Tommy Butler in Conversation with Philly Dardis on their League   04/11/2020

Pictured below is John Geelan and Philly Dardis with the Leinster 1B Trophy

T Butler Good afternoon Philly, thanks for chatting to me, as way of a bit of context we are going to chat about your Captaincy of the Longford Senior Men’s 2nd XV, who were unbeaten last season and who won Leinster 2nds League Division 1B with room to spare.  How does that sound?

P Dardis Yep, that sound great.

T Butler So to start off maybe we can chat about the factors that helped you and the 2nd XV squad to win the league and go unbeaten.  Certainly, I soldiered in the 2nd XV trenches for many years with little reward and this is the first time we have won such a trophy, however things have been improving since I finally hung up the boots a few seasons ago?

P Dardis There were a number of things behind our run.  Firstly, there were great numbers consistently training every week.  On Fridays we normally had 35+ players and this meant that we could train together consistently and get things right.  It also meant that there was lots of competition for places, which kept all players on their toes and having to fight for their place in both the 1st and 2nd XVs.  We also had a big injection of new players from our U18s over the last few years, which really helped to freshen things up.  It was the blend of newer players along with older more experienced heads that worked really well.  You had the likes of Dean Corrigan, the Geelan brothers and later in the season Steve Coy providing the experience, which meant we had a good pack with a young fast backline.  Finbarr McGowan at scrum half along with Sammy Murphy were also there for nearly all the matches.   We did 15 on 15 contested training matches nearly every Friday, where there was little quarter given by both the 1st or 2nd XV squads, which prepped both sides well for the weekend and also meant players were comfortable slotting into the 1st XV when required.   

T Butler Getting numbers to training was something we battled with for a long time.  I think Longford’s status as a community club, where nearly all the players have come through our underage system, is a big factor in the improving numbers along with the great facilities.  To have a good 1st XV you need a good 2nd XV and then you need lots of players to fill in the gaps and preferably a 3rd XV.  You have played for the club right through underage and have played a lot of Senior rugby, so when did you/squad start to feel that a shot at the league title was on?

P Dardis It was when we went away to Monkstown in our second league match of the season.  They had a big team and meant business.  We stuck the heads down and got the job done.  From that point, confidence was up in the squad and everyone knew that if we put in the effort in training and matches that a shot of the league title was there and also a good run in the cup later on in the season.

T Butler Monkstown away definitely was a great win.  The 1st XV also should have won that day too but knocked on while crossing the Monkstown line in the last play of the match.  What other matches do you remember as the toughest ones?

P Dardis Travelling to Carlow is always tough, so to turn over both Tullow and Carlow away was really big for us.  Those wins along with the Monkstown match set the foundations for the league win.  We won the title with two matches to spare by beating Cill Dara away.  From there we were looking forward to a good run in the cup, as we were drawn to travel to Cill Dara again in the first round.

T Butler But then the everyone’s familiar foe who played sport intervened; Covid 19.  I think the league trophy was due to be presented in our last match of season versus Monkstown, which unfortunately fell victim to Covid.  Was it a big let-down not to be presented with the trophy on front of a big Longford crowd?

P Dardis Yeah it was really disappointing, getting the trophy on front of our home crowd would be one of those things that you really look forward to but we made a good night of it when we eventually got presented with the trophy at the end of the Summer.

T Butler I think everyone in the club would have enjoyed the presentation on the front pitch but it was unfortunately not to be.  At the moment everything is obviously up in the air again with no one sure when we might get out on the pitch again, what was the squads aim for this season and what do you think would be a good outcome now?

P Dardis After winning the league we wanted to go back and do the same again and felt that we could give the cup a good rattle too.  At this stage it would be nice to play some league matches and see if we can finish top.  It might be that the cup takes place and we can then go at that too.

T Butler One thing for sure Philly is that it was fantastic campaign by the 2nd XV, congratulations to you and all the lads.  Hopefully we will get some rugby in this season and players will keep coming through from our great underage set up and maybe ye get a chance to retain the league trophy and have the opportunity to have a good go at the cup.  Thanks for the chat.

P Dardis Cheers.

Barry Stewart and Philly Dardis in action versus DLSP

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