Tom Leigh’s season review

Tallaght rugby’s season started in late July of 2019 with great expectations that we were going to kick on from last year. At the end of the 2018-2019 season, we finished with two trophies; the John Madden cup and the Metro League Division 7 trophy which was the most successful season to date for Tallaght Rugby Club. When we started preseason training in July there was a huge increase in numbers attending. We had returning players like Denny McCarthy, Ciaran Rudd, Shane Maguire, Wayne Stewart, Jordan and Michael Corrigan and Brandon Wilson. We also had new players coming in like Niall Mahon, Shane Mooney, Ben Flynn, Padraig O’Ciardha, Leigh MacDonald, Declan O’Neill, Gary Kinsella and Scott Hyland. At the same time there was an influx of younger players in the likes of James Carr, Keith Fitzsimons, Mark Keatinge, Cameron Byrne and Sean Gardner joining again. In August with a limited side we travelled again to Youghal in County Cork for a preseason tournament and that set the tone for the year and we had another enjoyable experience in Cork.

We won a couple of preseason games against Guinness and Clane RFC before we commenced competitive action in the John Madden cup. In the first round we faced Seapoint who we have beaten previously in the league final last April. After a very hard battle throughout the match we went to extra time and then in the unusual circumstances we had to win a penalty shoot-out to progress to the next round. In the semi-final we beat Guinness 17-6 to reach the final.

Numbers at training were excellent and our squad depth was getting bigger which was to prove key as the season progressed with players unavailable and injured. Unfortunately we lost a number of players to long-term injury through the season like Declan O’Neill, Sean Gardner, Ben Flynn, Leigh McDonald, Ciaran Keane, James Carr, Rob Carthy and Mick Corrigan. Despite these losses lads kept stepping up to take their place and maintain the quality of performance.

The league campaign commenced in October with a hard fought win against Seapoint at home in Tymon Park. The next match was against Terenure in Lakelands Park which seen as a important match against one of the most established clubs in Leinster. In a tight battle Denny McCarthy’s late try was the key moment in the match and we came away with a 12-10 victory. The next match away to Coolmine was going to be a huge challenge having not beaten them in a long time. The key moment in the match came before kick off when the referee made a decision that the home team had to change their jerseys because they clashed with ours. This had them all over the place for the first 25 minutes and we took our advantage and came away with the victory.

The next fixture was to be the key fixture of the season when we lost to Dublin University at home by a single point in a match where the opposition were better on the day. The result focused the mind for the rest of the season and we didn’t lose again. This resulted in wins over Barnhall, Seapoint, Terenure and Coolmine. Then the last 3 wins came against Dublin University, Barnhall and Guinness in the worst conditions we have seen in a long time and more importantly only conceding 5 points in 240 minutes. This put us a great position going into our home final in Tymon Park against second placed Terenure.

The final was cancelled because of the Covid 19 situation and we were gutted that we couldn’t play a Leinster rugby final in Tallaght for the first time. The final was going to be very tough having just beaten Terenure twice during the season by small margins. The Leinster Branch awarded the league to Tallaght because we had finished top of the table by a 9 point margin. This is another huge achievement for Tallaght RFC to go back to back league winners. This is a credit to all the players and everyone involved with Tallaght RFC.

We really want to kick on again next year both on the field and off the field to keep improving and challenging ourselves. It is an honour to be involved with Tallaght RFC and their commitment to their team and community is second to none. We are not only developing great rugby players but wonderful people for their community and families.

This has been proven many times this year as the team and the rest of the club raised money for the Tallaght Hospital frontline staff during the present pandemic and also helped support one of our men’s team Wayne Strewart who sadly lost his father Paul recently. We also increased our Tallaght RFC family this year with newborns from a number of players that included Al Moore, Tony McManus, Shane Maguire, Nick Hearn, Mark Keogh and Daniel Pomares. I want to congratulate all of the above and their partners and wish them the best of luck in their new adventure with their families. There are also a few weddings coming up this year for a few players. I would also like to wish them the best of luck for their big days and not to forget Al Sower who was married in December to Laura and the very best to them in their new life together.

The rugby season is finished for another season but we still have a few nights to celebrate our success when we are allowed and restrictions are eased. We can look forward to being presented with the Division 6 trophy from the Leinster Branch, our awards night, AGM and then to plan for next year when hopefully we can keep improving on and off the pitch.

