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Swords Rugby Football Club

 

Swords Rugby Football Club was formed in July 2005. The club began life as Aer Lingus RFC and then became ALSAA RFC before changing to its current title. The move was made for a number of factors.

Firstly, the club no longer represented the airline or sports ground, though they still played there. Secondly, with the formation of the Swords Colts Youth teams, it was important that a link between the underage and senior players was made. Finally, and probably most crucial, was the town of Swords itself. Having grown both in size and population in the last decade, it was important that the club associate itself with the town. Already a number of schools in the area have formed affiliations with the club through the youth programme and the vast number of potential players in the area has already been tapped. So now Swords, capital of the county of Fingal and already boasting a proud soccer and GAA heritage, has its own rugby club.

The original Aer Lingus Rugby Club was formed in 1948 and played friendly matches only. Falling attendance’s forced the gradual disbanding of the club until its revival in the 1960s.

Old Aer Lingus/ALSAA crest

The first meeting of the present club took place on 23 October 1962. At the AGM of 1965 the club took the decision to affiliate to the Leinster Branch of the IRFU – Junior Section and entered the Leinster Junior League for the first time. Playing at Junior 3A level the club had some mixed fortunes in the early years. The club contested many league semi-finals – the first in 1973/4 was a loss to De La Salle 7-6 in a very close encounter. In 1978/79 the club qualified for three finals only to lose all three. The 3A League and cup were lost to St. Mary’s while the Spencer Cup final was lost to Junior 1 club, De La Salle.

After competing in numerous 3A league semi-finals the big breakthrough came in 1993 when the club beat St. Mary’s in the 3A league semi-final. In a thrilling final Aer Lingus RFC defeated Terenure becoming the first Junior Club in history to win the Leinster Junior 3A league.

In 1995/6 the Club entered the Leinster League (division 4) feeder system for the AIL for the first time. The first season in the new league system was a success, and saw the club promoted to division 3 – after a play-off with New Ross. The first season in division 3 was one of consolidation – finishing mid-table and the only club to beat division winners, Malahide in a thrilling match away from home. The second season in division 3 would have ended in promotion, but for the unfortunate reversal of the result against Wexford. In this season the club also had a good cup run – unlucky to lose out to eventual winners, Old Wesley in the semi-final of the Moran Cup.

Under the captaincy of Rossi Carroll, our third season (1998/9) in division 3 saw the club victorious – unbeaten and outright winners of division 3.
1998/99 also saw the club go one step further in cup competition and compete in the final of the Moran Cup for only the second time. It wasn’t our day and Guinness prevented us making a a clean sweep in league and cup competition.

1999/2000 proved another successful season and at the turn of the century the club needed two victories to secure promotion to Division 1 of the Leinster League. In the last match of the campaign the club needed to beat Malahide by more than 55 points, a tall order against our old neighbours. In an exhibition of running rugby Aer Lingus beat Malahide by an amazing 65-0 to finish second in the league and gain promotion to division 1 for the
2000/1 season. Our cup mis-fortune continued that season though, being narrowly beaten in the O'Connell Cup final by Lansdowne. After a most entertaining game played in perfect conditions, the final score was 18 - 16.

2000/2001 saw Aer Lingus play for the first time in the Leinster League Division 1. This was the highest level the club has ever attained. After a gruelling season's campaign against some very competent opposition Aer Lingus were finally relegated back to Division 2 on points difference. The club needed a win or a draw on the last match of the season against the Gardai to stay up but unfortunatly lost by a narrow margin. The cup run this season came from an unusual source, the 2nd XV. The 2nds made it all the way to the Winters Cup final and lost narrowly to Old Belvedere in a close encounter in Donneybrook, the final score being 19-22.

2001/2002 saw the change in club name to ALSAA RFC, in a move to make the club more open to new players the club has changed the name it competes under from Aer Lingus RFC to ALSAA RFC. In our first season under the new name and back down in Division 2 we got off to a bad start. With Mike Finnegan as captain and Seamus Twoomey in sole charge as Coach we struggled to get going losing matches 3 matches early on in the season and drawing one. That was enough to lift people and we started to collect a number of impressive wins over teams in the top half of the draw. In the end we finished in the top half of the table and despite an unimpressive cup run for both teams the season wasn't as bad as it might seem as we performed well despite the loss of a number of influential players.

The club continued to compete in Division 2, but a fall in numbers saw them relegated to Division 3 in 2003/04. However, ALSAA made up for a disappointing league campaign with a fine cup run where they reached the final of the O’Connell Cup. Further disappointment followed and Noel Hayden’s side went down 15-5 to Blackrock.

Swords RFC crest

Life in Division 3 was nearly short lived as ALSAA missed out on promotion by the narrowest of margins. An excellent league campaign saw captain Mal Bradley’s side win but one of their league fixtures, including the only defeat of division winners Newbridge. In their final league game of the season, there were a number of permuatations and any combination of results meant either ALSAA, Railway Union or Athy would be promoted. As it was ALSAA did all that was asked, defeating Longford heavily. Had they won by a single point more, they would have taken second place and promotion. In the end they finished exactly level with Railway and a play-off was ordered, but once more ALSAA’s luck deserted them and they went down 13-5.

A promising season finished badly though the future looked bright as the club took the historic change of name and development of a youth structure that can only mean bigger and better things for Swords Rugby Football Club.


 
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