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Colin Goode

President of Lansdowne FC 2020-21

I am delighted and honoured to be elected President of Lansdowne FC for the upcoming 2020/21 season and welcome all members and visitors to our fine clubhouse and home in Lansdowne Road. I hope to represent Lansdowne FC as well as our distinguished Past Presidents have done since 1872. Although I only have to go back to last season and hope to emulate my predecessor 2019/20 President Derry Shaw whose term was unfortunately cut short as rugby and indeed the world came to grips with the Covid -19 Pandemic. Unfortunately as much as we thought then Covid would a temporary problem for us it has continued into this season and has become part of our new reality going forward.

It is an absolute credit and a source of pride to myself and all of our members that when the world was at its lowest Lansdowne FC was at its brightest and we as a club stepped up to the mark and raised money for vital PPE for Frontline staff both within our area and around the country. Lansdowne is not just an area club we are proud to have members all over the country and indeed all over the globe. It is these members who continue to enable us to support very deserving charities by raising and donating substantial amounts every year for very worthy causes such as Pieta House, The Peter McVerry Trust, IRFU Charitable Trust and our Frontline workers amongst the many we have supported in the past and will continue to support in the future. On behalf of our members I wish to thank everyone involved but in particular Doug Leddin & Derry Shaw for their great work in securing and distributing PPE to those in need.

We also had to endure losing our long time Senior Head Coach Mike Ruddock to the Ospreys in December last year. Mike left with all of our best wishes and  was a great addition to the club and it was fitting that he has now been confirmed as an Honorary Life Member at our AGM in May. Led by Mr Lansdowne our ever present Director of Senior Rugby, Stephen Rooney,  Coaches Mark McHugh & Ben Armstrong along with Scott Deasy and Philip Horan and the legend that is Paddy Gore, all stepped up and guided our seniors to a great second half of last season and into the play offs of the Energeia All Ireland League and a place in the Bateman Cup Final. Unfortunately, the season was cut short and the Bateman was deemed shared by both ourselves and Cork Con who we were on course to meet again in the AIL Semi Finals. The backbone of the club is our Under 20s with our senior side regularly fielding 75 to 80% of players that have come through our hugely successful 20s system and indeed we had several current under 20s in the senior team. Declan Fassbender will not like me saying it, but his record speaks for itself, he has become and is the most successful under 20s coach in Ireland and is ably assisted by Ben Armstrong and  Director of Under 20s Rugby Mark McMahon. They continued their unbeaten season of 2018 to just one league defeat last year and retained the JP Fanagan Premier 1 League Trophy and were fancied to do more damage in the cups before the season was halted. We are delighted to be able to add an addition Under 20 Pennant team this year with a resurgence of numbers directly attributed to the success of our youth system and under 17’s in particular. It is great to see these young men return to the club after their secondment to schools rugby  and we welcome new Head Coach Seb Berti who is very well assisted by returning player Clive Ross and are captained by grand son of legendary member Paul Van Cauwelaert aka Vanner. We also welcomed Charlie Doel as new coach of the J1’s and they had a great season leading the league for most of the season and loosing out on the title in a tightly contested play off final. Charlie along with the energetic John Kilroy are back again this season.  Our J2’s & J3’s have battled through a huge transition with over 25 retirements of long time players over the last couple of years and are now proving to be a force to be reckoned with once again. Junior rugby would simply have not survived without the hard work and dedication of Director of Junior Rugby Ian Hopkins who I can’t speak highly enough of the great work he does and that of Brian Whelan in particular who always has a smile on his face along with Dave Tunney , Reg White and Phil Donnellan we are lucky to have them involved.

We welcome close to 400 minis to Lansdowne every week and the organisation at this level is a sight to behold with parents, coaches and players swarming around Lansdowne Road in club colours on a Sunday morning. It is a great sight to see and to all of you involved at this level you bring a great vibrance and excitement to the club and produce the next generation to participate, play and run our club in the future. Great to the next generation of Quinn’s (Grandson of Mick and also Son of Graham), Forrest’s and McCarron’s along with my on nephew and Godson Harry all lining up for the under 6’s this year who no doubt will be the best looked after team in the club and will soon want to tour with seniors! Huge thanks to Brian Moran our Director of Mini & Youth Rugby and all of our mums and dads volunteering their precious time.

