Balbriggan RFC: Ambitious outfit build on strong foundations
Rugby is thriving in Balbriggan and the local club are working hard to ensure all needs are catered for, writes Brian Lowry
Formed in 1925, Balbriggan didn't have to wait long to taste success. In their third year, the Club won the Provincial Towns Cup, the premier competition in Leinster for provincial clubs. Over 90 years on and the club remains strong and vibrant.
The early days saw the club play at the Rope Walk which was located in the centre of the town. Like in so many other areas, rugby in the town died out during the late 1930s. However, in 1952 rugby re-emerged in Balbriggan with the formation of Delvin RFC. Delvin RFC were based for many years in Balbriggan and only in later years did they drift towards Drogheda.
The late 1960s saw Brendan Griffin and the late Tom Kettle start youths rugby in the town. The club was re-affiliated to the Leinster Branch in 1969 and the spring of that year saw a seven-a-side competition run with the town split into different areas.
The first official match the club played was an U-14 contest against Mountjoy school in the autumn of 1969.
Youths rugby was very much in its early stages in the province and Balbriggan RFC was to the fore in developing youths rugby within Leinster, something highlighted by the fact that three of the five underage Provincial Cups, the Kettle, McGowan and McAuley Cups competed for each year, were presented by the club or its members.
Balbriggan have won most of these competitions including the prestigious Culleton Cup in 1977, beating Naas in the final at Lansdowne Road. Many of that team carried on to represent the club at adult level in the years to come.
The youths and minis sections continue to grow and last season the club hosted the Leinster U-10 Kettle festival as part of their 90th anniversary celebrations.
Tom Kettle is a big part of their history but he also played a part in developing youth rugby in the broader Leinster area, outside of the traditional schools rugby.
Last May also saw the club publish a book entitled 'From Rope Walk to Bowhill' to mark their 90th year in existence and the launch night coincided with their annual awards night with a crowd of 400 making it a proud night for the club.
Adult rugby re-commenced in 1975 after losing the first of the Culleton finals and the core of those early youths teams were the basis of the adult teams. Felim White was the first captain of the re-formed club and the players in those first few seasons were a mix from the youths, those who had played rugby elsewhere or those new to the game.
The first game played was against Barnhall and the club can look back at a reasonable level of success over that period. The Area Leagues have been won on numerous occasions and they have won the Anderson Cup in 1980,1993 and 2000.
Balbriggan RFC can also boast top-class facilities. Their two state-of the-art, five-a-side astroturf pitches have been built to the highest standard and are IRB-approved, while they also boast three top-class grass pitches, two of which are floodlit with the main pitch having international standard floodlights.
Further to this, the club are about to go to tender for the construction of a new clubhouse which will be a great addition to the club.
The 1st XV ply their trade in Division 2B, while the women's team are now in Division 3.
The 1st XV won the Jenkinson Cup (North East Cup) in 2015-2016 while they reached the semi-final of the Seconds Towns Cup this season, but lost out to Naas. They have reached the final of the Jenkinson Cup again this season and they will take on Ardee tomorrow in the decider.
Ciarán Malone has done a fine job in captaining the club in the past few years while his father, Mal Malone, is the manager of the first team and his brother Sean also lines out alongside him in the first team.
2014 saw the return of Women's Rugby to Balbriggan RFC, after an absence of almost 20 years.
The women's team played in Leinster League Division 4 in 2014/15 season and won that league in their first season.
Now in Division 3, they are captained by Dearbhla Sheridan.
The club has a strong minis section, boasting teams from U-6s/7s through to U-12s and there is a massive amount of work going on in the club to promote the game at underage level.
Balbriggan is a town with a rapidly growing population (approximately 24,000). A substantial number of new primary and secondary schools have been built in the town in recent years to cater for the explosion in numbers of children in the locality.
The Dublin club are all the time looking to bring new players to the club.
Club CCRO Glenn Predy, has done a lot of work over the past year, bringing the Leinster Play Rugby Programme to many schools in Balbriggan.
Balbriggan RFC also now run an annual North East Santa Blitz. U-7s, U-8s and U-9s from all over the North East take part in this event each year, while there is also a very successful tag rugby programme for youths and adults, which ends with a tag rugby competition day and BBQ during the summer.
This summer will also mark the third successive year that Balbriggan will host the Leinster Rugby Summer Camp.
These camps have been very well attended each year with Balbriggan being one of the largest Summer Camps in Leinster.
The incoming club president is Eamon Darcy. He is currently the minis co-ordinator at the club and has done a lot of work to develop minis rugby at Balbriggan RFC.
He is a former player with the club and his two sons are minis players with Balbriggan.
Grounds: Bowhill, Balbriggan, Co Dublin.
Youths and Minis: Under 6 to Under 17.
President: David McFadden.