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,