art playing pitches. They are a prime example of a club that offer the very best in facilities to not only their playing members but also to their social members.

Skerries are a relatively small club but that hasn't stopped them producing plenty of players for Leinster, Connacht, Ulster and Ireland at youth, college and full representative level.

Bill Mulcahy and his son Billy along with Jim Glennon and Killian Keane are all to the forefront of that list while the club is also continuing to produce plenty of talent. Mikey Sherlock toured with the Ireland U-20s at the World Cup in South Africa a few years back, while Alan O'Connor made his debut for Ulster against Leinster at Ravenhill in December 2012 at the tender age of 20.

Conor Oliver played for Ireland U-20s recently and also made his debut for Munster. David O'Connor also played for Ireland U-20s and is currently in the Leinster Academy.

The Youths structure in the club is very strong and it is on this structure that the club can look forward to a bright future.

Skerries RFC

Founded: 1926.

Grounds: Holmpatrick, Skerries, Co Dublin.

Division: Ulster Bank League Division 2B.

Youths: Under 6 to Under 18.

President: Paul C Denny

Club captain: Ross McAuley

Next week's club focus is on De La Salle Palmerston

Irish Independent

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