I want to thank a few special people who made this season such a success again. Simon Gaskill, Padraig O’Ciardha and Colin Keogh were the driving force behind the second team and looked after them on match days. They were denied a final in Division 11 due to the restrictions and I know they want to get back to that level again. Many of the issues most people don’t see on a weekly and monthly basis are sorted by people within the club who just get on with it. Our Chairman Luke Tyrrell is always there willing to solve a problem and support us and I want to thank him on behalf of every player in the club for the work he does. I also want to thank everyone on our committee for all their hard work over the season to put the club on such a solid footing.

Adam Nolan captained the club again this year and was outstanding in supporting the team on and off the pitch. He also coached the under-16’s boys team which shows his commitment to the club now and into the future, many thanks Adam for all your support this year. On the day of the matches Ciaran Keane stepped into the role of manager and was always there to help and support the players and coaches in whatever we needed, many thanks Ciaran. I also want to thank Jim O’Connor for all his hard work with the fixtures and the match reports throughout the year, many thanks Jim.

Colin Keogh and Niall Mahon took over as coaches of the women’s team and it was great to see their commitment to bringing through new players and thanks again to the women’s captain Martina Fitzpatrick for the leadership she shows on and off the pitch. Our youth’s teams have continued to grow and the Bisto’s team won the under-18’s girls shield final on a great day in St. Mary’s. So thanks to Aileen McGovern, Audrey and Gerry Fanning and all the other coaches and parents who are helping to create our stars of the future.

I also want to thank the Leinster Branch especially all the referees who we could not play without and Dermot O’Mahony for administration of the Metro Leagues and Leinster Coach Development Officer for Tallaght RFC and the Metropolitan Area Damien McCabe. Our own Audrey Fulham is going from strength to strength in her refereeing career and it’s great to see her representing the club so well in that area.

Also huge thanks to Gary Brennan who again this year has been such a great inspiration to all the players. He challenges them every week to improve and we have really seen his work come through with the backline on both the men’s teams. Gary has also been involved with Richie Murphy coming down to take a kicking session and Colin McEntee taking a couple of sessions for Tallaght RFC and all of us have learned from these training sessions. Many thanks Gary for all your work this year. It is very much appreciated.

Last but not least I was to thank all the partners, family and friends of all our players and coaches who come out to support the team in all kinds of weather. They also support the club through buying tickets, attending fundraisers and looking after children when players train. Without their support, we’d be nowhere so thanks to everyone in the TRFC family.

Yours in Rugby

Tom Leigh
Tallaght RFC

Paul Stewart RIP

Everyone at Tallaght Rugby was greatly shocked and saddened to hear of the sudden passing over the weekend of Paul “Stewy” Stewart, the father of our player Wayne.

In accordance with the government guidelines in the Covid-19 crisis, the arrangements for the funeral will remain private. Our deepest sympathies go out to all his friends and family.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.

Tallaght 1st Metro Division 6 Champions

After the domestic season was halted due to the Covid-19 crisis, the Leinster branch have declared the Tallaght first team champions of Metro Division 6. As the final against Terenure cannot now be played, the table topping Tallaght team were declared champions and have been promoted to Division 5 for next season.

Tallaght would have much preferred to win the league by beating Terenure in the final which would have been the first ever to be hosted in Tallaght. But after finishing nine points clear having only lost one game all season, they are worthy champions.

The flip side of the coin of the branch’s decision means that the Tallaght seconds team will have to settle for runner-up spot in Metro Division 11 as table toppers Clondalkin were declared champions. However they should be commended for finishing second in what was their first season as a team. The second team introduced several new players to the club this season and they’ll be raring to go next term.

Tallaght head coach Tom Leigh was proud of his squad’s achievement. “Last year was the most successful season Tallaght RFC had achieved, so we knew this year was going to be a huge step up. We had to improve both as individuals and as a team unit to be competitive in this new league. As early as August the momentum was building with huge numbers at training. There was a desire to get better, to have our own seconds team.”

“At this stage we knew that, not only would we be competitive, but we could actually win the league. Our belief was backed up with a couple of pre-season matches where we played well and won quite convincingly. Then we reached the John Madden final, which was another great achievement. The standard at training was improving all the time with the new players blending into the club and enjoying the learning environment.”

“The new players Niall Mahon, Ben Flynn, Scott Hyland, Leigh McDonald, Nick McGuinness, Brandon Wilson, Jordan Corrigan, Michael Corrigan, Wayne Stewart, Gary Kinsella, Shane Mooney, Padraig O’Ciardha and the returning Denny McCarthy and Ciaran Rudd all added value to the rugby club. We also saw an influx of younger players like James Carr, Marc Keatinge, Daniel Byrne, Keith Fitzsimons, Cameron Byrne and Sean Gardner who we hope will make a big contribution to the club in years to come.”

