Weston are gearing up for their first ever home Leinster men’s division one hockey fixture next week as they play host to Fingal, 63 years since they first formed at the Tara Co-op near the airport which bears the club’s name.
It is an incredible turnaround in fortunes as club chairman Emmett Hutchin explains the club was seriously struggling a couple of years ago, potentially dropping to just two adult men’s teams.
But a concerted club effort to rebuild the club has paid dividends with the arrival of Alan Browne a key factor. A legend on the Leinster club scene, the former Glenanne man captained Leinster to interprovincial success while winning All-Ireland club championships and the Irish Senior Cup with his old club.
Speaking about the fixture against Fingal, Hutchin said: “It’s an extremely significant occasion. We have been trying for years to get up to division one but the closest we came was third in division about ten years ago.
“But we were looking at going down a team a couple of years ago so we made the decision to invest in serious coaching, a well-known name and it had helped galvanise the club with ex-players coming back.”
Browne proved a serious motivating force, encouraging the likes of Enda Tucker and Davitt Meenaghan back to the club over the past two years while helping to develop young charges such as Phil Baron and Simon Pearson.
Moving up to division one is the icing on top of a series of recent developments for the club with international standard floodlights installed back in 2004, beginning the refurbishment of the club’s facilities in Griffeen after the men’s firsts had endured a number of years of nomadic existence.
Combined with the opening of a new clubhouse at the venue – shared with Hillcrest United and Lucan Harriers – the final piece of the puzzle arrived in 2007 when the club replaced its shale pitch with an Astroturf.
It allowed the firsts to return to Lucan to play their fixtures on ‘home’ soil after a couple of years at nearby King’s Hospital.
During the formative years of the club, Weston originally was a combined club, providing tennis up until the mid 1960s, played in front of the club’s pavilion which was completed in February 1951.
Throughout the 50s and 60s, the club achieved a reasonable amount of success in the intermediate leagues, winning back to back inter cups over the Air Corps and Lorraine hockey club in ’57 and ’58 while regularly reaching the last four of the Leinster section of the Irish Junior Cup.
Progression into the middle leagues ensued but the 1970s proved a leaner time with one of the few highlights being Willy Heffernan’s appearance in the Leinster junior Interprovincial side that played against Ulster in April 1973. Future member Niall Van Lonkhuyzen also appeared for Connacht two years later before the club began a period of nomadic existence.
A Leinster Junior Cup win began the 80s in style but a move to the all-weather pitch in Coolmine in Dublin 15 occurred in 1981 saw both men’s and women’s sides relegated from their respective divisions.
Weston lasted 12 seasons at Coolmine before moving down the Navan Road to the Dominican Convent where they took their place in the restructure of the leagues that saw three leagues devoted solely to first eleven teams.
Finishing second in 1993/94, the club also made their Irish Senior Cup debut away to Portadown. The following season saw another move, relocating to King’s Hospital in Palmerstown.
The current club’s home was secured in the late 90s though senior matches remained at KH on their Astroturf.
The stability heralded one of the most successful periods of the clubs history as Shane O’Hare captained the men’s first to the Neville Davin Cup while the ladies ended a 50-year wait for a trophy when Helen Dennis led the ladies second to the division 9/10 cup, Anne-Marie Jarvis scoring the only goal against Aer Lingus.
In 2005 Weston won their first national title when the ladies defeated Moyne Thurles on penalties in the May Costley cup in a thrilling final in the National Hockey Stadium in Belfield. The team was captained by Margaret Ryan and coached by Shane O’Hare and, now in division four, currently play at the highest level in the club’s history.
2010, though, proved the fruition of a long-held ambition as the men’s firsts out-lasted their rivals to take their place at the top level and getting to host their first ever top tier at their Griffeen Valley Park home, a venue firmly embedded in the fabric of Lucan life.