From a rugby perspective, it was both a very successful and, also, a very disappointing season.
Successful from an overall view with both the 2nd XV and 3rd XV wining their respective leagues and bringing back pennants to be proudly displayed in the Clubhouse. The disappointing aspect was the Senior XV; having a fantastic season, but, unfortunately, not gaining promotion back to Division 1A.
A playing record of 11 wins from 14 matches proved not to be enough to get back up again, regrettably our lack of bonus point wins contributing to the side only finishing in 3rd place in the League.
The three defeats included a loss to overall winners Suttonians, a harsh red card that proved instrumental to our loss against Longford and a rush of blood to the head was our undoing against Tullow. That we reversed those results the second time around was a tribute to the commitment showed by all the players during the year.
Double league victories were recorded over DLSP, Carlow, Coolmine and North Kildare to complete a strong showing for the season. A first round defeat to eventual winners Lansdowne in the Metropolitan Cup was also no dishonour to a team that competed throughout and never gave up.
Our gratitude to Manners, Brian Hogan as Director of Rugby, Chris O’Connor, John Carroll and Blaithin Brady for all their work during the season, and to Michael McLoughlin who led the team admirably.
At the end of the season, Hugh Going, Cathal Bannon and Dan Costello were all selected for the Leinster Junior Interprovincial squad, (which they retained) with Blaithin Brady again selected as team physio.
Our own Hugh Gowing gets on the scoresheet as Leinster win the Interpros yesterday! ? Congrats to our two boys involved and Bláth! #wanthetown #Leinster pic.twitter.com/NwtrFbFc7m
— Monkstown FC (@MonkstownFC) May 12, 2019
The 2ndXV had a magnificent season and again ensured silverware when they won the Division IB league title. 11 wins from 14 matches saw them soar to the apex of their division winning by a margin of 7 points at the end of the season. They were impressive throughout and indeed, if winning bonus points were a feature of this league, they would have accumulated another 6 points for scoring 4 or more tries in a match. A first round defeat to eventual winners Old Wesley in the Moran Cup spurred the league winning effort. Our thanks are due to David Kilbride, Fosi and Captain Ed Sweeney for the way they approached the season and entertained all who watched them.
A record of 10 wins from 12 matches meant that the 3rdVX had a 6 points advantage on top of Metro League 10. Indeed, again, if winning bonus points were awarded in this league, then the team would have amassed another 9 points as their attacking strategy bore many tries in their matches, with a final points total of 438 from only 12 games played. They still had to endure a promotion play off against their nearest rivals St Marys College who they beat easily to win the coveted pennant. A slow start in the 1st round against eventual finalists St Marys College in the Guilfoyle Cup was too much to overcome and they were narrowly beaten. Many thanks are due to mentor (and player) Brian Hogan, Ian Murray and captain Michael Slattery for another magnificent season.
At youth level, we again thank both Danny Dent and Tom Lehane. Although we failed to run a U20XV, they successfully joined up with Blackrock College to field a side at U17 age, alternating between Sydney Parade and Stradbrook for home games. Dave O’Brien again headed up the youth and minis section which has grown considerably every Sunday morning. James Ferris, Robbie Hamilton and, particularly, Alan O’Brien were to the fore, aided by a number of other parents to ensure that the ‘cubs’ of the Club were well catered for. A highlight for the minis was the hosting of Toulouse U12 and 2 other clubs for a tournament in December. Well done to all for this most important section within the Club.
We also welcomed the Dublin Dogos who, having no grounds available, made Sydney Parade their home for League matches. Founded by the Argentinian diaspora in Dublin, they have proved to be a popular addition to rugby in the Province. Additionally, our grounds have been used for training by TCD, AIB, Dublin Hospitals, Sandford Park and CUS– while this does add much welcomed revenue for the club, it must be balanced against the potential over use of the pitches. This aspect is being monitored closely by the Executive.
Off the field, there were many social and fund-raising events held during the season. Our Senior Vice President, Peter Mooney, presided over the annual IRFU Club draw which raised over €8K for the club. A very successful lunch was held before the Ireland v England International match in February.
