Club Focus: Kildare outfit are building towards bright future
Established for more than 20 years, Newbridge RFC are carrying on a fine tradition of rugby in the area, writes Brian Lowry
In 1996, an amalgamation of Old Kilcullen and Curragh RFC was formed with Newbridge RFC coming to fruition.
A period of struggle in the '90's on the field and in the recruiting of players led to initial talks in 1995.
After members of both clubs came together for discussions surrounding a coming together, a proposal was put to the AGM of both clubs in the summer of 1996.
After an initial period of two years was agreed, a new club was born.
The club's first president was Pierce McCorley, chairman was Bill Perrin and captain was Martin Donnelly.
At the end of this trial period, further separate AGMs were held and after much debate, the merger was finalised with a number of conditions that remained in place for the next five years.
Newbridge RFC commenced their on-field action in Division 3 of the Leinster League as Old Kilcullen were already playing in that division and Curragh had just been relegated from Division Two.
Success came early for Newbridge, winning the North Midlands Area Hosie Cup in its first season and gaining promotion to Division 2.
The club's 3rd XV also won that season's Anderson Cup.
Hard times were to follow though and with retirements high, the first team dropped to the bottom of Division 3 by their sixth season.
A major rebuilding operation commenced with active player and coaching recruitment.
Initially, under coaches Kevin Behan and Peter Barrett, and supported by director of rugby Johnny Molloy, the club started to gain success. This was carried on by Bernard Jackman and director of rugby Colin Goode.
Old Kilcullen and especially the Curragh had long traditions of minis and youths rugby, including success in the North Midlands Area and Leinster competitions.
Players from both clubs gained representative honours for Leinster and, in the case of the Curragh, Ireland. This tradition has been continued by Newbridge RFC.
Over the years the minis has grown into a strong section of the club with very large numbers.
They competed in Leinster League Division 1A for four seasons and a fourth-place finish earned them an All Ireland Junior Cup spot in 2011/2012, while in the same season they were beaten in the Towns Cup semi-final after extra-time by eventual winners Enniscorthy.
The Towns seconds cup was won by the Kildare club in 2012 and 2013.
This season sees them apply their trade in Division 2A of the Leinster league.
Currently in mid-table, they have consolidated their league status for this season with a few games to spare and this is an improvement on their showing the year previous when they finished second bottom.
Girls' rugby is also alive and well in the club with underage teams going from strength to strength as the years pass.
Off the field, the club has worked hard to maintain their presence in the area and provide the best for their players.
There are plans already in place for the construction of a new clubhouse, with work due to start in May this year.
Curragh RFC was founded in 1925 by a group of officers from the new Army, one of whom being Sean Collins Powell, a nephew of Michael Collins.
They affiliated with the Leinster branch in 1927 but as time wore on and officers began to move out of the Curragh, the club's success dipped.
The club stopped for a few years but was re-established in 1940 and returned to Leinster competitions in 1941. In their first season back, the won the prestigious Towns Cup.
After a stint at senior level, they reverted to junior status and they won another Towns Cup in 1966/67 under the captaincy of Barry Studdert, while they also claimed the inaugural Hosie Cup, a trophy they went on to win 11 times.
On completion of their initial military training, many of these young men were posted throughout the Army and continued playing with other clubs.
While the constant movement caused the club many replacement headaches, it was always a source of interest and no little pride to see how their former players thrived with their new clubs.
One of their most famous 'graduates' was Ciaran Fitzgerald who captained two Irish Triple Crown-winning teams as well as skippering a Lions tour to New Zealand.
Old Kilcullen RFC
Old Kilcullen RFC was founded in late 1967. Initially they played their matches in Brennan's 'Upper Field' at Old Kilcullen, at the time used by Kilcullen GAA. Clubhouse facilities were provided in the Brennan's pub nearby.
In 1971, eight acres at Rosetown, Athgarvan was purchased giving the club a permanent home and further land purchases along the road frontage in the early 1970s expanded the site.
The first phase of the current clubhouse facility was built in 1976.
The Provincial Towns Cup was their main competition with their best effort coming in 1978, 1990 and 1991 when they reached the quarter-final. They also came extremely close to winning the Leinster League Division 3 the season before the clubs merged.
Grounds: Rosetown, Athgarvan, Newbridge, Co Kildare
Division: Leinster League Division 2A
Minis and youths: U-6 to U-18
Captain: Ronan Mangan
President: Mick McCoy