The AIB Junior Cup kicks off at 1.30pm this Saturday at Dubarry Park in Athlone. In our second feature, we look at the other Leinster side competing for the cup – Navan RFC.
Navan Rugby Football Club was formed in 1924. Its founder members included Willie Sullivan, W.M. Kirk, Nat Lacey, Matt and Charlie Crinion, Jack Finnegan, J. Gibney and Bobby Byrne.
Willie Sullivan was also the president of Meath Agricultural Society at the time, so the county Showgrounds became the home grounds for Navan RFC.
Like most organisations, the club had its good and bad days. The decades following WWII were particularly harsh and in 1962, 37 years after its formation, the club had no grounds or pavilion.
There were two options – to close down the club or to provide new headquarters for the club. Imagination, courage and daring now prevailed. Money was borrowed, a good field was purchased on the Dublin Road and plans began for a clubhouse. The project was completed in 1964.
The 1960s proved to be one of the prosperous eras in the history of Navan RFC.
The titles won included the McGowan Cup in 1961, 1963, 1964, 1966, 1968 and 1969 ,while Provincial Towns Cups were collected in 1963, 1965 and 1967.
The Provincial Towns Plate was won in 1962 and 1966 while the Oval Trophy was annexed in 1967.
The 1970s saw the formation of the club’s Youth Committee. The club reached Towns Cup finals in 1970 and 1971 but the rest of the decade was lean on the playing field for the adult team. The only trophy won in the 1970s was the Housdon trophy at J1 level.
The late 1980s produced some memorable victories for the club. In 1987 the club had success in the Towns Plate, and in 1988, the Towns Cup was won.
The team also contested its first senior cup match, having won through the preliminary rounds for the first time. The Towns Cup was won again in 1990.
The improvement in results can be attributed to two main influences. The players who started playing underage for the club in the 1970s started to come through to adult level. Of the 1990 cup-winning team, 13 of the players had started their playing careers at underage level at Navan.
The second influence was the increased concentration on more scientific coaching, and coaches such as Dick Brady, Leo Finlay and Michael Murray helped to evolve a winning style of play.
Floodlights were erected in the 1980s, initially for training purposes, although there has been an increase in floodlit games played.
Tennis courts were also built but were disposed of to the newly formed Navan Tennis club. The Ardboyne Hotel developed an expanded car park which the club has use of for important matches.
The 1990s began well with victory in the 1990 Provincial Towns Cup final. The title was retained in 1991 with a convincing win over Athy 34-15. Navan ended the decade as they had begun, by winning the 1999 final against Ashbourne on a score-line of 18-10.
Australian John Mulvihill was appointed as player-coach in 1998/99. He came with extensive credentials, captaining Queensland and capped for Australia at Under-21 level. In December 1998 the club also appointed Australian Jim Hartnett as director of rugby.
In 1999 the Committees and Trustees of the club unanimously agreed to the construction of a brand new state-of-the-art clubhouse.
Funding for the project would come from a mix of land sale and fundraising. OnSeptember 5, 1997, the then Minister for the Environment, Noel Dempsey, launched the ambitious project.
At senior level, the club won the Leinster League Division 1 crown in 1999 and the Townss Cup in 2001. They repeated their Leinster League win in 2001 and recaptured the Provincial Towns Cup in 2007, while their second XV recently captured the 2008 2nds League.
Navan RFC Honours
Leinster League Division 1
Provincial Towns Cup
1964, 1966, 1968, 1988, 1990, 1991, 1999, 2000, 2007
Provincial Towns Plate
1963, 1967, 1987
Anderson 3rds Cup
1961, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1968, 1969, 1981, 1988, 1991, 1995, 1996, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005
Harry Gale Under-20 Cup
1980, 1981, 1983, 1985, 1996, 2007
1972, 1980, 1982, 1983, 1992, 1993
1976, 1983, 1986, 1996, 2001
1985, 1986, 1995, 1996, 2001, 2008
Michael Dunne Cup