As I originally wrote this piece the Covid situation was growing more positive every day and the outlook has changed from doom and gloom to a more positive outlook both for our health and indeed sport and rugby in particular. It seems as we will regrettably be stuck in a cycle of ups and downs for the new future, but we are resilient people and will come out stronger the other side of it whenever that is. We have appointed our new Club Covid 19 Safety Officer Kieran Walsh also our Club Honorary Secretary who has his team of Covid 19 compliance officers working with him and overseeing all of the complicated new rules and regulations we must abide by if we want a safe return to rugby so a big thank you to all of you.

I am delighted to welcome former player and two time club Captain Enda Bohan on board as our new Chairman of Rugby, along with new Junior Vice President Mick Dawson (for the second time) and new Club Trustee Oisin O’Buchalla. Enda along with Mick & Oisin who need no introduction are lifelong Lansdowne men and are very reassuring and capable appointments  during these strange times and bring a wealth of experience and knowledge to vital areas of the club.

I am also very pleased to welcome Jack Dwan back as senior captain for a second term as I know Jack and the squad feel they have some unfinished business from last season’s abrupt end. It is a measure of the man that his fellow players voted him back in as Captain again this year and I am extremely proud to have Jack back as Lansdowne FC Club Captain for my year as president.

No more than our members we are blessed to have great staff in Lansdowne, and I look forward to working more closely with Michael Diskin & Elayne Power in continuing to keep our club as successful off the pitch as we have been on it in recent years. Louis Preston is working away doing ongoing maintenance around the club house and I am sure along with myself we are all hoping to see our bar manager Dave Mangan very soon.

To our sponsors we continue to be extremely grateful for your support, very simply and realistically we could not operate without your generous and continued support. I urge all members to support our sponsors and invest in them as they have invested in us.

I must also pay tribute to all of our club executive, Trustees, sub committees, registration & fixture secretaries who along with our club Referees, Medical Staff, Matchday Doctors, Physios, S&C Coaches, Match day Stewards ensure our club is run as well as it can be.

Our club’s great location and our great facilities are prized assets, but our greatest and most valuable assets are our people, our members, you! We have great people involved in our club from the mini & youths  right through to the 20s and seniors right down to the J3’s these difficult times have made us all realise how much we rely on rugby as an outlet in our day to day lives and how we miss our people and our club. I urge you to look out for your fellow members and support the club as much as you can especially through what is sure to be a very different season ahead. To those of you and there are many who helped me bed in and feel at home in Lansdowne FC over the years and guided me along the way to the lofty heights as President of this great club, I thank you and will continue to rely on your valuable and welcomed advice. I wish all of our teams. members and sponsors well for the upcoming season I look forward to welcoming all visitors to Lansdowne FC hopefully in the very near future. #LFCTID

Yours in rugby,

Colin Goode

Lansdowne FC

President 2020/21

Jack Dwan

Captain of Lansdowne FC 2020-21

I would like to extend a very warm welcome to all visitors and members of Lansdowne FC. It is a huge honour to return as club captain for the 2020/2021 season after an abrupt ending to last year. I was fortunate enough last season to be surrounded by a strong cohort of management and players who made my step up to captain as easy a transition as possible. It was a year in which we faced numerous challenges and overcame several obstacles and I am grateful to everyone who worked tirelessly to help both me personally and the team throughout the course of the season. I look forward to carrying last year’s experience with me into this season which again looks like it will be filled with plenty of uncertainty!

