An historic day for the club, various members of the local community and dignitaries, including Munster coach Declan Kidney, were invited to witness the opening of the state of the art dressing rooms.
Ballincollig RFC is a relatively new club and its short history is a story in itself. This opening of the new dressing rooms marks the end of a period where the club saw itself go from one end of Ballincollig, sometimes with changing facilities and sometimes not, and the beginning of a period where, according to club President John Garrett, "itâ00s now all about the rugby."
Ballincollig RFC started off in modest circumstances as recently as 1978, when some more seasoned players from Ballincollig were trying to find a way to continue their playing career. Tony Lancaster is one of the founding members of Ballincollig RFC. He explained: â00It began with some older fellas trying to continue to play rugby, trying to play for an extra year or two and that is really how it started."
Groundless and boasting the bones of just one team, they began to play in local firm John A Woodâ00s GAA grounds in Ovens, County Cork. After a few years they moved to Murphyâ00s Farm in Bishopstown, and Inismore in Ballincolligâ00s Regional Park, and the Oriel House Hotel, the latter venue was the first that boasted something remotely akin to changing rooms. In 1991 came the break through from a man called Noel Tanner.
Tanner owned a bungalow opposite Classes Lake outside of Ballincollig, and was keen not to see buildings built opposite his house, so through some organisation, he sold his land across the road to what was to become Tanner Park, home of Ballincollig RFC.
All was not home and remotely dry for the players in Ballincollig RFC yet. The land in question was in fact a pond with surrounding swamp lands, someway short of todayâ00s two pitches. It took a landslide at the end of Corkâ00s Carrigrohaneâ00s Straight, and some helpful County Council members to make a Carrigrohaneâ00s disaster turn into Ballincollig rugby clubâ00s playing surface!
In 1991, Munster legend Tom Kiernan turned the sod, and by the 1993 season Tanner Park was operational as a playing field. If now we had the land, it was to be another four years for a clubhouse, which is one of the finest in Cork, and last weekend it was officially joined by high specification dressing rooms that any senior club would be proud of.
To celebrate the opening, Bishop Buckley had a few words, followed by a prayer from Father Sean Oâ00Driscoll, culminating in Batt O'Keeffe, Minister of State, doing the official opening.
Ballincollig RFC President John Garrett thanked the players, his family and club stalwarts who made the day possible, but special praise was reserved for Mick Oâ00Keeffe, in his project management, from all the players, as they say the experience of a shower in December thankfully will never be the same!
Ballincollig now boast not just one team but many teams - Junior Munster Division Two team, as well as South Munster Junior Two and Three League sides, Under-20, Under-18, Under-16 and Under-14 squads and a thriving Mini rugby set-up. The growth does not stop there - the club has another senior team, with the founding of the Ladies team back in 1995.
The club's future lies in Munster Junior League Division One, according to club President Garrett. He said: "We make no bones about our ambition to have the lads into Junior Division One rugby in the next three to four seasons, competing against the likes of Youghal and Cobh Pirates, and we would love to be playing Senior rugby in 10 years' time.
"We have made the investment in the infrastructure, and our club facilities are now at a level that they are the envy of some senior clubs."
EDDIE MADE LIFE MEMBER OF CLANWILLIAM RFC: Munster flanker Alan Quinlan will not be the only Clanwilliam RFC member flying south to Argentina later this month - Ireland coach Eddie O'Sullivan has been made a life member of the Tipperary club.
O'Sullivan visited Clanwilliam on Wednesday and on behalf of the club, President Robert Costigan presented Eddie with an honorary life membership.
Both Quinlan and O'Sullivan will have decent excuses for missing the upcoming Clanwilliam AGM at the club pavilion on Friday, May 25 - Ireland take on Argentina in their first Test of the summer tour just 24 hours later!
Some exciting developments lay ahead for the Tipperary men as aided by the â0¬8,000 grant of sport equipment they secured recently from the Department of Arts, Sports and Tourism, Clan hope to equip their new Collegelands facility for next season.
SHANNON 3RDS TRIUMPH IN MUNSTER FINAL: The Shannon 3rd XV completed their own version of the 'treble' last Sunday when they beat Cork Constitution 19-13 to lift the Munster Junior Two League title at Musgrave Park.
The win for Pat McLoughlin's side adds to their McInerney Cup and Gleeson League successes this season and but for defeat in the Webb Cup final, they would have been celebrating a clean sweep.
