CLONDALKIN RFC kicked off their new season last weekend in impressive style with a 63-10 win over Garda in the annual Paul “Caff” Caffrey memorial match at Westmanstown last Saturday.
Caffrey was a valued and popular member of both Clondalkin and An Garda Siochana and his untimely passing in 2006 is commemorated on an annual basis with a challenge match between these teams.
Leinster League Division 1A side Clondalkin have a challenging programme this year in the provinces top division with the addition of the All-Ireland Junior Cup to play for, while Garda Rugby are looking to regroup after a disappointing season which saw them slip down into Division 2A.
At this stage of the calendar, getting some game time under the belt after the summer training is the most important factor.
Clon’s John Bagnell and new forwards coach Alex Mihajlovic would have been happy with their charges as the superior fitness was demonstrated from the off and the scores came thick and fast for the Dublin 22 men. A late Garda rally in the second half saw them get over the try line but at the end Clondalkin won out comfortable winners.
It preludes the return to the competitive season with the defence of the Hosie Cup won last term starting against Cill Dara this weekend and is one of the exciting challenges ahead for this season’s club captain Simon King.
Speaking to GazetteSport this week, King says his side is looking to push on further after a 2013-14 season in which Clon were named Leinster Junior Club of the Year.
“Since last season ended, the players have been hard at work in the gym and using the time off from rugby very productively,” he said.
“We came back to full team training in mid-July so we are getting back up to speed again. The coaches have started to impose the structures we will be using this year and the intensity is really starting to pick up.”
Following the initial phases of the Hosie Cup, the side return to league action Leinster’s Division 1A for a second year in the top tier in the province.
“After consolidating our position in Division 1A, we have shown we are good enough to compete with the best of them and not just make up numbers.
“There are seven very good teams in our league, but we have learned a lot from last year and we will look to improve on all aspects of our game. We will have our first outing in the All-Ireland Cup later this year, which is a challenge the whole club is looking forward to.
“With the depth we have throughout the squad, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be able to compete on all fronts. We have always been ambitious, and I want to set our targets higher than they have ever been.”