Donaghadee RFC Notes: A Clubman Reflects On The Season: Which Included Becoming The All ULSTER Millar McCall Wylie Junior Cup CHAMPIONS!

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Now that the playing season is over it is an appropriate time to reflect on the giant strides forward the Club has made during 2011/12. When the 1st XV set out in Q1 in September – back in the top slot for the first time in four years – the stated aim was merely consolidation ie… don’t get relegated!! In the event the side played well above expectation and indeed led Q1 at Christmas and, of course, won the Millar McCall Wylie Junior Cup against Coleraine for the first time in 53 years. The Final itself was a magnificent occasion played in dreadful weather but in front of the biggest crowd seen at Ravenhill for a domestic final in many , many years with well in excess of a dozen coaches being hired by the Club and many other organisations from the town. The official attendance was stated as being 1,400, the reality was closer to 3,000 (my opinion). In Q1 the side finished 4th and, in so doing, qualified for the prestigious All Ireland Cup next season along with Clogher Valley, Cooke and Ballymoney. And so, a magnificent season and the most successful since the 1920s. On behalf of the Club Council, members and supporters I would like to take the opportunity to thank the entire playing, coaching and management squad for their unstinting effort during the course of the season which rendered it the most enjoyable and successful that anyone can remember. Well done Bill, Ricardo, Bobby, Ian, Nigel, Finn, Rory, McGiv, Pablo, Ally, Andy, Millsie, Kenny, Richard, Andrew, Paddy, Chrissy, Maccers, Thompo, Kalave, Kyler, Ryan, Etto, Hammy, Phil, Goody & Scho. (if I’ve missed anyone – sincere apologies and please feel free to add yourself below). Special mention goes to Ricardo whose kicking prowess far out-shadowed any that have gone before him. The foregoing are the lucky ones who got to play but there were many more lads throughout each of the teams within the Club whose support both in training and on the occasions they were asked to step up played just as an important part in the success enjoyed by the Club during the season. No side gets there on their own so special thanks is due to Head Coach Ian Martindale and Assistant Coach John Blewitt for their leadership and skill during the course of the season (see TV interviews above) – magnificent lads. The 1st XV was managed by Club Hon. Sec. Peter Matthews whose dedication to the task was outstanding and whose attention to detail alleviated the weight from the shoulders of players and coaches alike. As with any other successful side medical support is vital so special thanks to both the physio, Niall Moraghan, who unstintingly kept the boys on the pitch whenever possible and Dr. Michael Doyle who attended all home matches that his hectic schedule allowed. Off the pitch the lads were more than ably supported by Ian Fleming (Chairman), Tom Trainor (Treasurer), Jonny Martindale (PRO), Andy Monson (Director of Rugby) and many more who can all reflect on a job well done.
The 2nd XV had a much improved season under the leadership of Andy Cash and Ricky Gullen with special mention going to coach Stuart Hennessy whose dedication and skill was admirable – often in the face of difficult circumstances.
The 3rd XV (under Phil Weston and Mark Poole) had an enjoyable season and the Club’s thanks are due to all who played for the Thirds during what is a difficult period of transition with older players hanging up the boots and their youthful counterparts bedding themselves into life in Minor rugby.
And so 2011/12 will live long in the memory but that is now what it is – a memory (albeit an exceptionally good one) and the Club and its players must look forward to 2012/13 in a quest for creating even better memories. Lets do it again lads and make it even better this time………
PS – Nothing wrong with memories by the way so please see the above posts and enjoy!!
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