1944-45 SCT Campaign
Senior House Rugby
Joe O'Neill, Tom Delahunt, Paddy Hopkins, Eddie Connellan
THE SEASON opened with very bright prospects and hope ran high amongst us that we would retain the Cup for another year. Our possibilities of success were further enhanced when we obtained, as trainer, Fr. Kehoe, whose keenness and patience we felt assured would never flag, and who would carefully and judiciously mould and train the team. We had eight of last year's winning Cup team back with us again, J. O'Neill, J. Fitzharris, T. Delahunt, D. Dunne, N. Flanagan, P. Hopkins, C. Healy and E. Connellan. From the beginning no difficulty was experienced in obtaining hard-working lively forwards, but the backs were a problem, due to our lack of scoring power. To overcome this difficulty N. Flanagan was brought from the forwards and put into the centre, in which position he proved to be a straight running, hard tackling three-quarter. To fill the vacancy at the base of the scrum was a difficulty, but at length B. Devlin made the grade and under Fr. Kehoe's tutorship became a clever, tricky scrum-half. J. Fitzharris was elected first Captain, T. Delahunt and E. Connellan being able lieutenants.
CASTLEKNOCK 21 BELVEDERE 0
In this, our first match of the season, it was evident that we had the basis to form a lively pack of forwards. They came off the field with colours flying, having gained possession of nearly every ball in the set scrums and the line out, in the latter sphere B: Moylett and E. Connellan being well to the fore. N. Flanagan ran hard and straight, while B. Devlin played a tricky game at the base of the scrum. Scorers were P. Hennessy, N. Flanagan,' B. Moylett and E. Connellan, the last-named adding all the extra points by accurate kicking. For the first game of the season the match was satisfactory, but it was evident that in many phases of the play there was plenty of room for improvement. Team.-J. O'Neill, T. Delahunt, B. Brennan, I. Flanagan, P. Hennessy, L. Ryan, B. Devlin, P. McCabe, D. Dunne, N. McKnight, E. Connellan, B. Moylett, C. Crowley, P. Hopkins, C. Healy.
CASTLEKNOCK 49 ST. MARY'S 0
Being still in the experimental stages, we made a number of changes both in the backs and in the forwards. The backs showed a marked' improvement, while the forwards again played splendidly in all departments, but especially in the loose, as is proved from the fact that two forwards gained the hat trick in tries. Play was at times inclined to be scrappy, but in the second half some patches of brilliant football were seen, the ball being heeled quickly, travelling out along all the backs to the wing, for him to beat all in a race for the line. The score flattered us, as it was not until the second half that we exerted our superiority, when scores were gained very rapidly. K. O'Flaherty, T. Delahunt, N. Flanagan, B. Moylett, E. Connellan, D. Dunne and C. Crowley recorded the scores. Team.-J. O'Neill, T. Delahunt, N. Flanagan, J. Fitzharris, K. O'Flaherty, L. Ryan, B. Devlin, P. McCabe, D. Dunne, J. McCrohan, E. Connellan, B. Moylett, C. Healy, P. Hopkins, C. Crowley.
CASTLEKNOCK 9 BLACKROCK 6
Our team showed great improvement in our match against Blackrock, which excited the usual keen friendly rivalry. 'Rock were unlucky to lose the service of one of their forwards in the first half. The day was not favourable to back play owing to a strong cross breeze, coupled with the fact that the ball became wet and greasy. Our forwards played up well in the loose but in the scrums and lines-out they did not bind tight enough. Excitement rose high as Joe O'Neill, gaining possession during a 'Knock back movement, very cleverly cut through to score near the corner flag. Shortly afterwards E. Connellan kicked a penalty from far out. After the resumption of play Blackrock equalised but P. McCabe scored from a penalty kick, which left us the winners of a hard fought match. Blackrock baulked all the persistent efforts of our forwards to increase the lead, by using the wind to advantage, and gained much ground by long touch kicking. Team.-J. Geraghty, S. Brindley, J. O'Neill, J. Fitzharris, T. Delahunt, L. Ryan, B. Devlin, P. McCabe, D. Dunne, P. Hopkins, E. Connellan, B. Moylett, C. Healy, N. Flanagan, C. Crowley.
