I would like to extend a very warm welcome to all visitors and members of Lansdowne FC. It is a huge honour to return from a year studying in London as club captain for the 2019/2020 season. I have been fortunate enough to play under some exceptional leaders during my first two years with the club, most notably our captains from the previous two seasons, Eamonn Mills and Ian Prendiville. Their determination on and off the field was an example for us all and I hope to lead the club in a similar manner.
There have been a number of changes to the coaching set up this year as we push to win back the AIL from last year’s deserved winners, Cork Con. Mike Ruddock and Mark McHugh return as 1st XV coaches and we are fortunate to have their experience guiding us through the season. Niamh Connolly has also returned as the squad’s physio after a successful first year with the club. Will Matthews has moved on as J1 coach and he is replaced by Charlie Doel. Charlie will bring new ideas and we are looking forward to working with him. Dave Tighe and Damien O’Sullivan, our strength and conditioning coach and nutritionist, have moved on after a number of successful years with the club and I would like to wish them all the best with their future endeavors. They are replaced by Dan Moore. I have had the pleasure of working with Dan in the past as he was my S&C coach when I was in school and so I know he will bring a new and professional format to the S&C programme, from which we have seen plenty throughout our preseason training! We are strongly supported again by Steve Rooney, Colin Goode and Paddy Gore.
We are given the best possible framework of coaches and backroom staff within Lansdowne to fulfill our potential on the pitch and I know everyone will work tirelessly this coming season to ensure we achieve this.
My club journey began in UCD RFC where I played both U20 and AIL rugby for 3 seasons. After 3 years it was time for a change and having suffered at the hands of Lansdowne on numerous occasions over the previous years, they were an obvious choice both in terms of the quality of rugby played and the atmosphere that surrounds the club. My career with Lansdowne had a fairytale beginning as we went on to complete the provincial and national double in what was a very successful and enjoyable season for me personally. I am now heading into my third season with the club and am looking forward to working with our excellent coaches, both old and new, as well as my teammates, again both old and new.
Lansdowne members have been busy away from the club over the summer. Congrats to last year’s AIL top try scorer Peter Sullivan who has earned trials with Connacht. Similar to Peter, David O’Connor is heading up to Ulster to play alongside his brother Alan after a successful first year with the club. They will be sorely missed but I’m sure they will be excellent representatives for Lansdowne on the provincial stage. Lansdowne once again had a strong contingent involved with the Ireland 7s squad who had a very successful year. The 7s secured their spot on the world series next year having won the qualification tournament in Hong Kong. Adam Leavy, Foster Horan, John O’Donnell, Ian Fitzpatrick and the returning Mark Roche were instrumental in achieving this. This qualification was followed by excellent performances in the London and Paris world series events. I got to see the lads first hand at the London event and it’s fair to say they have well and truly earned their spot on the series for next year. Congrats also to Jack O’Sullivan who is Lansdowne’s latest addition to the 7s squad. I wish all the lads as well as the rest of the squad all the best for next year’s debut on the world series. Outside of the professional game, I would like to congratulate Eamonn Mills, Dan McEvoy, Ian Prendiville and Jack O’Sullivan who represented the Ireland Clubs side last season.
There have been a number of notable departures from last year’s senior squad. Scott Deasy, Ian Prendiville and Aaron Conneely allplayed their final games for the club whilst on tour to the USA. The setting of Traver’s island, home to the New York Athletic Club, was a very fitting send off for the lads who have all given so much to the club. Willie Earle is another man who has unfortunately hung up his boots. Willie epitomised everything that we as a club stand for. I would like to wish my best to the four lads and everyone else who has moved on from the club, you will all be sorely missed. Whilst a number of our senior players have moved on, we are excited to welcome several players who have joined the club as well as a number of last year’s U20s squad who now make the step up to the senior squad.
Their presence and enthusiasm has been felt throughout our preseason training and I’m sure they will continue to have an impact as we move through the season.
At the end of last season, the club set off on tour to the USA after a huge amount of work went in throughout the year organizing the logistics of the tour and organizing various fundraising activities, including a blind date for Lansdowne’s most eligible bachelors. A massive thanks to everyone who lent a hand in organizing a truly memorable trip and in particular to Kieran Mulligan. Kieran put in a huge amount of work during his year as president and the tour was a fitting send off for him. The mix of rugby and social activities created a strong bond throughout the group of players and management which will be carried forward to this coming season. A month away from each other was needed, after a very enjoyable but very long eleven days, prior to beginning preseason and spending the next eleven months together!
Many memories were created which will be fondly looked back on over the coming season and in the future beyond that.
On behalf of the players I would like to thank our sponsors for their continued support without which we would not be able to compete at the highest level. I would also like to extend my best wishes to our president for this year, Derry Shaw, and assure him that we will do our best on the pitch to make his year a memorable one.
Finally, I wish the best of luck to all who pull on the Lansdowne jersey, from our minis up to the senior team. Thank you to everyone involved with Lansdowne FC and I look forward to seeing you supporting all of our teams.