DOUGLAS RFC are coming home. They’ve returned to their original base in Castletreasure and have ambitious plans to set up the club for the long haul.
Rugby in the area dates back to 1903 with a team made up mostly of workers in the old woollen mills in the village.
It lasted until the early 1970s but was revived in ’79 under the direction of the late Joe O’Reilly and Seamus Corkery, uncle of former international David.
President Christy O’Donovan takes up the story. “We started off in Scart in Castletreasure before moving to Moneygourney, where we leased land for 20 years.
“In 2018 we moved back to Castletreasure again, where we got 12 and a half acres of land from the council at a nominal rent of €200 a year.
“Since then we’ve spent €210,000 on developing the land previously owned by local farmer Tim Ryder.
“It was a very hilly site, though it was level enough at one end and that’s where we trained. We bulldozed at the start of last summer and were training on it by last October.
“We didn’t play any home matches last season, either playing away or in the pitches in Mahon. We’re awaiting fixtures to mark our first game back,” he said.
Douglas play in Division 3 in the Munster Junior League and field under-age teams in all categories, starting with the U8s up to 18-and-a-half.
There’s a coaching team of four, headed up by Jack Costigan and including Tadhg Fanning, the strength@conditioning coach, Martin Pinfield and Stuart Philpott.
“We are looking at a panel of 30-40 players with the hope of forming a second team to play friendlies initially,” said Costigan. There’s a big recruitment drive at the moment and that’s very encouraging because we’ve picked up a lot of players already. There are some former schools players who opted out of the game but now want to return to a level that suits.
“And we’ve done all our due diligence regarding Covid-19, so we’re ready.”
All the work is done to a high spec. There are two new training areas. The car park has been levelled and the existing pre-fab building has been moved from Moneygourney.
“We did some improvements to include showers in the dressing rooms, a medical room, a referee’s room and a meeting room. We’re match ready, just waiting to kick-off,” O’Driscoll added.
Douglas received €42,000 in a sports capital grant last year and a couple of months started work on developing a second pitch, which will become the main pitch eventually.
“We hope to be on it by the end of the year and playing matches before the end of the season.
“The plans include provision for floodlights on the main pitch, costing around €250,000 to take in all the lighting for the street and car-park.
“Our aim is to be able to play matches on a Friday night which is the way forward because people don’t have time at the weekends.”
The president paid tribute to the club’s sponsors and to the high level of co-operation from residents in Green Valley and Bramble Hill estates.
The club has a ready-made catchment area to attract youngsters, last season adding 25 new players.
And Douglas also had their first international in Iheci Oji, a centre who played for Ireland Club U18 and is coming under the Munster radar.
“We’re competitive, winning Munster titles in the last three seasons. We’re able to attract a lot of players who went away and are now back.
“We lost a lot of players to Dublin around the crash of 2008, but they’re working their way back to Cork and they were fine players in their time.
“They now have kids of their own and they’re getting involved which is great. The plan is to encourage the adult players to pass on their experience to the kids on Saturday mornings,” O’Driscoll added.
Head coach Costigan is thrilled with the response. “There’s a great buzz around the club which I’ve never seen before.
“I believe it’s the start of something special for Douglas rugby club.
“We’re back home. We’ll have two top-class pitches and the next phase will include a clubhouse, a gym looking down on the main pitch,” he concluded.