Despite Con throwing everything at the Limerick men in the dying embers of this excellent match, Shannon's sterling defence and ability to turn over ball at key stages saw them hold on to a precious lead throughout the ten minutes of injury-time.
Shannon led 14-10 at half-time, and should have been more ahead but four missed penalty kicks threatened to ruin their challenge. Centre Wes Daly burst through to score the opening try for Shannon, after a penalty from Brian Derham.
Full-back Derham, Con's most dangerous player in attack, then exposed a massive hole in the Shannon midfield to ghost over for a try which he converted himself and the Leesiders led 10-7.
However, Shannon's pack got on top for the remainder of the half and in the closing minutes, they helped force Con to concede a penalty try. After a clearance kick had been charged down close to the Con line, Shannon centre Peter O'Dea was hauled back illegally by a Con player as a certain try looked on. The conversion was tapped over by Neil Whelan and Shannon led 14-10.
A long range penalty from Derham reduced the arrears for Con, six minutes into the second half, and suddenly the effort was being upped on both sides. Con looked set to take the lead again but a Derham penalty dropped short.
A clearance kick from O'Dea got Shannon back on the move, into Con territory, from where they would strike soon after for their third and clinching try.
The score came from a close-in maul as the ball was fired out to lurking number eight Mark O'Brien, many observers' man of the match, who powered over out wide.
The conversion was missed but Shannon had enough in reserve to hold onto their six-point lead. They did just enough to warrant the win but tribute must also be paid to Con, who put a fine effort and can look back on a season of much success - they were winners of the Dennehy Cup, South Munster Junior Two League and South Munster Junior Two Cup.
Shannon: N Whelan; E Oâ00Gorman, P Oâ00Dea, W Daly, S O'Brien; T Hall (capt), S Ryan; N Murray, P Ryan, K Flynn, F Oâ00Dalague, A Kennedy, JP Tucker, P Quinn, M O'Brien.
Replacements used: M Adams, J Cronin.
Cork Constitution: B Derham; R Oâ00Sullivan, M Keyes, R Johnson, A Dinan; R McCarthy, S Costigan; M Oâ00Leary, P Crowley, S Barry, B Melbourne, D Ludgate, C Murphy, B Murphy, B Ring (capt).
Replacements used: B Carroll, E Busteed, L Leahy, T Buckley, J Noonan.
DOLPHIN BUOYED BY O'LEARY CALL-UP: Tomas O'Leary's call-up this week to the Ireland squad for the summer tour to Argentina ended a long wait for Dolphin RFC.
O'Leary, who has been used this season as both a scrum half and winger by Munster, is the first Dolphin clubman to make a senior international tour since hooker Terry Kingston was included for the trip to Australia in 1994.
O'Leary is one of seven uncapped players in the Irish touring party and will be hoping to make his Test debut against the Argentinians on either May 26 or June 2. It is the 23-year-old's first inclusion in an Irish senior squad, having been capped previously at 'A' level.
He is not the first Dolphin scrum half to travel to Argentina with Ireland - John Oâ00Meara did so in 1952 alongside fellow Dolphin clubmen PJ Lawler, JS McCarthy and Mick Lane. Phil Oâ00Callaghan made the trip nearly 20 years later in 1970.
CLONMEL U-14S SECURE EAST MUNSTER PLATE: The season came to a close for the formidable Clonmel Under-14s in Carrick-On-Suir last Sunday. Eight months of training and matches brought the Tipperary youngsters into the business end of the season and gained them a place in the East Munster Plate final against Waterpark.
These teams met in the league last November and after a great game of rugby, it ended in an 8-8 draw. Clonmel have noticeably improved since then and Sunday's performance was the culmination of a lot of hard work.
Clonmel shot out of the traps and led 7-0 early on thanks to a well-taken try from Thomas Donnelly, which Ross Mullane converted. Jack Doyle followed suit with a try in the corner, before Donnelly sent his side into half-time with a 19-0 buffer as he crossed for his second try, converted this time by David Johnston.
With Waterpark's try-scoring chances limited, it was left to Clonmel to pull further ahead as Tony Cantwell went over under the posts for a converted try. Donnelly got over for his third score to crown a memorable afternoon for the Cantwell-captained victors. Well done to all involved, particularly Clonmel coaches Donal Guilfoyle, PJ Mulcahy and John McCarthy, and commiserations to Waterpark, who will no doubt bounce back next season.