BELVEDERE 20 CASTLEKNOCK 0
We suffered our first defeat of the season, at the hands of Belvedere, partly because we were somewhat over-confident, as we had already beaten them, and also because of the exclusion of some of our regular key position men due to injuries. In this game, Conor Crowley was given a trial at scrum half, and except for being a shade on the slow side at getting the ball away from the scrum, played quite well. Neither backs or forwards combined "We' together. The forwards did not bind together after a line-out or in the loose. We got po session of the ball in the line-out, but we seemed to gain no ground by so doing. Either we lost possession of it, or else the scrum-half or out-half was smothered, and thus our centres and wings were starved. We failed to gain possession in the set scrums, the result being that we were defending on our line for most of the game. Belvedere had the wind in the first half and made good use of it by long touch-kicking and having forced the play into our twenty-five, scored from the line-out. E. Connellan, N. Flanagan and P. McCabe put in herculean work to stave off defeat but their efforts were in vain. Team.-J. O'Neill, B. Brennan, S. Brindley, T. Delahunt, M. Hennessy, L. Ryan, C. Crowley, P. McCabe, B. Mullen, N. Flanagan, B. Moylett, E. Connellan, J. McCrohan, T. Coleman, . McKnight.
KING'S HOSPITAL 11 CASTLEKNOCK 8
In our match against King's Hospital at home heavy rain before and during the match made the game mostly a forward one. Owing to lack of cohesion and not binding together in the forwards, King's Hospital's lively forwards frequently broke through us in the loose. In the line-out E. Connellan or B. Moylett almost invariably gained possession. King's Hospital scored first. Then came a brilliant return score on our part. The ball was heeled quickly, B. Devlin had it out instantly to T. Dodd, who taking the ball in his stride, cut through the opposing backs and passed out to Noel Flanagan for him to tip down behind the posts. P. McCabe converted. After half-time it was entirely a forward game, forward rushes being the main feature of the play. Although the score was I I points to 3 approaching full time, we attacked hard, and from a line-out on our opponent's line, E. Connellan, catching the ball cleanly, crashed his way over the line to touch down. The same player narrowly missed the convert. The game, although not very scientific, was of immense value, especially to our forwards, who gained much experience from their lively exchanges with the King's Hospital eight, under very adverse conditions. Team.- J. O'Neill, L. Ryan, J. Fitzharris, N. Flanagan, T. Delahunt, T. Dodd, B.Devlin, J. Conway, H. Robinson, J. McCrohan, E. Connellan, B. Moylett, C. Crowley, P. McCabe, N. McKnight.
CASTLEKNOCK 0 ST. ANDREW'S 0
We had our best and hardest match of the season against St. Andrew's in our own grounds and for which we fielded our strongest team. The play was very fast, and some nice passing movements were seen, but in the closing quarter the game was confined mostly to forward play. Our backs, though their movements were inclined to be scrappy at times, amply compensated for this by hard tackling which in several cases saved the day. Joe O'Neill played a very steady game at full-back, being always at hand when needed. The forwards showed a marked superiority in every department, and stood up to a gruelling test very creditably. They showed great fire in the loose, binding tightly and shoving hard in the set scrums, having the ball back quickly in the line-out when they got possession of it, and backing up well. In the first half the pace was very fast, one team now attacking in the opposing " 25," now being on the defensive. We were awarded a penalty almost on the half-way line, which E. Connellan narrowly missed. Play in the second-half was frequently interrupted because of players being in an off-side position. Although St. Andrew's missed two easy penalties in the closing stages, the final result was a fair one, as the teams were very evenly matched, and both played the same style of football. P. McCabe and E. Connellan played well in the forwards, while J. Fitzharris and T. Delahunt were very steady in defence. Team.-J. O'Neill, S. Brindley, J. Fitzharris, N. Flanagan, T. Delahunt, T. Dodd, B. Devlin, P. McCabe, D. Dunne, J. McCrohan, E. Connellan, B. Moylett, C. Crowley, N. McKnight, P. Hopkins.
CASTLEKNOCK 0 CLONGOWES 0
In a keenly, well-contested struggle against Clongowes in their grounds, the" game resulted in a scoreless draw. A heavy muddy pitch made the ball difficult to handle, with the result that there was very little back play in evidence. The forwards played splendidly, although handicapped by the loss of N. McKnight, who retired injured, early in the first half. In the set scrums, owing to our lack of "avoirdupois," we were frequently shoved off the ball, but in the last quarter, the ball came back so quickly that the superior Clongowes scrummaging, however, was not of such great advantage. In the line-outs Eddie Connellan and B. Moylett used their height in an advantageous manner getting the ball on numerous occasions and also working hard in the loose, while P. Hopkins played his best game to date as wing forward, covering up splendidly. Territorially no side had an advantage, the play swinging from one end of the pitch to the other. Owing to the close marking and keen tackling of our backs Clongowes were forced to adopt the tactics of kicking ahead, and following up, but all their attempts in this method of play were foiled by J. O'Neill's splendid fielding and kicking and his sure sense of position. Taking everything into consideration, a draw was a very fitting result to a hard fought game. Team.-J. O'Neill, T. Delahunt, J. Fitzharris, N. Flanagan, S. Brindley, T. Dodd, B. Devlin, P. McCabe, D. Dunne, J. McCrohan, E. Connellan, B. Moylett, C. Crowley, N. McKnight, P. Hopkins.
