After a mixed year last year Dundalk Rugby Club are eagerly awaiting the 2013/14 season.
The club are looking to build on last season’s quite successful campaign. The young squad finished fourth in the Leinster League and won the Towns Plate competition after the disappointment of being knocked out of the first round of the prestigious Towns Cup.
It was after that defeat in January that the club went unbeaten to finish the season strongly. In the process they have qualified for the All Ireland Junior Cup and will be hoping to do better this year in that competition than compared to previous attempts.
The club have secured the services of player/coach Ene Fa’atau for another season, which is great news for the club. It will be Ene’s sixth season in charg,e were he has developed an exciting brand of rugby.
This year the League looks like its going to be a much tighter affair. With Tullamore qualifying for All Ireland senior league, it looks like the Mill Road outfit could be in with a chance of winning their first league title since 1995.
That year under the captaincy of Pat Hughes, the club were also under the coaching guidance of another Kiwi, Mark Benton who steered the team to the title, only to be denied promotion as the league was in its inaugural stage.
Maybe its coincidence, but perhaps a fellow Kiwi will be able to guide this young and exciting squad to the title. It won’t be an easy ask though and the biggest challenges look likely to come from the capital.
Coolmine and Wanderers have recruited well in the off-season and will be looking to push into the senior ranks. There was no doubt who Dundalk’s star man was last season. Afa Fa’atau was enormous for the club last year.
The bulky centre scored 16 tries in 14 league games and will be sorely missed by the club this year. The club however are currently actively looking to recruit an overseas player to strengthen the squad and hope to have a player over in the coming weeks.
The club are also busy recruiting past players and have been able to get a number of former youth players back for the coming season. There seems to be a great buzz around the place and all the players are looking forward to preseason which begins tonight, Tuesday(July 16) at 7pm.
It also gives a chance for new players to give rugby ago. With the success of the British and Lions Tour in Australia, it seems like there is no better time to give rugby a try.
Club Captain, Thomas Campbell has urged anyone who would like to give it a go or return to the club, that they will be very welcome by all the squad.
“We have three senior teams and thankfully its not all about the first team. There is a place for all abilities at the club from the social player to the more competitive player. We have a great coaching team in place and we have the full support of the club committee.
“Everyone is doing their bit to improve the club on and off the field. We are really looking forward to working hard over preseason. If we can improve on last year then we have a real chance of been up challenging for the league come March. Its great when new players come to the club. It freshens things up and it makes it more difficult for everyone to get their place”, added the captain.
It really seems that with a bit of luck, the 2013/14 season can be year to remember at the Mill Road.