Metro League Division 7
02/11/13 Tymon Park
Kick-off: 2.30

This season, junior club rugby in Dublin has undergone a massive revamp. The previous system was known as “J-rugby” where teams played from levels J1-J6, J1 being the top standard. There were also various sub-divisions within those levels which made judging lower standards somewhat confusing at times. Now the whole league has been streamlined to 11 divisions of mostly eight teams each with promotions and relegation to be decided by play-offs at the end of the season between the bottom two and the top two teams.

After a couple of tough seasons in the Leinster League Division 3, Tallaght’s first team came back into the Metro fold this season and were placed in Division 7. This would have been the equivalent of J4 A in the old structure and some of the other clubs may have raised an eyebrow at this. The last time Tallaght competed in the J4 A league, back in the 2009/10 season, they didn’t win a single game and took a fair amount of hammerings.

However Tallaght have caused something of a stir within club circles with their unbeaten start to the season. There were scrappy, tight wins over Coolmine, Stillorgan and Old Wesley before a comprehensive win away to Parkmore. There’s a massive feel-good factor about the team, which is being coached by Brian Curtis in his second season as the head man. Players like Simon Sweeney, Bernard “Jack” Russell, Sam Lawless, Colin Malone and Aaron Morgan have returned to the club after absences for varying reasons and younger players like Ciaran Stewart, Dave Clarke, Stephen Heaney and Alan Moore are becoming major influences on the team.

More than anything there is a real sense of competition for places in the squad which is driving performance levels and expectations both in training and on the pitch. As well as they’ve done so far, the players know themselves they can play even better and they will need to against second-placed Old Belvedere. Belvo have won three from four, their only defeat coming in a high-scoring match at home to third-placed AIB.

In their short history, Tallaght have played Old Belvedere five times in competitive matches and lost each time. Apart from one game, where Tallaght only lost 14-3, Belvo have put some big scores up on Tallaght and their average margin of victory has been 44 points over the five games. Generally the more experienced Belvo teams simply out-classed Tallaght although to be fair to the men from Anglesea Road, they were gentlemen about it and never rubbed Tallaght’s noses in it. But the two clubs haven’t met in a competitive match since 2010 and a lot has happened in the last three years for Tallaght.

Tallaght know this will be their biggest test of the season so far and that, though Belvo will respect them, they will be expecting the same result as always. Tallaght can win but to do so they will need to produce their best 80-minute performance of the season with the whole squad focused from first to last. Whatever happens it should be a cracker of a match.

This is what grass-roots rugby is all about and Tallaght RFC would love the clubs’ supporters, friends and family to make a special effort to attend and shout the boys on. It’s a daunting test tomorrow against one of Dublin’s oldest and most prestigious clubs, but with the right attitude, this Tallaght team can make their own little piece of history and lay down a marker for the rest of the season that this is a team and a club to be taken seriously.

Jim O’Connor ©