County Cavan Rugby Football Club
‘A brief history’
(1974 – 2015)
County Cavan RFC was formed following a well attended public meeting held in the Lakeland Hotel (since demolished) in Cavan town in early April 1974. While previously there had been a rugby club in Cavan during the fifty’s and sixty’s the club had ceased to exist by 1963.
The first training session for the new club took place in Saint Patricks College Cavan on Tuesday 16th April 1974 and this attracted in excess of twenty potential players. Shortly afterwards the club moved their training and playing facilities to Tierquin on the edge of Cavan town which was to be their home for the next 18 years. Changing facilities were located in a converted storeroom located to the rear of the Farnham Arms Hotel in Cavan. The facilities consisted of four shower heads and a series of old school benches located around the outer walls. Over the remainder of the summer months the numbers attending training had steadily built up and on September 14th 1974 Co. Cavan RFC played their first ever home game against an Enniskillen XV.
Although affiliated to the Ulster branch of the IRFU the club sought permission to play in the Leinster branch on a temporary basis as many of the potential players worked on a Saturday and would have been unable to commit to Saturday rugby. After long negations and goodwill on all sides this was finally agreed.
The arrangement allowed Co. Cavan RFC enter a first and second XV to play in the North East Division of the Leinster Branch in the season 1974 /1975. It was not long before the club started to make an impression in Leinster and in the following season the club reached the final of the Leinster Towns Seconds Cup held in Drogheda RFC loosing narrowly to Tullow. The second XV also reached the semi-final of the Leinster Anderson cup that year.
The following season the club reached the semi final of the cup and in the next season (1977 /1978) the club was successful in winning the Leinster Seconds Towns Cup by 9pts to 6pts in a tight final against Curragh RFC which was played in Mullingar. This was a wonderful achievement for such a young club and made all the more remarkable by the fact that in order to compete in the competition the club was forced to play all the matches in the campaign away from home and in doing so travelled over 1,000 miles in their quest for glory. The same season saw the first and second teams win their respective divisions of the Leinster North East League making this one of the most successful seasons in the clubs history.
The 1977 /1978 season proved to be the last season that the club competed in Leinster and the following year Co Cavan returned ‘home’ to Ulster and entered the firsts in the Intermediate section and the seconds in the minor section. This season also proved to be a milestone year for the club as we were in a position to buy 7 acres at Swellan from the Irish Land Commission for the sum of £13,000.
Ulster rugby was to continue to prove successful for Cavan RFC and the following five seasons proved to be a ‘golden period’ for Cavan rugby and saw the club reach the semi final stages of the Ulster Intermediate Cup (Foster Cup), playing in three finals at Ravenhill and wining two of them, one against our near neighbours Monaghan and the other against Grosvenor RFC. The First XV also won their respective leagues on three occasions during this period gaining promotion to a higher division each time. The club were fortunate to have some very talented players on their books during this period, some with experience playing rugby at senior level; however the vast number of players came into the club with little or no experience in playing rugby, their success attributed mainly to a combination of firm commitment, good coaching, high level of fitness, good ball skills and an enthusiasm to succeed.
In the 1985 /86 season the club continued to attract new players and were now in a position to enter a third XV in the Minor section and in its first season the team finished in a commendable third place in the league.
In 1985 the club built a new clubhouse on the grounds at Swellan and on Saturday 20th September 1986 the clubhouse was officially opened by Mr W.J. Hewitt, President of the Ulster Branch IRFU.
As funds were now exhausted and the pitches not yet developed all home matches continued to be played at Tierquin.
The 1986/87 season saw Cavan first XV return to winning ways by winning their section of the Intermediate league and in the 1990 /91 season the club reached their ‘holy grail’ by winning Intermediate Section 1 thereby gaining promotion to Junior rugby for the very first time.
Off the field work was ongoing in the development of the main pitch at Swellan thanks to a huge commitment both physically and financially by many of its members. On Saturday September 5th 1992 the new pitch was officially opened by the then Senior Vice President of the Ulster Branch IRFU Mr W.B. Turtle and Cavan RFC said a sad farewell to Tierquin, a ground which saw many great games and successes and also very many happy days and memories for the club.
Ongoing developments off the field saw the club develop a second playing pitch at Swellan and in 2013 the club completed a major redevelopment and extension of the clubhouse which now provides facilities that would rival any rugby club in Ireland or U.K.
Cavan currently field one men’s team and they will be playing in Division 3 of the Ulster Junior League in the 2015/2016 season.
The club now has a vibrant mini and under age section with the under 17’s winning the cup in the 2012/2013 season. These teams are supported by a very enthusiastic band of coaches and parents thereby helping to nurture the game and hopefully provide future senior players in years to come.
In 2011 the club fielded a woman’s rugby side for the first time and this section continues to develop and make progress, winning the Ulster League Women’s Division 1 in the 2013/2014 season and also again in the following season 2014/2015.This season also saw the Ladies XV win the Ulster bowl completion and also the Carrick 7’s with one of its players wining the player of the tournament award, a remarkable and outstanding achievement for this group of players.
During the 2008 /2009 season another chapter of Co Cavan RFC opened up with the formation of a male voice choir, this group is made up of former players and supplemented by singers from the Cavan region. The choir which is the only rugby choir in Ireland has its own musical director and has been invited to perform in Ravenhill in Belfast, The RDS in Dublin and the Sports Ground in Galway on the occasion of major rugby matches; however the pinnacle of the choir’s achievement was being invited to sing the national anthems before the Ireland v Scotland Six Nations rugby international in the Aviva Stadium Lansdowne Road in 2013.