The U17s took part in three competitions this year, Leinster Schools/Youth League, Leinster Schools/Youth Cup and the North Midlands Area League and despite not winning any silverware they had a great year by competing in the final of the Leinster Schools/Youth Cup and the Area League and reaching the semi-final of the Premier Division of the League.
North Midlands Area League
This as usual was the first competition of the year starting back in September. Similar to previous years only 3 teams chose to participate and as per form Cill Dara travelled to Naas for the first game and beat a Naas team for the first time in many years. Two weeks later they took on North Kildare, last years Leinster Cup and North Midlands League winners. Cill Dara kept the visitors scoreless as they ran in 3 tries to top the table. With Naas losing to North Kildare a week later it set up a final against North Kildare that was fixed for January. A very close game on a muddy pitch in Portlaoise was won by North Kildare with Cill Dara failing to play with any real fluency and the guys will know they left this title behind.
Leinster Schools/Youth League
The league was played in two phases. Cill Dara had a 100% record in phase 1 beating Naas, Seapoint and Newbridge. Ratoath conceded a walkover meaning they qualified for the Premier Division of Phase 2 of the league. Their opposition in the Premier Division was Clontarf, Coolmine, DLSP, St. Marys, Lansdowne as well as Seapoint and Newbridge again. Phase 2 started poorly with narrow losses against Clontarf and Coolmine before Christmas. After Christmas they got their league campaign back on track winning their remaining five games to finish behind Clontarf in the league on level points with Coolmine. Because Coolmine had won the head-to-head earlier in the season it earned them the right to home advantage for the semi-final. Cill Dara had a 16 point lead with 10 minutes to go in a game they dominated but somehow Coolmine managed to conjure up 3 tries to win the game by 3 points.
Leinster Schools/Youth Cup
Cill Dara were due to kick off their Cup run with a home game against Division 1 side North Meath but the opposition conceded the game and that handed Cill Dara a quarter final clash with fellow Premier league team Lansdowne. Played on the back pitch at the Aviva, Cill Dara eventually overcame a dogged home side, having built a 11-0 lead only to succumb to 3 tries from the home side to trail 21-11 before winning it in the last 10 minutes by 16 points. The semi-final was against Division 1 leaders MU Barnhall who had surprised Coolmine in the quarter final. The semi-final was played in Naas in near perfect conditions and Cill Dara ran out comfortable winners in the end and in the process set up a final against Seapoint, who had defeated Clontarf in the other semi-final. The final was played in Malahide and the guys lost out by 5 points in a titanic battle. Having gone behind by 12 points early on in the game they clawed to way back into the game and went ahead by 2 points with 15 minutes left. They could not maintain the lead however and Seapoint ran in a try to win the game.
The year finished off with a sevens blitz with the 18s at the end of April.
The club awards were presented in May, with the top award “Players Player of the Year” (voted for by all the players) going to Ross Dooley, with special merit awards to Darragh Whelan for “dedication to the cause” and Jake Conway for “most improved player”.
We had a few long term injuries during the season notably: Darragh Whelan for the second season in a row missed a large part of the season, this time with a broken knuckle and Sam Downey who damaged his left foot. Compared to other years this was a quiet year on the injury front due in no small part to the increased fitness levels as a result of the Strength and Conditioning training run by Mark Scanlon.
The coaching staff would like to thank Ger Dooley of Kildare Bathroom Centre for his very generous sponsorship of the lads training and match day gear.
Many thanks also to all the parents and friends who travelled the province in support of the team. Huge thanks also to everyone who helped out with the hospitality for our visiting teams by providing food and/or helping out in the kitchen. The hospitality may not always be reciprocated on our travels but visiting supporters are always appreciative of the efforts we make.
Next season it is a big step up to 18s for the lads where they will be joined by no fewer than 10 of this year’s 18s, so it is sure to be a big and very strong panel.
Season Record: P 23, W 16, L 5, D 0, W/O 2
The winners of the competitions the Cill Dara lads participated in are as follows:
Leinster U.17 Schools/Youth Premier Div - Winners: Clontarf, Runners-up: Coolmine
Leinster U.17 Schools/Youth Division 1 - Winners: MU Barnhall, Runners-up: Naas
Leinster U.17 Schools/Youth Cup - Winners: Seapoint, Runners-up: Cill Dara
Leinster U.17 Schools/Youth Plate - Winners: St. Mary’s, Runners-up Suttonians
North Midlands Area League - Winners: North Kildare, Runners-up: Cill Dara
Updated 11:44 - 16 May 2017 by Padraig Murtagh