Rathgar Chiefs hopeful as they face Cookstown

Graham O’Neill feels cup win over reigning Neville Cup champions Railway may kick-start campaign


Johnny Walker’s Tuesday night hat-trick for the Rathgar Chiefs helped provide the first of two significant milestones for the club in quick succession as they saw off Railway Union 6-4 in the Neville Cup.

It was the club’s first ever win senior win and came just four days before they make their debut in the Irish Senior Cup – the world’s oldest club cup competition. Walker’s triple gave the Chiefs a handsome lead before Railway – courtesy of doubles from Jake Morton and Peter English – stormed back into contention but they could never get back on terms. It meant they relinquish the title they have won for the past two seasons. It was a big moment for Rathgar in their fledgling history.

Founded in 2010, the club was put together primarily by former Trinity students, with Cian Denham and Graham O’Neill central to the club’s rapid progress.

Since then, they have risen quickly to Leinster men’s division one and while they are finding life tough there – losing seven from seven league games to date – coach O’Neill is hopeful the cup win over the reigning Neville Cup champions Railway will kick-start their campaign.

They face perennial Ulster Premier League challengers Cookstown in their Senior Cup tie tomorrow at High School but the Co Tyrone club is not the fearsome side of recent years.

A 5-0 home loss to Banbridge last weekend and a fitness doubt over international panelist Mattie Rollins with a facial injury suggests vulnerability.

Elsewhere, Monkstown’s bid to retain the Senior Cup starts with a home date at home against UCC. The students relinquished their Intervarsity title earlier this week, falling 3-2 to Trinity and 7-6 to DIT.

WEEKEND FIXTURES: Men’s Irish Senior Cup first round, Saturday: Glenanne vs Railway Union, 1pm, Glenanne Park; YMCA vs Lisnagarvey, 1.15pm, Milltown; Cork Harlequins vs Banbridge, 1.30pm, Harlequin Park; Monkstown vs UCC, 2pm, Rathdown; Rathgar vs Cookstown, 2.15pm, High School; Annadale vs Kilkeel, 2.30pm, Lough Moss; Raphoe vs Fingal, 2.30pm, Randalstown; UCD vs Instonians, 3pm, Belfield. 
Women’s Irish Senior Cup, first round, Friday: Randalstown vs Ballymoney, 8pm, Randalstown Saturday: Queen’s Uni vs UCC, 1pm, Malone Road; UCD vs Corinthian, 1pm, Belfield; Armagh vs Trinity College, 2.30pm, Ardmore; Pegasus vs Glenanne, 2.30pm, Malone Road; Belfast Harlequins vs Cork Harlequins, 2.30pm, Deramore Park; Ards vs Catholic Institute, 2.45pm, Ards LC; North Kildare vs Railway Union, TBC, The Maws. Byes for: Greenfields; Hermes; Loreto; Lurgan; Old Alex; Pembroke; Ulster Elks & Lisnagarvey.  Women’s Leinster Div 1, Saturday: Loreto vs Pembroke, 3.45pm, Beaufort Sunday: UCD vs Old Alex, 1.30pm, Belfield; Trinity vs Corinthian, 2.30pm, Holy Child Killiney; Hermes vs North Kildare, 3pm, St Andrew’s Tuesday: Glenanne vs Railway Union, 8.30pm, Glenanne Park .  Div 2, Saturday: Genesis vs Muckross, 11.15am, Belfield; Loreto vs Three Rock Ladies, 12.30pm, Beaufort; Hermes vs UCD, 1.30pm, St Andrew’s; Railway Union vs Trinity, 3pm, Park Avenue; Old Alex vs Pembroke, 3.15pm, Milltown. Sunday: Railway Union vs Muckross, 3pm, Park Avenue.