Super showing from Warriors
The backdrop of the Leinster v Northampton European Rugby Champions Cup match in the Aviva Stadium on Saturday provided for a special national debut for the Dunbrody Warriors, the inclusive tag rugby team from New Ross RFC.
Preparations had been in train for this event for a number of months and the day started with the unveiling of their new squad jerseys at the clubhouse, sporting the new Warriors logo designed by Petra Curtis from the Design Nut and sponsored by JCE and Aeolus Tyres.
All suitably togged out, the team and coaches, and a number of alicadoos, crammed onto the bus to begin a day long adventure and what promised to be a memorable occasion.
The first job on arrival in Dublin was to get refuelled courtesy of Pat Walsh and the staff at the Louis Fitzgerald Hotel who went out of their way to ensure that everything went smoothly and nobody was going to be hungry in advance of their game later in the evening.
On to the Aviva, a pre-match briefing from Norman O'Leary and the team at Leinster Rugby, official photos with Leinster players and a warmup at pitchside before settling in for the first half of the Leinster Game and another anticipated big performance from New Ross prodigy, Tadhg Furlong.
With Leinster having secured the four-try bonus point before half-time, the excitement was palpable as the Warriors waited anxiously in the player tunnel to make their debuts.
Finally, Roman Poite signalled that it was time and to great applause, the Ross players took to the hallowed turf of Lansdowne Road before a crowd of almost 40,000 fans.
They went straight into action against the Barnhall Buffaloes and the match ebbed and flowed with both sides showing some attacking flair and a not inconsiderable amount of defensive organisation.
Micheal O'Neill eventually broke the deadlock with a scything run and touched down to become the first Ross player to score in the Aviva on a European Rugby Champions Cup day, thus denying Tadhg Furlong an honour he probably felt he claimed when he scored the opening try of the second half on resumption of the main event.
The Warriors returned to the stand, victorious and delighted with their achievements, to enjoy Leinster's record breaking demolition of Northampton before being congratulated by Tadhg himself when all was complete.
Back to the bus and the trip home, this time punctuated by dining al fresco at the less salubrious surroundings of Burger King at Coynes Cross Services on the M11 before finally arriving back at base at 2am exhausted and exhilarated.
President, Michael Bailey, and club captain, Steve Roche, who were both in the travelling party, expressed themselves delighted with the performance and the experience before thanking coaches Laura Doyle, Nick Murphy and Rory Flynn for the hard work done and dedication shown to developing these players.
Gratitude was also expressed by President Bailey on behalf of the Club to Sports Active Wexford for the huge support and assistance given in making this project such a success and he also indicated a desire to continue working with such organisations for the betterment of the community of New Ross and environs in general.
Dunbrody Warriors squad: Micheal O'Neill, Martin Browne, Christine Byrne, Noel Kehoe, Colin Egan, Thomas Murray, Larry Kehoe, Philip Jordan, Aidan Rossiter, Micheal King, Damien Phelan and Dumitra Kehoe.