Thursday 14 November 2019

Ambitious development plans are starting to take shape

Ardee RFC took on Portarlington during half-time of the Leinster v Wasps clash last Fridayplayers. Photo: Sportsfile
Ardee RFC took on Portarlington during half-time of the Leinster v Wasps clash last Fridayplayers. Photo: Sportsfile

Brian Lowry

Originally set up for youth and juvenile rugby in mid- Louth, Ardee RFC was founded in 1980 after a meeting of 22 people in Ardee Golf Club.

Originally set up for youth and juvenile rugby in mid- Louth, Ardee RFC was founded in 1980 after a meeting of 22 people in Ardee Golf Club.

The first president of the club was PV McGee, a man who gave a lot to rugby and he has the North East J3 league cup named after him.

The first match played was against Blackrock (Dundalk) and it was won by Ardee RFC U-11s.

The first adult team to represent Ardee RFC played a St Stephen's Day match against Athboy RFC.

The St Stephen's Day match continues to this day and is used as a fundraiser for local charities, including Ardee Hospice and Armagh Diocese Lourdes Pilgrimage (for sick children).

It is an internal club event with different formats over the years including teams representing single versus married players.

Adult rugby in the club commenced in the 1983/1984 season and the early years were confined to playing matches at different locations rented by the club.

A purchase of land was something that needed to happen and in the 1988/1989 season, the club purchased land at Townspark, and Ardee moved into their current location.

One of the primary focuses of the club is as a community-based sporting organisation. The number of members in the club has increased steadily over the past few years.

Ardee RFC is a family-oriented club with a growing youths and mini sections with boys and girls. The player catchment area is predominantly mid-Louth with players also coming from the south Monaghan and east Meath areas.

Their facilities are also top-class. Along with match-standard floodlights, the club can boast a fully-equipped gym and a recently developed clubhouse.

In fact, they were the first club in Louth to have the match-standard lights.

This season the club have boys and girls playing at U-8s, U-9s, U-10s, U-11s and U-12s. There are also boys teams at U-13, U-14s, U-16s & a combined (with Dundalk RFC) U-18-and-a-half side.

There are two girls teams in conjunction with Boyne RFC, U-15s & U-18s, also representing the club.

The club also have two men's teams playing in North East (McGee Cup) & Leinster Leagues.

The club and Ardee CS have enjoyed success recently at a number of levels. The combined Ardee RFC/Dundalk RFC U-18-and-a-half team won their Leinster League Division last season and are the first team associated with Ardee to have had success at Leinster League level.

Champions

The seniors were Jenkinson (J2 North East) champions in 2016/2017. Ardee RFC men's team have also won three Leinster Cups in the past, two at J3 (Anderson Cup) and one at J4 (Dunne Cup) Level. The Ardee CS senior team also won their schools league in the 2017/2018 season.

As a result of the rise in the number of participants the club have undertaken a number of major projects in the recent past, as well as current and future ones. These recent past projects include the match floodlights and new clubhouse which cost in excess of €100,000.

A Sports Capital Grant application for €55,000 has been successful and will be used for pitch development.

This is hugely important for the club as they have only one pitch and they have 15 teams involved with the club and school needing pitch time.

Future club projects include dressing-room refurbishment, an all-weather training area and possible ground expansion.

The club's next fundraiser will be held at our grounds at Townspark and is a club marathon relay where members will run the distance of a marathon, 42,195 metres, in a relay format.

It takes place on Monday (Halloween Bank Holiday), October 19 at 12pm. Check out their Facebook page for upcoming and future events.

The Women's Rugby World Cup visited Ardee Town and Ardee RFC on Thursday, May 4, 2017. This was an important event for the area and a number of activities had been organised to mark the evening.

Ardee RFC is actively promoting an all-inclusiveness ethos within the club and players of all genders and ability are always welcome.

Another new development within the club has seen the start of a 'little ones' playtime for those under six years of age.

It takes place in the Ardee Community Centre on Monday evenings and at our club grounds during the better weather. More information can be gained from contacting our CCRO Jess Myles at 089 411 2770.

One of the side-effects of the recent success and increase in player numbers is the stretching of the club's resources. As a consequence of the rise in the number of participants, the club urgently need coaches, mentors and anybody who can assist with teams.

No previous experience of rugby is needed to assist with the coaches.

Contact Ronan on 087 0562211 for more information on coaching or assisting with any teams at Ardee RFC.

Ardee RFC have had a number of players who have gone on to represent Leinster and Ireland at various age levels.

The most recent crop of these are sisters, Tess & Ellie Meade, who play for Leinster U-18s.

James Reilly also currently plays at No 8 for Leinster U-18s.

In the recent past James's sister Áine played for Leinster as also has their brother, Neil, who played and Captained Ireland U-20s.

Founded: 1980

Grounds: Townspark, Ardee

Division: Leinster League Division 3

President: Ronan O'Brien

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