Fionn Carr, Naas RFC
The return of cooler windier weather over the weekend, which saw the first fall of leaves to the ground, is a stark reminder that autumn has arrived and with it the start of the rugby season.
The rugby season, both professional and domestic, has been underway for a few weeks now with a number of Kildare players being prominent in the opening two rounds of the Guinness PRO12, notably Joey Carbery’s impressive debut at out half for Leinster in their home victory against Treviso last Friday week, a performance that was backed up by another exciting showing from the Athy pivot in the away loss to Glasgow at the weekend.
Fergus McFadden and James Tracy have also featured for Leinster while James Connolly had a terrific game for Connacht in their home defeat to Ospreys last Saturday.
On the club scene Naas have prepared for their first season in Division 1B of the Ulster Bank League (AIL), which commences this Saturday, with three impressive wins in the revamped Leinster Senior League.
Last Saturday they scored seven tries in beating Tullamore 47-8 on the road, notching up their third 4-try bonus point victory to go along with earlier wins against Boyne and MU Barnhall as they eased their way into the Division 2 playoffs by comfortably topping Division 2B.
This Saturday Forenaughts will be the venue for Naas’ Division 1B debut when the county Kildare club hosts Galwegians in a battle of two teams that moved in opposite directions last season.
In contrast to the home side’s promotion from Division 2A the Galway city club was relegated from Division 1A.
The biggest challenge facing Naas this season will be competing against professional players who are in the Ulster and Connacht set ups, and who do not get to play with their provinces on PRO12 or Champions Cup weekends.
As there are no Ulster or Connacht clubs in Division 1A these surplus players could be playing for the likes of Galwegians, Buccaneers, Ballymena or Ballynahinch so the addition of Fionn Carr alongside player/coach Johne Murphy should add badly needed experience to the Forenaughts outfit.
Maintaining their hard earned new status in Division 1B at the end of the season would be a major achievement for Naas while the other county Kildare club in the AIL, MU Barnhall, will be hoping to launch a strong promotion challenge on the back of their strong finish in Division 2B last season that saw them impressively escape the at-one-time real threat of relegation.
The Leixlip club is on the road on Saturday as they travel to Dungannon in a league that features four other Leinster clubs.
The Kildare clubs in the North Midlands Area have being using the Hosie Cup as for the Leinster League, which begins for them on Sunday week.
Clondalkin have reached the New Year’s Day final having topped Section “A” while runners up Naas 2nd XV will face Cill Dara in a semi-final after the Kildare town club came out on top of a 4-team blitz at their Silken Thomas Park home on Saturday.