“The key strength this year was the squad. We used a lot of players over the season so the success is to be celebrated among the whole squad. Our league record was almost 100% but for one off-day versus Trinity but in fairness on the day they played well and we only lost by a point. We had loads of tight matches but always had the belief and hunger to get the result. We went unbeaten away from home which is rare in any league and shows the mental strength of the squad. “

“But the key was the last three games which were all played in terrible conditions as the various storms raged in January and February. But we won all three game and only conceded five points combined. We were building towards the final and beginning to peak for that. Unfortunately the final didn’t get played and it would have been a huge battle against our local rivals Terenure having only beaten them narrowly both times in the league.”

“But we’re delighted the league season wasn’t declared null and void so that we have something to show for all our hard work over the last seven months. I want to thank the coaches and managers Gary Brennan, Luke Tyrrell and Ciaran Keane for all their hard work and guidance this season. I also want to thank our amazing supporters who still came out in big numbers over the whole season, especially in some of the worst weather I ever saw for rugby. While it was hard on the seconds team to not get a chance to play their final, they still had a great season and I want to thank Simon Gaskell for all the hard work he put in over the season.”

“I also want to thank our many sponsors The Old Mill, The Maldron Hotel, Origina, Welltel, Ashley Ford, Jones Engineering, Firetrade and Landscape Depot for their fantastic support this season. Finally I was to wish the whole Tallaght RFC family good health at this tough time and I can’t wait until the time comes that we can get together to celebrate a second league win in a row.”

Whenever normality resumes, Tallaght will have the awards night and the team will be presented with their trophy and medals along with the normal awards for all the teams. Until that happy day please all stay safe and well until we can all come together again as a club.

Covid 19 Update

To our players, members, volunteers and supporters.

As you are fully aware our government has announced a number of measures to limit the spread of Covid 19 across the country. It goes without saying the health, welfare and safety of our rugby family is absolutely paramount. With this in mind and following IRFU/Leinster directives we have no option but to cease all club activities until at least the 29th of March 2020.

This means all teams will cease training, all matches will be postponed and all club related social activities are cancelled until further notice. We appreciate that this is disappointing news especially with two big finals coming up in the next two weeks. However we have a responsibility as a club and we must do what’s best for everyone at this time.

We hope that you and your families remain safe and well during this period. Should the situation change we will update you accordingly across our social media platforms.

Metro 6 Final Preview

Tallaght 1sts v Terenure
Metro League Division 6 final
Saturday 14th March 2020
Tymon Park
Kick-off 3PM

The Tallaght men’s firsts team have made their Divisional final for the fourth year running. They take on Terenure in the Divsion 6 final on Saturday the 14th of March in Tymon park at 3PM.

Last season Tallaght finally broke their duck to win Division 7 after losing the in the final in the previous two seasons. This earned them promotion to Division 6, the highest level Tallaght have ever played at. But they were boosted by some new signings with former players Denny McCarthy and Ciaran Rudd rejoining after spells away. The likes of Niall Mahon, James Carr, Scott Hyland, Ben Flynn and Nick McGuinness also joined to add real depth to the squad.

Tallaght began the season well with wins over Guinness and Seapoint as they began their defence of John Madden Cup, which they also won last year. They then beat Seapoint again in the league opener. In the next game they faced fellow finalists Terenure for the first time away in Lakelands. They scored two late tries after trailing for most of the game to edge the contest by two points. They followed that up with a fine win in terrible conditions away to Coolmine.

The next week though they suffered the first and only defeat of the season at home to Trinity College when they lost an entertaining game by a point. Tallaght bounced back superbly though, thrashing Barnhall away from home 40-17 in their last game before Christmas. In their first game back after Christmas, Tallaght stuttered to an unconvincing win over Seapoint away.

Then they took on Terenure for the second time. This time Tallaght led for most of the game before falling behind in added-on time at the end of the match. However they found a way to get back up the pitch and kick a penalty to win, again by just the two points like the game earlier in the season. The week after Tallaght beat Coolmine at home in another tight match. They then comfortably won their last three games against Trinity, Barnhall and Guinness conceding only one try along the way. The Tallaght seconds team have also earned their place in the Division 11 final against Clondalkin, which will take place in Gordon Park on Saturday the 21st of March.

