It has been almost three years since the community of Portarlington and the Irish rugby family lost one of our dearest friends and greatest legends, but on Saturday September 7th eight clubs came together in Portarlington RFC to celebrate the legend by competing for The Moss Keane Cup…

The tournament which was organised by Port’s u13s head coach Barry Lambkin, involved teams from the host club, Athy, Newbridge, Landsdowne, Clontarf, Wexford, Birr and Navan playing off in a one day preseason competition for u13s teams as they prepare for the big step up from minis to youths rugby. Sanctioned by the Leinster Branch, the event provided a great opportunity for players and coaches to familiarise themselves with the full pitch game while developing new friendships with clubs from outside of their own areas.

Before the games began the visiting clubs were given a warm welcome by their hosts and the Keane Family who were hugely proud to have the event associated with Moss set the mood of friendly competition for the day with Moss’s wife Anne saying “as a family we are delighted that Moss’s wonderful sporting spirit will live on through this tournament. Barry, Sarah and Anne Marie would like to wish Portarlington and all of the visiting teams the very best of luck.” It was clearly a proud day for the club with members from the minis, youths, women’s and men’s teams helping to run the tournament.

The teams were split into two groups for a round robin section and after a series of closely contested matches it was Athy and Moss’s old club Landsdowne who emerged as group winners and would contest the cup final. Before the final was played Newbridge and Wexford shared the bowl medals as the sides could not be separated in a pulsating final and a Navan side bursting with talent claimed the plate final as they proved just too good for a powerful Birr side.

The cup final, which was refereed by Branch ref John Dunne, saw two expansive sides pitted against each other. Despite the long day of competition both sides showed great resolve as they defied their weary legs to make tackles and line breaks in an open contest. Landsdowne settled best and scored two well taken tries in the first half and led at the break. Athy had the better of the second half’s engagements but Landsdowne defended their own line magnificently on numerous occasions to deny the Kildare men and when referee Dunne blew the final whistle the Dubliners celebrated a well deserved victory.

On presenting the trophy to the winners, Barry Lambkin spoke about how proud he was of their close friends in Athy to have flown the flag so magnicently for the North Midlands area in making the final but he acknowledged how fate had probably ensured that The Moss Keane Cup would spend its first year in Landsdowne. Victorious coach David Colbert then presented to plaque to Portarlington to mark the event and the now famished 250 players and coaches enjoyed a BBQ and some chat with everyone delighted to have warmed up for the new season in such a wonderful atmosphere.

The big man would surely be proud of what he had witnessed that day!