Arun Mooney: ‘Never count the Rhino’s out’

The West Dublin Rhinos travel across Dublin to face divisional rivals UCD this Sunday at the UCD Sports Grounds. The Rhino’s are currently 0-2 and sitting bottom of the SBC South and the SBC Generally for the season after succumbing to defeats against both the North Kildare Reapers and SBC South leaders, the UL Vikings.

It’s not the start the Rhino’s would have been hoping for as they looked set to make positive strides after clinching a wildcard berth last season. So far, they are yet to replicate their end of season performances from 2014, that saw them win 3 of their last 4 games.

UCD will be tough opponents and the West Dublin outfit will need to improve greatly from their previous outings if they look to clinch their first win of the year. In order to find out how the team was preparing for Sunday, we sat down with Quarterback, Arun Mooney to discuss the teams goals for the weekends match-up.

The Rhino’s have been blessed with a strong squad this year, boasting on average of 30+ players. They certainly have the numbers to cause teams problems and Arun says that this is the strongest he has seen the Rhino’s for a long time.

‘I definitely feel that this is the strongest team the Rhinos have fielded, because every year I believe we are improving in terms of the number of players we have and the experience gained by the veteran players on the team. It also helps to have a great coaching staff keeping us, the players, on our toes week in week out.’

The Castleknock squad is defined by their toughness and positive attitude. Many competitors know they are in for a tough game against the Rhino’s, particularly when they come face-to-face with their hard hitting defence. However, their struggles on offence is apparent as they have failed to click in the early stages of the season.

Arun realised the offence has work to do, but they certainly have the potential to improve.

563219_10201224526437919_1796208446_n‘I have to give props to the defensive side of the ball, they hit hard and never give up. In terms of the offensive side of the ball, we’ve been working on knowing the playbook fully and being ready to go when our number is called. We have been pushing ourselves in training every Sunday and working with our coaches to optimise our efforts and turn this into points. There is no magic formula to get better other than train hard and know your job.’

Travelling across town to UCD, albeit a short trip, will be a difficult away fixture for the Rhino’s. UCD were formidable at home during their IAFL-1 reign and that form has continued over to the SBC, as they picked up a close victory against the Dublin Rebels. The Rhino’s know they will have their work cut out in stopping the speed and skill of the students spread-option offence.

What is guaranteed however is a dedicated performance from the Rhinos; but in terms of a gameplan? Arun say’s that must remain a secret until Sunday.

‘UCD will be very tough opponents on Sunday, but I am really looking forward to this game as we have another chance at showing everyone what we can do as a team. As I’ve already mentioned the team has been working hard at improving their game and to bring home the win. The game plan is top secret I’m afraid and we look forward to the challenge on Sunday.’

2015 has proven challenging thus far for the West Siders. They are 0-2 and considering the difficulty of opponents they are yet to face, it will be a big ask for the team to stay within the playoff hunt, or even the division come the end of the season. However if any team is capable of defying the odd’s, like they showed last season, its the boys from Castleknock.

‘It will be a tough road ahead for our season and last year was amazing to comeback after a 0-4 start . Things started going our way and our team really stepped up and delivered. We expect to improve on this feat this season.’

‘The 2015 campaign has not gone to plan given our 0-2 record, but I do fully believe that we can turn this around as we have done in the past. This team always gives it their best and plays until the whistle. Its a tough road ahead given the talent in this league but never count the Rhinos out.’

10320412_10204121325896095_1717971042385701356_nArun was very honest in his assessment of the teams performances so far and admits that the offence has been playing below par. However, he knows what needs to be improved and has challenged himself to make the necessary adjustments that will grant the team victories sooner rather than later.

Despite the added pressure he puts on himself, the Quarterback is confident the team will start to see major changes that their hard work and effort deserves.

‘The expectations I’ve set myself for this season first of all, is to put the team in the best position to win games. Unfortunately I have yet to meet this expectation as we haven’t put close to enough points on the board to do so. Secondly, is to become a better player by being more consistent and improving the game management aspect of the game.’

You can see Arun in action this weekend at UCD Sports Grounds, 2pm for UCD vs the Rhinos.

Published by Scott Morrow

Scott is an aspiring sports writer and has previous publications with Double Coverage, Touchdown Europe and American Football International. He has played football for both the Belfast Trojans and Dundee Hurricanes and currently lives in Scotland. He is also a fan of the Green Bay Packers!