Portarlington RFC was formed in 1974. The first General Meeting took place on the 20th February in the East End Hotel. Sean Costello was the 1st elected president and Robert Gleeson club captain. After attending a Leinster Branch fixtures meeting it was decided that the club would enter the 2nd and 3rd Division of the Provincial Towns Cup and the Fintan Lalor Cup.
The club were very fortunate to have Sean Costello as their Club President as he allotted two pitches at the clubs disposal out in Killenard. His pub The Thatch was to become the spiritual home of the club. After match meals were served to both teams and many a sociable hour or two were passed. Over the years major improvements were made with upgrades of pitches, new showers and dressing rooms added to the grounds.
The club was well and truly up and running and great progress was being made on the playing field. The highlight being the Club winning the 2nds Towns Cup on their very first attempt. This had never been done before or since. The following year they went on to win the Lalor Cup.
Under the captaincy of Rory Cronin in the ‘76/’77 season, the club were now in the 1st Division of the Provincial Towns Cup putting them up against Kilkenny in the 1st round and caused a major shock winning 12-0. However, 2 weeks later Port was beaten well by Athy, 25-3.
Ray Cribben became the 1st player to represent the club on the Leinster Junior XV team at prop forward and the following season Vincent Ennis became the 2nd player at wing forward. It wasn’t until the ‘82/ ’83 season that silverware was won, when for the 2nd time Portarlington RFC won the Lalor Cup. In 1986 the club purchased its own pitch at Lea Rd for £2800 and within weeks were able to play home fixtures due to excellent conditions at the grounds. However The Thatch still remained as the clubhouse and teams still trained at the grounds in Killenard. In 1995 works were completed on the new clubhouse at a total cost of £100000. This provided the club with the finest facilities in the area with the addition of flood lights in 1997.
On the pitch our next big season was in ‘89/ ’90. It began with an invitation to the Birr 7’s which mostly catered for senior sides and strong J1 clubs. Portarlington were in the J2 division. Amazingly the club won the tournament beating the hosts in the final 22-12 and became the first J 2 side to do so and also winning the Loughnane Cup joining illustrious clubs such as; St. Marys , Galweigans and Old Crescent on the roll of honour. The Lalor Cup was won next making it the third in the clubs history. The club was also allowed to play in the Hosie Cup that year which was only reserved for J1 sides and almost shocked the area by just losing out to Portlaoise in the final. The season was finished on a high when the club won the 2nds Towns Cup for the second time beating Cill Dara in the final 21- 11.
The mid ‘90’s- 2000 witnessed the emergence of Portarlington’s youths section. Starting with a U-14 Midland Area League. In 1996 the club won the inaugural U-16 Leinster League, which catered for both Metropolitan and Provincial clubs. Once again history was created when the club won it at their very first attempt and the added distinction of being the first winners of the [trophy?] by beating Drogheda in the final 15-13 in a titanic battle. Six weeks later the team travelled to Galway for the All Ireland semi final where they played the Munster Champions Bruff winning 16-10 and left the club in their first ever All Ireland Final. The final was against Ulster Champions Portadown but it wasn’t to be Portarlingtons day and we lost 6-3. Some weeks later the IRFU stripped Portadown of the title for illegal players but the club was never awarded the title due to too many teams suffering at the expense of Portadown.
The following year Portarlingtons U16’s were again Leinster League Champions beating Carlow in a three game saga, coming out on the right side 6-3 in the third game. The All Ireland series was played in Dublin where we met Dromore of Ulster in the Semis and won 8-6 to make the final for the consecutive year where we faced a very strong Bruff side and lost heavily 19-0.
In ’97 Portarlington RFC won the Leinster U18 League for the first time, beating Suttonians in Donnybrook on St.Patricks Day. The club went on to the All Ireland series but lost to Galway side Corinthians 19-13 in the semi final. All of this underage success left a bright future for the club as so many of their successful underage players would go on to play senior rugby with the club and still do.
The ’99 season backed by these players won the Division 2 League and was promoted to Division 2. They also won the Hosie Cup for the first time making it a great season. Port continued playing in Division 2 until ‘04/’05 season when going unbeaten in the league were promoted as champions to Division 1 for the first time. The club remained in division 1 for a season and were relegated the following season. The only success in the following years came from the 2nds team when they won a Lalor Cup, the 2nds League and the Towns Plate in the ‘06/’07 season.
The last major success for the club was in the 2009/10 season when again Portarlington won the Division 2 League and the provincial Towns Plate going on an unbeaten run of 22 games. Between the end of 2008/09 season and the start of the 2009/10 season leaving the club playing J1 again for the second time in Port RFC’s history. Unfortunately Port was relegated the following season in a play-off with Clondalkin.
At the moment Portarlington RFC now play in Leinster Division 2 League and compete in the Provincial Towns Cup as well as the Hosie and the Lalor Cups. The club also caters for minis, U13 to U21’s, we have a senior ladies and a youth’s ladies team along with three senior men’s teams. Since the beginning of Portarlington RFC we have had Ray Cribben, Vincent Ennis, Pat Cooper, Mark Petriw, Paul Mannion and David Murphy represent the club on the Leinster XV team. We have also had Niall Slattery, Gearóid Horan, Billy Walsh, Patsy Lawlor and Francis Finn represent the club on the Leinster Youth XV. Billy Walsh and Gearóid Horan were also capped on the Irish Youth Team. A great achievement!
Club Roll of Honour:
7- Lalor Cups – ‘75/’76, ‘82/’83, ‘92/’93, ‘93/’94, ‘95/’96, ‘96/’97, ‘06/’07
2- 2nds Provincial Towns Cups- ‘74/’75, ‘89/ ‘90
2- Birr 7’s- ‘89/’90, ‘02/’03
1-Michael Dunne Cup- ‘91/’92
1-Hosie Cup- ‘98/’99
2-Speirs Cup- ‘98/’99,’99/’00
1-Dvision 3 League Winners- ‘98/’99
2-Division 2 League Winners- ‘04/’05, ‘09/’10
1-2nds League Division 2 Winners- ‘07/’08
1-Towns Plate Winners- ‘08/’09
1-U14 North Midland League-‘93/’94 (Not sure about this, Iarlaiths Team won U14 N Midlands in 2008)
2-U16 Leinster Leagues- ‘95/’96, ‘96/’97
3-U18 North Midland Leagues- ??
4-U16 North Midlands Leagues- ‘95/’96, ‘96/’97, ‘97/’98
1-U18 Leinster League- ‘97/’98
1-U16 McCauley Cup- ‘95/’96
2-U16 All Ireland Finalists- ‘95/’96, ‘96/’97