Tallaght head coach Tom Leigh is looking forward to the final this weekend. “After getting promoted last season we initially thought it might take us a season or two to adjust to the higher level. But we quickly became aware that we were more than able for the standard. We’ve scored the most points and conceded the fewest in the division and only lost the one game. We know it will be a very tough final against Terenure though. Both of our previous meetings this season were only won by two points so we’ve got the utmost respect for them. But I believe that we can win if we bring our A game on the day.”

“The best thing about this final is that it’s the first one ever to be hosted in Tallaght. Our support has been amazing for the previous three finals which were all away so we’re delighted our fans don’t have to travel far this time. People are working behind the scenes to make the final a great day for all the family so we’re hoping as many members of the Tallaght community as possible come out to support us. It’s been a great reward for the hard work the whole squad put in to have both the firsts and seconds in their divisional finals. We’re going to do our best to give both teams the best chance of success.”

The whole Tallaght squad was given a great boost on Monday when former Ireland international Donncha O’Callaghan met with them in the Old Mill bar to hold a Q&A and also present the jerseys to both teams ahead of their finals.

They also had a great training session last week with guest coaches Colin McEntee and Ultan O’Callaghan, brother of Donncha. There was a further boost for the whole club when Murray Kinsella wrote an excellent article about the rise of the club for the

The excitement is building so hopefully the weather behaves itself and there is a great turnout to support the lads on Saturday afternoon.

Donncha O’Callaghan Q&A

Ahead of both team’s upcoming finals, the Tallaght men’s squads has a very special visitor to the Old Mill bar and restaurant on Monday night. They welcomed former Munster, Ireland and Lions second row Donncha O’Callaghan. Donncha first held a question and answer session and then presented both teams with their jerseys for the upcoming finals.

It was a very interesting and enjoyable evening. Donncha was as amusing as ever but he also shared some valuable insights into winning cup finals with the lads. Afterwards he posed for pictures with each of the players as he gave them their jerseys. Everyone at Tallaght RFC wishes to express their gratitude to Donncha for being so generous with his time. We also wish to thanks coach Gary Brennan for organising the event and Anne Kavanagh for the great photos.

Tallaght 10 CYM 22

Tallaght R.F.C. 10

Tries: Aisling Pyke 2

CYM R.F.C. 22

Women’s League Division 4B
Tymon Park

The Tallaght women’s team played their final home league game of the season at home to CYM. Tallaght started well and after a great break by Ellen Crotty, Aisling Pyke followed up to score a try to make it 5-0 to Tallaght. However shortly afterwards a CYM player suffered a serious leg injury and the game was held up for an hour until an ambulance could take her away. Everyone at Tallaght RFC wishes the player the very best for her recovery.

When the game resumed CYM looked sharper and got over for a try out wide. Things didn’t get easier for Tallaght when they lost Lisa Connors and Louise Lombard to injury in quick succession. However the outstanding Aisling Pyke scored another fantastic try, busting several tackles along the way to make the half-time score 10-5 to Tallaght.

In the second half Tallaght began brightly and Megan Fogarty looked certain to score another try from a breakaway but she was tackled close to the line and the Tallaght support was too slow to get there and Fogarty was turned over. When the excellent Chloe Kearns was forced off through injury Tallaght found themselves down to 14 players. At this level it’s customary to drop a player to keep the numbers even but CYM had no interest in that. They kept their numerical advantage, even when Tallaght temporarily lost another player and were down to 13.

The numerical advantage told in the end and CYM scored three tries in the second half to win 22-10. Tallaght showed good heart but their passivity at the rucks was once again their downfall. Tallaght now face North Meath away in their final league game of the season.

Woman of the match: Aisling Pyke

Report: Jim O’Connor

Weekend Fixtures 7-8th March

It’s another busy weekend of rugby ahead with some key games for Tallaght.

First up on Saturday there’s the women’s teams re-arranged fixture at home to CYM in Division 4B. Kick-off is at 11.30 AM in Pitch 100.

Then there’s the men’s second’s crucial clash with CYM. The seconds are hope to follow the firsts by earning a place in the Division 11 final. They take on third place CYM and whoever wins is in the final. Kick-off is 3.00PM in Tymon Park.

Update: CYM had to concede due to a lack of numbers so Tallaght go into the final.

In the youths on Saturday, the Under 18s Bistos take on North Meath in a first versus second clash in Division 2. Kick-off is 12PM at St. Mary’s ground in Templeville Road. The Under 14’s girls have Ireland’s Fittest family training on Saturday morning at Pitch 100. Time to be confirmed but it will be before ladies match.

On Sunday the Under 8’s and Under9’s are travelling to Suttonians meeting at the school for 8.30 with a 9.30 KO. The Under 11’s are also in Suttonians with a kick-off at either 10 or 10.30. Training for all others.

