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They say good things come to those who wait.

Well, never was a truer word spoken when it comes to our very own Paul Clinch (aka Clincher).

After a staggering 34 years in the wilderness, justice was finally served when Clincher was awarded his first Irish cap for proudly representing Ireland on the tour of North America in 1989 making him the oldest Lansdowne member in the 150 year history of the club to receive his first cap. That accolade alone must almost make it worth the wait as it’s a record that surely will never be broken!

He now joins the illustrious roll of honour of Lansdowne men who played for Ireland and he officially becomes Lansdowne 118th international. Fittingly he carries on a proud Clinch family tradition following his Grandad and Great Grandad who were also capped for Ireland.

Since the day he joined the club in 1986, fresh from Captaining Trinity, he has been and continues to be a great Lansdowne man. In his early Lansdowne years, he slotted seamlessly into a star studded backline including such greats as Johnnie Sexton ( the original!), Philp Danaher, Fergus Aherne, Greg Dilger, Fergus Dunlea, Rory Moroney, Willie Dawson, Noel Downer, Dave Moore and last but certainly not least, Pete Purcell, who set a new Leinster Club record for the most tries in a season in 1989. According to Clincher, he provided most of the scoring passes! In fairness the pack wasn’t bad either. ( before I get an earful from Basher).
That team went on to win numerous Leinster Senior Cups and Leagues and Clincher was in the heart of it all, Captaining the Club in the ’88 /89 season.

Since then he has remained loyal and committed to Lansdowne, coaching at many levels all the way from the Firsts to the Third D’s, most of who struggled to understand his instructions on how to receive and give a pass in one movement. (‘think of picking up a pint at a bar and handing it to a pal behind you.’) On top of this he served as a referee for many seasons and remains a fourth official to this day,  all the while championing Lansdowne Tag Rugby teams through thick and thin, bringing rarely seen levels of intensity to this gentle game and succeeding  (in the great Paul O’Connell tradition) of putting the fear of God into his own players, never mind the opposition.

His Tag Rugby adventures culminated this month (August 2023) with Clincher earning his Second Irish Cap playing for the over 50’s Irish Tag Rugby Team in the World Cup. This time he doesn’t have to wait another 34 years to get his cap which is just as well as he would be 96 at the time but even then I think we could expect him to take off his shirt and roller blade through the award ceremony.

Keep it going Clincher, you are an example to us all of how to stay young at heart and you have done Lansdowne proud, you Irish International you.

Johnnie Lombard
August 2023.



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