Naas RFC President Michael Higgins (on the left) presenting a plaque to Joe Carbery, captain of the 1969 Towns Plate winning team
After a weekend in which Ireland opened their 2019 Rugby World Cup with an impressive 27-3 win over Scotland in Yokohama, I’m going to commence this season’s weekly column by mentioning the recent 50th anniversary Provincial Towns Plate celebrations that featured the grandfather of a Kildare player who is in Japan and should be playing for his country over the coming weeks
Joey Carbery from Athy is expected to recover from an ankle injury picked up early last month in a World Cup warm up fixture against Italy at the Aviva Stadium in time to play in some of the remaining pool games over the coming weeks in Japan.
Just around the same time as young Joey was departing for rugby’s biggest quadrennial gathering his grandfather, also named Joe, was on his way over from New Zealand to attend a dinner in honour of the Naas Rugby Club’s Towns Plate winning side of 1969.
Indeed, the elder Carbery was captain of that 1969 team that beat Skerries 9-8 in a replayed decider, a high point of his 3-year tenure as skipper when the club won 57 out of 88 games having gone through a particularly barren period in that decade that included not winning any Towns Cup game since 1961.
Incidentally, the family is steeped in the game as Joe’s son (and Joey’s dad), who is also named Joe, is currently working for Leinster Rugby as a development officer having returned to his native Athy more than ten years ago after emigrating to New Zealand as a teenager.
Encouragingly Joey was heavily involved with the Ireland match day squad in the warm up ahead of Sunday’s victory and the indications are that he will be playing sooner rather than later and will add his name to the growing list of Kildare players to have played on rugby’s biggest stage.
The latest to join that club was Eadestown’s Tadhg Beirne who came off the bench in the second half as the rain buffeted down in Yokohama and with some changes expected, in part due to the 6-day turnaround for Saturday’s encounter with the hosts Japan in Shizuoka you can expect the two Kildare players to be in the running for selection.
As a result of the win Ireland are now in pole position to top Pool “A” which would mean a likely quarter final on Sunday October 10 in Tokyo against the Springboks following South Africa’s 23-13 defeat to the All Blacks on Saturday.
That was a high quality contest that has set the standard that will likely be required to lift the William Webb Ellis trophy on Saturday November 2 in Yokohama.
Local teams got their Leinster League campaigns underway at the weekend with victories for North Kildare and Clane while Naas and MU Barnhall will have to wait until Saturday week for the Energia League (AIL) to get underway.
On Sunday Cill Dara struggled early on away at Kirwan Park against De La Salle Palmerston on their return to Division 1B following last season’s promotion but recovered to pick up a losing bonus point as they eventually went down 15-13.
North Kildare were relegated from Division 1B last season and won a tough opening day Division 2A clash 18-15 at home in the Maws, Kilcock against Balbriggan, Newbridge were beaten 25-18 at home in Rosetown against Coolmine but did manage to secure a losing bonus point while Edenderry were well beaten 49-12 in Wexford.
In Division 2B Athy also snared a losing bonus point after losing 10-8 away to Railway Union in a game changed at the last minute to Clontarf FC on Saturday night while in Division 3 Clane enjoyed an opening day 21-10 win on Sunday at home in Ballinagappa Road against Swords.
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