Clondalkin RFC double delight J1 and J2 titles

by Dave Donnelly

Clondalkin RFC celebrated a unique double at the weekend as their J1 and J2 sides sealed their respective Leinster League Division 2A titles.

The first team earned promotion back to Division 1B at the first attempt thanks to a comprehensive 44-0 win over Railway Union which saw them pip Cill Dara to the title by a single point.

The club’s second team were also crowned champions of their equivalent division at J2 after winning all 12 of their league games.

For Phil Byrne, who coaches both sides, it’s vindication for the club after last year, in which they thought they had earned a relegation reprieve following a play-off win over Railway Union.

However, the relegation of Bective Rangers from the AIL back to the Leinster League meant room had to be created for them in Division 1A, meaning Clondalkin dropped back to the third league.

“We’re the fastest-growing club in Leinster and have been for a few years now,” Byrne tells the Dublin Gazette.

“We’ve had relative success in the last number of years. We were up in Division 1A for three years a number of years ago, but we got there through play-offs after finishing second in the league.

“So it was nice to actually win a league this time and not worry about play-offs and what will or won’t happen with the AIL.

“We finished second in 1B a couple of years ago. We only got relegated last year. The ultimate aim is to get back to Division 1A, where we were a couple of years ago.”

The first team went into the final day’s play at Gordon Park in Kingswood knowing a bonus point win would be enough to seal the title regardless of Cill Dara’s result against New Ross.

They duly delivered with seven tries in total, completing the bonus point shortly after the break in fitting circumstances when captain Brian Doyle rolled in on the back of a maul.

It was the second of the hooker’s three tries on the day, after he’d dotted down under the posts to make it 22-0 at the break.

Clondalkin were 17-0 up inside 20 minutes thanks to tries from out-half Chris Jebb, who added two conversions and a penalty, and winger Niall Nolan.

Jebb added a fifth, and his second, try later on, while Tom Brady also touched down in the right corner before Doyle rounded things off with his third.

And Byrne feels that, in contrast to last season, the performance of the second team has spurred the first team onto better consistency as they seek to hold onto their jerseys.

“We have strength in depth and lads competing for jerseys. I think the desire of a lot of lads in the second team wanting to play first team has spurred them on to win their league.

“They won their league pretty easily.

“They won every match and were head and shoulders above everyone else, which was a real indication of the strength and depth we have compared to the other teams around us.”

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