Tuesday 17 September 2019

Going from strength to strength in west Dublin

Club Focus: Tallaght RFC

The Dublin club’s women’s team line out before a game earlier in the season
The Dublin club’s women’s team line out before a game earlier in the season

Brian Lowry

Tallaght Rugby Club was set up in 2002 as part of the 'Tallaght Project', an IRFU initiative designed to introduce rugby in non-traditional areas.

Having started initially with underage teams, 2006 saw Tallaght RFC set up their first senior men's team with players like Brian Curtis and New Zealander Wayne Daniel leading the way on the pitch while the likes of Gregg Behan and Tomás O'Leary led the charge in the committee room.

Wayne only played for a season but his experience was invaluable to the team and Tallaght paid tribute to him when he tragically passed away from cancer in 2015 at the tender age of 40.

In Tallaght's first season at adult level in 2006-2007 they only played a few cup games but in 2007-2008 they entered the J4 Metro League.

The forward unit was backboned by a local influence with the likes of Derek Burke, Jonny Allison, Keith Mason, Emmet Norton and Ken Healy plus a strong Munster influence in Curtis and Peter Turner plus Denis Buckley from Kerry.

Brian Tyrrell, Gary Doyle, Brian Massey, Steve Kelly and Danny Behan formed the bulk of the backline.

Younger members from Tallaght
Younger members from Tallaght

South African Thomas Ferreira came in as coach and the team started the season competitively but struggled to get that vital first win.

However, late in the season they finally beat Seapoint 30-12 at home for their first win and they followed that up the next week by getting their first away win against local rivals St Mary's 19-11 in Templeville Road.

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Over the years Tallaght RFC has grown considerably. Shay McHugh took over as coach and they had a good run in the league, coming second to Suttonians in 2010-11 aided by some fine new players - namely Simon Sweeney, Phil Preston, Denny McCarthy, Gavin Knaggs, Andy Grace, Ken McGovern and Willie Lamb.

They also rounded off that season by winning the John Madden Plate for the club's first silverware.

They moved into the Leinster League for a couple of seasons but in truth, Sunday rugby didn't really suit the club and they returned to the Metro League with Brian Curtis taking over as head coach.

This season’s senior team. Photo: Anne Kavanagh
This season’s senior team. Photo: Anne Kavanagh

The club finished a creditable third place in Metro League Division 7 in the 2013/2014 but with Curtis moving on due to work commitments, the following season was fairly grim as Tallaght failed to win a league match.

New club president Ken Kinsella and director of rugby Luke Tyrrell struggled to keep things on the road but the team did win the John Madden Plate again while at the beginning of the 2015/2016 season they persuaded Tom Leigh to take over as coach.

He was aided by the arrival of Australian full-back Simon Collie who scored four tries against Monkstown in one of his first games for the team.

In his first season in charge, Tallaght won four league games under Leigh, but they improved massively as they went on to make the league final for the last two seasons.

Crucially a lot of players who played youth rugby for Tallaght started returning.

Dave Clarke, Karl Segrave and Ste Heaney were always there but Adam Nolan, Ciaran and Andy Rudd, Al Sower and Rob Hudson came back as well.

There was a sense of positivity about the club again. Andy Caswell, Joe Ivers, Alan Bernes, Jack Russell, Aaron Morgan, Ken McGovern and Andy Grace were attracted back to play.

As well at the two league finals, they also made the John Madden Cup final in 2017 and the Plate final again in 2018. It was tough not to pick up a trophy after going so close but it's a world away from when they were struggling to win a game only four seasons ago.

This year Tallaght also fielded a seconds team that competed in Metro League Division 11 and they earned wins over Coolmine and the Dublin Dogos while introducing a large number of new players to the game.

The women's team was set up in 2012 and some of the founding members of the team were Mairead Hayden, Karena Hull, Lisa Maguire, Michelle Tyrrell, Lisa Kelly, Orla Ivers and Lorraine Cleary with the coaching taken care of by Brian Tyrrell and Tony McManus.

Tony and Lorraine Cleary tied the knot earlier this year in the first wedding of people who met through the club.

Over the years they had other notable players like Anne Kavanagh, Catherine Murphy, Maire Gilbourne, Leone Eugene and Ciara Meenagh but they've just had their most successful season led by coaches Adam Nolan and Mark Keogh and women's development officer Aoife Davoren.

With a host of new players like Audrey Fulham, Cíara McLoughlin, Megan Fogarty, Aisling Pyke, Rachel Nolan, Roisin Doyle, Shauna Power, Jacinta Purcell and skipper Caoimhe Hogan they had their most successful season ever, winning the most games and making the league semi-final and the cup final.

Some former players like Martina Fitzpatrick, Lisa Kennedy, Aileen McGovern, Anne Birmingham, Amrs Foy and Caroline Lambe also returned to play and they're looking for more new players for next season to push to the next level.

In 2013 Tallaght Rugby Club started an U-12s joint boys and girls team and this has expanded to include minis teams which cater for boys and girls from ages 6 through to 12 years old.

This was started by Philip 'Bisto' Preston, Tallaght Person of the Year of 2015, who sadly passed away in 2016.

However, his passion for rugby and for the kids from our area is still alive and thriving at the club.

His motto was, 'Rugby is not just D4, its D24!' and this is still driven by the club through its players, coaches and committee members.

The emphasis in the youths section is on inclusion, participation and fun. Team-building skills, support, fitness and co-ordination are incorporated into our training sessions as well as respect for coaches, players and officials.

The minis participate in blitz competitions throughout the season and the U-11 team competes in the Leinster league.

Several girls have also progressed to U-15 and U-18 level with Bistos Girls, a team made up from several other clubs and they compete in a Leinster League.

Coaches like Gerry and Audrey Fanning plus David Clarke have taken on the job and the numbers are growing all the time.

Tallaght RFC

Founded: 2002

Grounds: Tymon Park (Near the Basketball Arena) & Pitch 100 (Opposite Firhouse Community School)

Division: Metro League Division 7

Captain: Jack Russell

President: Ken Kinsella

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