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Many months ago, when the 21st August 2010 was chosen for the formal opening of the celebrations of the Donaghadee RFC’s 125th anniversary, the date seemed propitious and appropriate.

However, as the date drew near, the distractions and diversions of summer conspired against the decision. When the selection of the home side was being considered, reasonable excuses such as last-minute holidays, end-of-season cricket, sailing and golf events raised their heads. This was inconvenient, but not too much. Identifying and persuading visiting players to be part of the guest XV met similar difficulties. These were in addition to meeting the demands of coaches who, probably rightly, considered the players’ own club demands were more important than a social game at Donaghadee. Whatever, last Saturday Donaghadee had to settle for a game that was something of an internal trial match.

When the first news of this surfaced there were those who were a bit disappointed. But in the event the players put on a good and competitive game of rugby football. With new faces complementing the almost-intact 2009/10 squad and fit and ready to show their stuff, the teams comprised all the best players in the Donaghadee club playing against each other. The club’s new coach Jimmie McCoy was on a well-deserved holiday and everything on the playing field was well handled by last season’s captain Andy Monson.

With nothing tangible to play for and only personal rivalries and later bragging rights at stake the only real urgency of this game was that this coming Saturday Donaghadee is hosting a club visit from Letterkenny Rugby Club at Donaldson Park. Note for diary: Saturday 28 August, 2.30pm. If the commitment and talent are as good as shown last Saturday (ask Woodsy and Bill about that tackle), then all who attend are in for a treat.

Last week the practice game was followed by a most enjoyable late afternoon of rugby fellowship. Some of the large number present went home happy that they had had a good day, and with comments such as “Wasn’t it great to get back to the rugby season?” Others had been obliged to pace themselves and sustain their energies for the commemorative Dinner that was held that same evening at the club.

The numbers obliged the club to bring in a luxury marquee, and it, plus an amazing band and the catering excellence of Posh Nosh, produced a wonderful evening that many considered was as good as any they had ever attended.

So, Donaghadee’s 125th rugby season is well and truly launched. The much-awaited visit of the men from north Donegal promises another fine weekend, and the prospect of the first Qualifying League game against Enniskillen the following Saturday, 4th September, has brought everyone at the seaside club to a pitch of excitement. By the way, the game against the ‘Skins is at Donaldson Park, so put it in your diary.

All those who saw the same visitors snatch a last-minute and surprise victory 17-14 in the Provincial Towns’ Cup Semi-final from the very jaws of defeat will want to see the men in red and green get the revenge that would give their big season the start they want.

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