Sunday 23 July 2017

Club Focus: Seasiders Crosshaven aim to keep their name in lights

Solid start to the season bodes well for the dedicated members of the progressive Co Cork outfit, writes Ciarán McGreal

Crosshaven’s senior side. The only Munster club to win the All-Ireland Junior Cup
Crosshaven’s senior side. The only Munster club to win the All-Ireland Junior Cup

Ciarán McGreal

Crosshaven RFC have been operating since 1972 and some of the club's founding members still play an important part in the club 45 years on.

Current president David Guilfoyle has been involved since the late 1980s and praised the role of some of the old guard in the club's operations.

"Two of the founding members, Edward Buckley, who has been president of the club eight times in total, and Maurice Barry, who has been president four times, they are still very much involved," says Guilfoyle.

"In fact, we wouldn't be able to run the club if we didn't have Eddie Buckley looking after things on a daily basis. In terms of the mechanics of minding the pitches and minding the buildings, Eddie Buckley is the man who looks after that and Moss Barry keeps the scrummaging machine in good working order.

"And our voluntary bar man, Jonathan Dineen has done a fantastic job for us this year and last year."

The club's senior side play in the Munster Junior League Division 2 and president Guilfoyle admits the club has had mixed fortunes over the last few years.

"We started as a Junior 2 club and we made our way 20 or 30 years ago into the Junior 1 leagues, into the 3rd Division on the back of a fantastic coach, Paddy Costigan, who brought us into the 3rd Division, the following year into the 2nd Division and the following year into the 1st Division.

Milestone

"We won several cups over the years but the most important milestone in our club's history was the winning of the All-Ireland Junior Cup in the year 2011. We had the greatest set of players that the club ever had and we beat Monivea in the final.

"We're the only Munster club to win the All-Ireland Junior Cup since the competition started. That was our most successful year but it also represented the beginning of our decline."

Quite often in sport, successful teams move on and are difficult to replace and Crosshaven have had to cope without almost all of its 2011 All-Ireland Junior Cup-winning side in recent years.

"We demonstrated that cycle that affects all clubs from time to time when, suddenly a team that you have, at the top of its game, disappears," says Guilfoyle.

"We lost an entire team the following year and we plummeted straight out of Division 1 into Division 2.

"A few of them would have felt they were too old to continue on, a few of them moved away and a couple of them suffered a small bit of ill health. By and large it was quite a shock. It was like opening a trap door.

"We held our ground for a few years but two years ago we fell into Division 3. But under our coach, Denis Stevenson, we came out of Division 3 straight away into Division 2 where we're mid-table at the moment."

The club's senior side have enjoyed a decent season to date, winning four of its nine matches. Denis Stevenson's men secured wins over Ballincollig, Ennis, Charleville and Castleisland while this Sunday's fixture sees Crosshaven visit Cork rivals Mallow.

Crosshaven RFC's underage section starts at U-8s and the club caters for children right up to U-18s. One of Crosshaven's former youth players is Darren O'Shea, who is currently in the Munster squad. The second-row joined the Munster academy before moving to England to play for Worcester Warriors before returning to his home province in 2016.

The Cork native made his debut at home to Edinburgh in the Pro12 back in September and O'Shea scored his first try for Munster against Treviso in November.

Another notable past player is Frank Murphy. The scrum-half played with Munster from 2001 to 2006 before moving to Leicester Tigers. Murphy joined the Tigers at a time when there was a strong Irish contingent on the English club's books as Geordan Murphy, Ian Humphreys, Shane Jennings and Leo Cullen were all at Leicester back then.

Murphy won a Premiership title with the club and also started the 2007-'08 Heineken Cup final when he came up against fellow Irishman Eoin Reddan, who lined out for Wasps who came out on top in the final.

The club are hoping to install floodlights in the near future in order to facilitate the hosting of matches on Friday nights.

"We're looking towards playing rugby at night particularly on Friday nights because we believe that is the only way forward in terms of a club like ours and most other clubs managing to run a second team," explains Guilfoyle.

"It's very hard to run a second team when both teams are playing matches on the same day and you're essentially strangling your second team to provide back-up for your first team. The subs for the first team could play for the second team on Friday night and be fit and well to join the first team on the Sunday.

"We think that's how things are going to go since most clubs are struggling to field a second team. We believe the way forward is to purchase and construct lights and change the fixture mentality around to the Friday night which would also be a big bonus for the clubs themselves in terms of hosting a match.

"People coming on a Friday night are more likely to stay and have a few beers than they are on a Sunday when people shoot out the door like rockets after a match!"

Crosshaven's members have a tour to France to look forward to in April. The players have led the fundraising effort for the trip which Guilfoyle notes.

"The club is heading off in April on a short tour to Nice. We're all looking forward to that. There's 56 adults going. We're going for four days and nights and there are two matches arranged.

"For the last nine months the players have driven fundraising hugely and they've been very generous in that when they have collected funds, they've contributed a portion of those funds to the club itself to be retained by the club and the other portion goes on the tour.

"The portion going on the tour will be geared towards helping those who might not be able to afford to pay the full price themselves."

Irish Independent

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