Festival atmosphere and marquee day  for huge Dublin derby

by Aaron Dunne
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Terenure College RFC say there will be a festival-like atmosphere and a huge welcome to everyone in their local community for their Energia All-Ireland League Men’s Division 1 Semi-Final this Saturday. 

The hospitality has also been extended to supporters of Lansdowne for the meeting of the two sides in Lakelands Park with a 2:30pm kick off.

Mark Hamilton is one of Terenure’s team managers. He’s in his 13th season in their 1st XV’s backroom team and says it’s a privilege to be involved.

“I honestly don’t think I’ve met a closer bunch of lads,” he told IrishRugby.ie.

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“Everyone has bought into our goal this season. It’s an absolute pleasure to be involved with them. There’s tremendous ability throughout the first and second squads but what really sums it up is how tight they are as friends off the pitch. They train, gym and recover together but they’d spend time with each other away from rugby as well.”

The have been working have been working hard in recent years and throughout the pandemic to make Lakelands Park a welcoming place for everyone in their community with the right rugby offerings to match. Hamilton says it’s influence the mix in their men’s first xv also.

“There’s a fair amount of lads who come through the school in Terenure but then there’s you’ve another chunk of lads who haven’t and they bring a really good balance to the group. They’d do anything for the club and they know what the club means to our community. We’ve been in some tight encounters already this season and that will to represent the club has really stood to us.

Energia All-Ireland League Division 1A, Lakelands Park, Dublin 20/11/2021 Terenure College vs Garryowen The Terenure team get a guard of honour before the game Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Evan Treacy

Like Clontarf on their half of the draw, Terenure College have seen a real boost in support this season – one that has helped drive the team all the way to the playoffs.

“The crowds have been brilliant,” say Mark, who is also Team Manager in the Ireland Club XV set up. “It creates a buzz at every game, not just at home but away as well because the travelling support have been phenomenal. 

“Again there’s a real mix of people who are new to the club but we’re seeing all those minis, underage players and parents in the club really get behind us. The numbers have been huge and the lads appreciate it so much.”

It’s clear that the success in the club is not solely defined by the fortunes of their AIL team. As Direcor of Rugby Ian Morgan says, “We have six men’s teams and an U20 team, we’ve been developing offerings for women and we’ve got the Terenure Tigers team for rugby players with a disability.

“Initiatives like our team of the month also helps to bring the club together because players from every team can be nominated. Coaches from every team attend a monthly rugby review meeting, they get to know eachother and it helps with the huge buy-in we’re getting from players going to each other’s matches.

“The biggest producer of support is players. They are enjoying their rugby and they’re getting their mates to come down. 

“It’s a good place to watch a game, especially with the outdoor seating and the pizza truck.  Most of our games are on a Saturday and when you have a seconds game taking place the same day, you know there’s going to be a buzz in the club that night.

“The coffee truck has been a huge success”, Ian says. “It brings people in from the local community. They can go for walks here, have a coffee and know that they’re welcome to matches. 

“It’s not a golf club but people have to know when they’re on – you can go four or five weeks without an AIL home game and social media has been a huge help with that. People know they are welcome and know when games are on. “

“Lots of clubs are doing lots of good things and we’re just trying to develop a base.  It’s coming together nicely.”

With great momentum behind the side’s results and a groundswell of support in full voice, is there a risk that the players might get ahead of themselves?

Energia All-Ireland League Division 1A, Lakelands Park, Dublin 20/11/2021 Terenure College vs Garryowen Terenure’s Craig Adams scores a try Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Evan Treacy

“No,” says Mark Hamilton, plainly. “Managing expectation can be difficult but this team will just keep doing what they’ve been doing. They’re a grounded bunch and they’re taking everything in their side.

“A number of the squad would have been involved in the 2018 semi-final which we lost at home 22-15 to Cork Constitution and that will also stand to them. 

“I’m 13 years in the back-room team but nearly 20 years involved in the club and this is the hardest working team I’ve seen.”

While the qualify of rugby between two of the most exciting teams in the division is assured, the ‘Nure are pulling out all the stops to ensure a full day of entertainment.

“We’re bringing in a marquee so we can accommodate as many of the extended local community as possible. We want the Lansdowne supporters to know they are really welcome too. 

“The pre-match lunch is sold out already but we’ve a waiting list and there will be lots of food options and entertainment for anyone who can make it to the match. It’ll be a special day for the parish.”

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