Hat-trick of promotions for Navan RFC
Navan RFC completed an unprecedented hat-trick of promotions this afternoon at Balreask Old when they defeated Queens 34-19 in the promotion play-off final.
For Navan this represents a huge achievement for a club that just over a decade ago was playing junior rugby.
When the AIL was restructured in 2016 into five 10-team divisions Navan was graded in the lowest tier, Div 2C.
Navan adapted quickly and stormed to the AIL Div 2C title with a championship-winning display on the last day of the season that secured the title against Sligo at Balreask Old.
Twelve months ago they made it into the promotion play-offs from 2B and went to Magherafelt and defeated Rainey Old Boys to make it into Div 2A for this season.
Both those successes were achieved under coach Alan Kingsley who departed to take up a position with Newport Gwent Dragons and he was replaced by Ray Moloney who again found the winning formula through the play-offs with a place in Div 1B for 2019 . 2020 secured today in front of a big crowd at Balreask Old.
Earlier this season it had been suggested by the Meath Chronicle that Navan were playing Yo-Yo rugby, something that was refuted by Riaan Van Der Vyver at the time and the South Arfrican made that point again this afternoon in the post-match banter with the local media.
Riaan Van Der Vyver and Conor Ryan
"I couldn't let one go with making a comment, we've had a great season and now the target will be to make it four promotions next season by gwetting in Div 1A, the top grade," he told the Meath Chronicle.
Today, Navan had a full-strength team and made a good start against a Queens side that included six Ulster academy players.
James McInerney went over for an early unconverted try before Willie Staunton added a second, converted by Brian Haugh.
Queens hit back with a David Whitten converted try soon after.
At the other end Haugh slotted a penalty between the posts and Leigh Jackson then scored a late try which Haugh converted for a 22-7 interval lead for Navan.
Navan defending was disciplined and effective during the opening half (see video clip).
Queens started the second-half at a blistering pace with Whitten going over for a converted try scarcely a minute after the resumption.
However, Navan had to find a response and they did just that when McInerney replied for the Balreask Old side with an unconverted try to settle the hosts (see video)
Navan were determined to sustain the momentum and kept a tight rein on the opposition.
Then with about five minutes remaining sustained Navan pressure was rewarded with a penalty try (see video).
That was sufficient to seal the victory although Queens managed a late try that wasn't converted.
There was great celebrations at the final whistle and Jimmy Geoghegan's brief report captured the atmosphere.
The celebrations continued on the pitch (see below clip) and attention also turned to the Leinster u-18 final that Navan RFC was involved in Carlow, but it wasn't a good day as Naas won that Cup final by 42-10.
See Tuesday evening's Meath Chronicle for all the detailed info - match report and reaction and lots of photographs.