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AIB League Finals: Spotlight On Clontarf

AIB League Finals: Spotlight On Clontarf

We take a closer look at AIB League Division One finalists Clontarf, from the history of the north Dublin club through to the current coaches and players involved.

Clontarf Football Club was founded in 1876. Its original ground was on Vernon Avenue, rented for £3 per annum from a Monsieur George, who was a horse buyer for the French Army.

Since its foundation the club colours have been blue and red, probably derived from the colours of the local boat club.

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Between 1876 and 1896 the club transferred grounds several times in the Clontarf area from Vernon Avenue, firstly to a ground beside the boat club, then to the Howth Road and ultimately to Castle Avenue, which has been the homeof Clontarf FC since 1896.

In 190203 Clontarf was admitted to the senior ranks – Leinster League – and in the following year reached the final of the Leinster Senior Cup but were beaten by Lansdowne, one goal (5 points) to one try (3 points).

Since 1896 the grounds at Castle Avenue have been jointly occupied by Clontarf Cricket Club and Football Club. Until 1947 both games were played on the same ground, the wicket was fenced off in the winter.

In 1982, following a disastrous fire which destroyed the bar and lounge, an agreement was reached between both clubs to go their separate ways, each club was provided with separate premises and the use of a common main bar and hall for each club’s season.

Other highlights of Clontarf’s history include the winning of the Leinster Senior (Provincial) Cup in 1936, a feat which was to elude Clontarf teams for another 63 years until the much sought-after cup was returned to Castle Avenue in April 1999.

However, the intervening years were not without success as various teams representing the club won leagues and cups in the 1940s, 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.

But it has been the last two decades that have witnessed some of Clontarf’s proudest moments with the winning of the Leinster Floodlight Competition in 1989, 1990,1997 and 1998, the All-Ireland Floodlight Competition in 1990 and the All-Ireland League Division Two in 1996/97.

Since attaining Division One status in 1997, Clontarf has maintained its position as one of the top twelve clubs in Ireland.

These achievements plus the winning of the Leinster Cup in 1999 have finally laid to rest the jibe that ‘Clontarf’s only cups are those in the kitchen.’

A club with a proud history like Clontarf must look to the future, the Golden Oldies will never again play on the first team but sons and grandsons just might.

Mini and Youth rugby is the future and Clontarf has invested a lot of time and energy in this section. The club has swept the boards of Mini rugby over recent seasons in home and international competitions.

The club has had a close association with the local St. Paul’s and Mount Temple Colleges for many years and in 1995 St. Paul’s became part of rugby history when it toured South Africa with Grosvenor Grammar School from Belfast.

This was a unique occasion, a mix of north and south from Ireland playing mixed race teams from South Africa.

Clontarf is not just about playing rugby, they have an active social committee, golf outings, race nights, corporate lunches and dinners, etc. They have always been regarded as one of the premier social clubs off the field and hard to beat on the field.

Clontarf has been Leinster’s most successful AIB League club over the past nine or ten years.

For the fifth successive season, ‘Tarf’s mighty men have reached the league play-offs. Following a clinical, seven-try destruction of Dungannon – and not conceding a single point for the second week in-a-row – the Castle Avenue residents booked a berth in the semi-final.

Despite scores raining in against the already relegated Terenure in their Lakelands encounter, St Mary’s College could not have anticipated ‘Tarf’s determination to go the distance and not lose out on the well-deserved opportunity to pursue Division One silverware.

Head coach Andy Wood from New Zealand and team captain Daragh O’Shea have done enormous work to produce a team which can go on to capture the title this weekend in ‘Tarf’s third attempt at winning the final.

Some of the star players who ‘Tarf are lucky to have in the side are the Leinster-capped Paul O’Donohoe, Simon Crawford, Ben Reilly, Sean Treacy, a son of Irish athletics great John Treacy, Niall O’Brien, Michael Keating, Adrian Clarke, Aaron Dundon, Niall Treston, Martin Garvey, Martin Dufficy, Breffni O’Donnell, Phil Howard, Max Rantz-McDonald, Johnny Wickham, Peter O’Brien, Niall Carson and last but not least is Heinrich Stride from South Africa.

Stride was so influential in ‘Tarf’s semi-final win over Cork Constitution. scoring two tries in a man-of-the-match display.

He has played Currie Cup rugby in South Africa and says his favourite all-time player is former All Black Zinzan Brooke.