Lansdowne back to winning ways with new head coach

Head Coach Mark McHugh, during Terenure game
Photograph: Mick O’Brien.

By Kathrin Kobus

Things are picking up again for Lansdowne FC. After a string of losses last October and November in the AIL since the Clontarf away game on the 29th November, the trend is upwards again. For that game Mark McHugh was named the Interims Head coach.

“We are a team in transition, some guys from the title in 2017 are still around, but we had new players coming in and they have to find their way. And I believe that adversity reveals character.” 

Lansdowne returned from ‘Tarf with a 4 point win, and Mark McHugh got the phone call to become head coach on a permanent basis in early December since Mike Ruddock extended his stay in Wales with Ospreys. McHugh’s experience with the first XV goes back a few years.

“I’ve been here about six years now and what I’ll look out for in every game, of course, is that we come out on the right side.“ Translate that to winning the game, even if the last few minutes get a bit hairy, as happened in the semi-final of the Bateman cup recently.

“Armagh is an AIL B team, so they had nothing to lose and played like that. But we showed composure and stood at the posts, kept the ball.” The win secured another final with Cork Con in April. It will come a few weeks after their encounter in the AIL at Lansdowne home pitch.   

Wins are coming again, even if hard fought and with tight results in the league like the one-point winning margins in the two game encounters with UCC and most recently Terenure. He was certainly aware of the challenge.  

“Coach is there as confidence builder, what rugby is all about is making good decisions under pressure. It’s a tough trip to Lakeland, and of course they will have analysed their game here but I am confident we’ll come out on the right side. Even if we need a bit of luck.”

They surely did need and got that little bit of luck with the last play of the game, securing a try and conversion which made it another one-point winning margin 16:17. The pressure is on to secure the playoff spot in the AIL. 

Clontarf will be visiting the back pitch Aviva for Friday night on Valentine’s day, but they needn’t expect any gifts.  

The current run of wins makes a playoff place reachable and is the minimum season aim, with a trophy game to look forward to on April 11th against regular rivals Cork Constitution. (Cork Con)

Of course a trip to Cork Con is also in the AIL upcoming fixtures in March.