There were a number of changes to the coaching staff during last season. Mike Ruddock was deservedly offered a professional role with his native Ospreys, originally on a temporary basis which has since been confirmed as a permanent role. I would like to thank Mike for everything he has done for the club over his many years as the first team coach. He most certainly leaves the club in a better place than he found it, both in terms of the success that he achieved as well as the atmosphere and ethos that he fostered, cementing Lansdowne as one of the top clubs in the country. Mike’s departure meant a rapid transition was required with Mark McHugh successfully stepping up as head coach and continuing to build upon the foundations created by Mike. Ben Armstrong stepped up from the U20s as forwards coach and Phil Horan joined as a scrum specialist, I have enjoyed working closely with the new lads. Scott Deasy returned as backs coach having managed only four months away from the club and we were very grateful to have him back, albeit in a different role. The aforementioned 1st XV coaching staff return with a full pre-season and season to develop their own squad and I know everyone is looking forward to building on the work that they put in last year. Charlie Doel, Niamh Connolly and Dan Moore have also returned in their roles as J1 coach, squad physio and S&C coach respectively. We are also strongly supported again by Steve Rooney, Paddy Gore and Enda Bohan who has taken over from Colin Goode as Chairman. We have been given the best possible group of coaches and backroom staff within Lansdowne to fulfil our potential on the pitch and I know all the players will work tirelessly this coming season to ensure we achieve this.

Last season was most certainly filled with plenty of ups and downs. A lot of new faces joined the squad following the departure of some of the team’s pillars from the previous few seasons. We probably underestimated the difficulty of integrating the new squad and it took us a bit longer than expected to click as a team. After a difficult start to the season during which we lost five league games in a row and left us bottom of the table, there was an uplift in fortunes thanks to an increase in confidence within the squad as well as hard work. I have to give a massive thanks to the whole squad and management team for the way in which they not only continued to work hard after the difficult start but increased the energy and intensity within training and the group. It is a huge testament to the mental fortitude of the group that we rallied from this period to win eight of our last nine games and left us with an all-Ireland cup final and position in the All Ireland League top four and semi-finals to look forward to.

Unfortunately for all, things didn’t end as we would have liked due to the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. What ensued were a difficult few months and I would like to extend my condolences to all members who may have lost family or friends due to the pandemic and to any members who are recovering from the disease or struggling with the continued lockdown, I wish them the best and look forward to seeing them down in the club in the hopefully not too distant future.

It was a pity that we couldn’t win any silverware for last year’s President, Derry Shaw. I would like to thank Derry for everything he gave to the club over his years as junior vice president, vice president and president. My journey in Lansdowne began the same year as Derry’s junior vice presidency, so we have spent a lot of time together and it was an honour to share my year of captaincy with Derry as President.

A number of our teammates have made great strides in the professional ranks over the past few months. Congrats to Dan Sheehan who was awarded a senior contract with Leinster. Dan played an integral role in the team last year and I’d like to wish him the best as he progresses with his career. I’m sure it won’t be long before we see him wearing the blue of Leinster. Peter Sullivan recently earned his first senior cap for Connacht which was thoroughly deserved after being one of the standout players for us over the last two seasons. I wish him the best as he continues to progress with Connacht. Congrats also to Mark Hernan who featured prominently for an Ireland U20 side who had their sights set on a grand slam having won their first three games of the 6 nations before being cancelled because of the coronavirus. He was unfortunate to miss out on the opportunity of winning a grand slam and of representing Ireland in a Junior World Cup but we look forward to having Mark back in a Lansdowne jersey sometime soon. The onward progression of Lansdowne and indeed other club players to the professional game demonstrates the value of the club game in developing players.

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 have been felt throughout our preseason training and I’m sure they will continue to have an impact as we move through the season. Thanks to everyone who has made this preseason possible. A huge effort went into organizing separate training groups, locations and equipment to ensure we kept within the IRFU guidelines whilst also ensuring we amply prepared for the upcoming season.

Covid-19 has also led to the IRFU postponing the start of the All Ireland League until after Christmas for what will be a trimmed-down version of the league but winning this remains the number one priority for the squad. In the coming months we will compete in an extended Leinster League and although we would have preferred to compete in the AIL as usual, the Leinster League will allow us to play against a wider range of our provincial rivals, some of whom we have not faced in a number of years.

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, Colin Goode, 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, when you are allowed to do so!

Jack Dwan

Captain 2020-21

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