Your President, Pierce Fitzpatrick, hosted a ceremony whereby we acknowledged the 150th anniversary of our co tenants, Pembroke, and he presented them with an original painting of his own of the Clubhouse and outfield. The Minis section hosted a Charity business lunch in April whereby they erected a huge marquee and entertained approx. 250 members and friends to a question and answer session with Leo Cullen (Leinster Rugby Head Coach), Fergus Slattery (Former Ireland Captain and Lions player), Andrew Balbirnie (Pembroke and Ireland Cricketer) and Sinead Goldrick (Dublin GAA player). The day was a huge success and highlighted our new Clubhouse and facilities to all. The Past Presidents Dinner and the Players Awards night were also successfully held in the Clubhouse in April. It is vital that ALL members support any fund-raising function in the Club – every season it gets harder to fund the playing of rugby and we all have a part to play.
In March, the opening of our new Gym saw both Clubs host an evening for all who were involved in the latest edition of the Covanta Capital Grant to Clubs. Our extended thanks again to Eamon Kelly and Eamon Tuffy who oversaw the funding of these grants. In the past 2 years we have seen much investment in the playing areas, a new hall, new dressing rooms, new showers, new toilets and a state-of-the-art Gym for the use of members. Our thanks also to our new joint groundsman Dale McDonagh who looks after the playing requirements of both Clubs.
Great win in the league final for our 3XV! Congrats to captain Michael Slattery & coach @hogiebp! #wanthetown pic.twitter.com/O0m07ihpnL
— Monkstown FC (@MonkstownFC) March 23, 2019
Eoin McHugh was always on hand to co-ordinate any communication out to members and updated the website as required. Dave Forrest again took on the onerous duties of Club Treasurer and kept the accounts in order. Garry Coughlan was a stalwart in performing his duties as Club Chairman – without his diligence and commitment many of the projects undertaken by the Committee would not have materialised. Both gentlemen are stepping down from next season, and the Club are indebted to both for their contributions.
Both Brendan McGovern and Michael Rothschild contributed significantly to the Executive Committee and oversaw some Club functions. Our thanks to John Fahy who kept the bar functioning throughout the season. And, of course, to Tony and Marie who were the smiling faces first encountered when we ordered our drinks after matches. As mentioned, Senior Vice President, Peter Mooney ran the IRFU draw, secured our Club sponsorship for next season and was always available on the Executive.
On the subject of sponsorship, our gratitude is extended again to former Captain Hugh Maguire for the Optimum Nutrition brand sponsoring the Club. To Sherry Fitzgerald and to Paul Sullivan for their ongoing support, our thanks. It is important that Club members support all our sponsors, for without their financial support the Club would be all the poorer. And a warm welcome to Niall McEvoy who has come on board through sponsoring the coming season with his U Value brand.
Paul Walsh and Ian Counihan again ran the most successful Annual Dinner and our thanks are due to them both.
Since our last AGM in May 2018, it is with regret that I report the death of two former Club stalwarts. Charlie O’Shaughnessy served as Club Treasurer and Club Secretary and Stuart Hamilton served on the Executive for a few years. May they both rest in peace.
Finally, to our Club President Pierce FitzPatrick a special word of thanks. Having served the Leinster referees for so long, he took to his new role with distinction and indeed was honoured by his former referees by being awarded the Ham Lambert award for distinguished service. He represented Monkstown with total professionalism during the season and deserves all our appreciation.
To everyone who helped me during the year, I am very grateful. Having served the Executive for nearly 30 years on and off in various capacities I will be stepping down from my role as Honorary Secretary at the end of next season. Looking now at the average age of the Executive, it is clear that new and younger blood is needed (with no disrespect to the current Committee!!).
We have all enjoyed many years of playing and giving back something to the Executive. However, it is time now for the younger members to step up to the mark and ensure that Monkstown Football Club not only continues but succeeds going forward – the ball is being passed on to you now – don’t drop the pass!!
Brian Aherne, Honorary Secretary, Monkstown FC
(The Hon Sec report for season 2018 / 2019, is provided as per Rule 5, section c of the Club Rules)