With the benefit of hindsight, Donaghadee’s season ended on 23rd April at Ballyclare. On that fine Saturday the Dee players showed skill, strength, determination and great team spirit that saw them triumph over a good ‘Clare side 36-15 to gain promotion. To celebrate this great achievement for a small country club and then come back so soon to face an excellent and relatively fresh CIYMS team at Deramore for the Qualifying League Two title was simply asking too much too soon. Indeed, five or six of the most regular team members were hors de combat from injuries sustained in the game three days earlier.
CI won the game 32-6 and thoroughly deserved it. It would uncharitable to take anything away from the Belmont side; on the night they were fresher, faster and stronger. Congratulations to them and Donaghadee will be looking for them next season in Section One.
Looking back over the 2010-2011 season it is clear just how important it is to have a large squad of players capable of slotting into a competitive Qualifying League Rugby Football side. This is attested by the number of players who pulled on Donaghadee’s premier jerseys in 2010 and 2011.
A total of 33 players were used during the season’s 25 competitive games – and this year’s attrition rates were definitely helped by the long lay-off in mid-winter. There exists a list of all players used, but suffice it to say that no one played in all the games, some played in most and a number came in when needed, or indeed when able to get away from work or study commitments. The commonest reason for players missing games was of course injury. Mercifully, none were deadly serious or career-threatening. However, the vast majority of players, coaches, spectators and other interested parties seem to agree that the game of rugby football is simply too physically demanding week in, week out, especially in a season from which weather steals a frustrating ten-week break. The break itself, as hinted at above, can have a healing factor, but the inevitable compression of fixtures at the end of the season meant that, like Donaghadee’s Firsts, many teams had to play as many as six or seven games in four weeks.
Donaghadee’s Second XV have had a successful season too, and so are ensuring that pretty-well any of their players are good enough and strong enough for a move upward when required. The Thirds have enjoyed their season too and the entire club is already excited about what the significance is about going into Section One. Everyone knows well that it will be difficult for the First team. The reputations of the clubs already there precede them. Indeed some of the likely Dee players have personal memories from their recent venture into the headier atmosphere.
The first step is electing the right people to office at the Annual General Meeting of the club for what will be a demanding 2011-2012 season. Don’t forget the date - Thursday 12th May (all nominations for Council posts and team captains should now have been submitted).
The club’s Annual Dinner will be on Friday 20th May. This will be the first and only time that the Donaldson Park club will be able to celebrate the 125th year of their existence and simultaneously the promotion of their First XV. As always see Hans Arthur about your place at table.