Please make every effort to support all our teams.

Guinness 5 Tallaght 1sts 40

Aaron Shanahan

Guinness 5

Tallaght 1sts: 40

Tries: Niall Mahon, Adam Nolan, Jack Russell, David Clarke, Rob Hudson, Padhraig Jones
Con: Adam Nolan 3, Rob Hudson 2

Metro League Division 6
Iveagh Grounds

The Tallaght men’s firsts team took on Guinness in their final regular league fixture of the season. Once again they had to play in the wind and rain as storm Jorge made it’s presence felt. Tallaght didn’t take long to score with Niall Mahon crossing the line to make it 5-0. Then skipper Adam Nolan got over for his sixth try of the season and converted it himself to make it 12-0. Then a great pass from Mahon put Aaron Shanahan away and he offloaded to Kevin Quinn. Quinn then put Jack Russell away to score under the posts meaning all of the back row now had a try to their name. Nolan converted to make it 19-0. Guinness ended the half positively scoring a try to make it 19-5 at half-time.

In the second half Tallaght raced away with the game as David Clarke, Rob Hudson and Padhraig Jones all scored tries. Hudson converted two of them and Nolan converted the last one to make it 40-5 to Tallaght. With the game long since over a contest the referee made the sensible call to blow up the game early much to the relief of the players and supporters as the conditions were worsening.

Tallaght coach Tom Leigh was satisfied with the performance. “It was our second time playing here in the last two weeks and once again the conditions were horrendous. Despite that we played some good rugby and scored some excellent tries. Now it’s just about preparing for the final against Terenure in two weeks time.”

Man of the match: Jack Russell

Tallaght RFC

1. Alan Sower
2. Ken McGovern
3. Tony McManus
4. Colin Morrison
5. Kevin Quinn
6. Jack Russell
7. Niall Mahon
8. Adam Nolan (Captain)
9. Andrew Rudd
10. David Clarke
11. Aaron Shanahan
12. Padhraig Jones
13. Nick McGuinness
14. Luke Brady
15. Simon Collie
16. Andy Caswell
17. Andy Grace
18. Rob Hudson
19. Luke Maher

Report: Audrey Fulham/Jim O’Connor
Photo: Anne Kavanagh

Tallaght 2nds 0 Coolmine 0

Ste Heaney

Tallaght 2nds: 0

Barnhall: 0

Metro League Division 11

The Tallaght Men’s second team travelled to Coolmine after the pitch in Tymon Park was called off by the council yet again. Tallaght started well and looked to have scored a try early in the match but the referee disallowed it. Tallaght dominated the first half and nearly scored a try when Mark Keogh carried off the back of a scrum but the referee ruled he had put a foot in touch.

The wind and constant rain made playing attacking rugby very difficult but Tallaght didn’t do themselves any favours either with some very poor decision making. Too often players were guilty of carrying too high into the tackle leading to turnovers. When the backs did make a break they often chose to kick the ball away instead of looking for support and ended up just losing the ball.

The trend continued in the second half with Tallaght dominating. Mark Keogh came close to scoring a try again but this time the ball slipped for his hand as he put it down. Scrum-half Karl Segrave looked to be through for a try but he was stopped by a high tackle that really should have earned the Coolmine player a yellow card. Even when Coolmine did finally get a yellow card after a succession of high tackles Tallaght couldn’t take advantage and the game finished 0-0.

Tallaght manager Simon Gaskell was left frustrated by his side’s performance. “We haven’t played in about six weeks and there was some understandable rustiness. But even so that doesn’t excuse some of our decision-making when we got close to their line. We left about thirty points out there. We defended well against a big Coolmine pack which is a positive but we need to work on our attack. We now need to beat CYM next week to make the final so we’ll need to play a lot better than today but we’ll work hard in training this week to put things right.

Man of the match: Jordan Corrigan

Tallaght 2nds

1. Dave Kelly
2. Simon Gaskell
3. Shane Mooney
4. Padraig O’Ciadha
5. Patrik Toth
6. Sean Judd
7. Joe Ivers
8. James Carr
9. Karl Segrave
10. Ciaran Stewart
11. Brandon Wilson
12. Gavin McKeon
13. Jordan Corrigan
14. Michael Corrigan
15. Wayne Stewart
16. Mark Keogh
17. Tony O’Loughlin
18. Shane Maguire
19. Daniel Pomares
20. Brian Donnelly
21. Stephen Heaney

Report: Jim O’Connor
Photo: Anne Kavanagh