The going gets Bruff for Clancy
Lansdowne v Bruff, Anglesea Road, Saturday 2.0
It is all falling into place for Lansdowne Rugby Club. They are on their way back to the Aviva Stadium and Division IB of the All-Ireland League.
"It has been a difficult few years for the club without a clubhouse, without a focal point for the members," said head coach Willie Clancy.
"With the executive that is in place, with the players we have, we're in a very strong position going back to Lansdowne Road."
Lansdowne blitzed this Division over the course of the regular season, winning 14 of 15. A siege mentality hasn't hindered their progress.
"There is a perception out there that we have a load of contracted players. Almost none of them had contracts when they joined Lansdowne," insisted Clancy.
"John Lyne came back from Connacht. He had previously been here since school. Ross McCarron and Brian O'Riordan played mini rugby the whole way up.
"I was looking at the statistics. On average, of the 20 players involved in each game, 80-85 per cent have been Lansdowne players from the minis of the U20s structure."
The club decided to keep it native with four Lansdowne men as the coaching cornerstones. Stephen O'Connor and Aidan McCullen handle the forwards, while head coach Clancy and Ireland's Gordon D'Arcy direct the backs.
"The first priority was to bed in the new coaching staff and bring up some of the younger guys.
"We have had five or six of the Ireland U20's team for the last two or three years, lads like Matt Healy, Eoin Sheriff, Shane Gahan, Dave Kearney, Jack O'Connell".
Now, Lansdowne stand on the brink of putting the label champions beside the value of promotion. It is good to be back for the big day.
"A final is a final and a national final is even better. They don't come around too often," said Clancy.
Great Limerick fighters Bruff, the club of John Hayes, stand between Lansdowne and the trophy.
"They've had a fantastic season. They have only been beaten once since October, the same as ourselves. They are a great club".
It is going to be a battle, one that Lansdowne should win.