MOUNTJOY 12 CASTLEKNOCK 9
We were forced to field a weak team against Mountjoy, as more than half the regular team were on the injured list. Dull forward play was punctuated by a few good forward rushes, in which Conor Crowley figured prominently, but wild and inaccurate passing amongst the backs caused many a back movement to break down, when a try seemed certain. Joe O'Neill who was playing a very steady game at full-back kicked a penalty in the opening stages. Then came the one and onIy good back movement of the match. We got possession near the half-way, the ball travelled quickly out to our wing, P. Hennessy, who, by a great burst of speed, outpaced the opposing backs and scored near the corner flag. Later Stan Brindley tipped down from a long kick ahead by Joe O'Neill. Mid-way in the second-half M. Hennessy, owing to a knee injury, was forced to retire, Conor Crowley coming out into the backs. In the last quarter we were outplayed by the Mountjoy backs, who crossed our line three times. Team.-J. 0'Neill, M. Hennessy, N.Flanagan, S. Brindley, P. Hennessy, B. Brennan, B. Devlin, J. McCrohan, D. Dunne, H. Robinson, M. Shipsey, B. Halpenny, T. Coleman, J. Conway, Conor Crowley.
PAST 6 PRESENT 5
The Past honoured us with their presence to-day fielding a fairly strong team. The match produced the usual keen rivalry and excitement, the deciding score being got in the last few minutes. The forwards did very well against a much better pack, being masters of nearly all the set scrums. but faded out near the end against the "heavier pack. Close marking and keen tackling nullified the efforts of the backs on either side to open up the game. The Present pressed hard from the beginning, forced the play in the Past's half, and maintained it there. Our sustained attack yielded no result until nearing halftime when Jack Fitzharris intercepted a careless pass, and running straight and with determination tipped down behind the posts. E. Connellan added the extra points to the accompanying cheers of enthusiasm from the spectators. On the resumption the Present went into the attack again, but in the last quarter they faded out completely. The" illustrious" Past crossed our line twice, but failed to convert either try. Team.-J. O'Neill, T. Delahunt, N. Flanagan, J. Fitzharris, T. Dodd, B. Devlin, N. McKnight, D. Dunne, J. McCrohan, E. Connellan, B. Halpenny, C. Crowley, H. Robinson, P. Hopkins.
UCD. FRESHMEN 6 CASTLEKNOCK 0
Our first match ever against U.C.D. Freshmen, on which team there were six past pupils, proved to be a very close one. We had the better of exchanges in the first half, but lack of cohesion and understanding on the part of our backs spoiled some very good opportunities that came our way. Knock were superior in the set scrums, but in the line-outs and loose scrums the forwards did not bind tight enough, with the result that on some occasions our opponents broke through. Shortly after half-time our captain, J. Fitzharris, with a great burst of speed cut right through the D.C.D. defence, but was tackled within a short distance of the line. We pressed again and again, but our efforts were of no avail. We failed to cross their line once. In the last quarter L. Ryan and J. McCrohan retired injured. put in Trojan work, while P. Hopkins and D. Dunne showed great liveliness in the loose.
ST. ANDREWS 6 CASTLEKNOCK 0
We had looked forward with keen anticipation to this match, and although we did not travel at full strength, we put up a valiant fight and almost gained the laurels. Although the play was not very scientific, it was a fast, exciting match with patches of brilliant football interwoven through it. Hard tackling by the backs saved the day on many occasions against a much faster opposition, while in the forwards we were superior in the tight, and held our own in the line-out and loose. In the first half Noel Flanagan taking a pass in his stride, cut through our opponent's defence, but was tackled within inches of the line. Tom Delahunt, who was playing out-half had hard luck on another occasion not to score. Amongst the forwards D. Dunne, N. McKnight and J. McCrohan put in good solid work in the line-out and loose. But St. Andrew's well deserved their victory, and on the day's play were the better team. Team.-J. Geraghty, B. Brennan, M. Hennessy, N. Flanagan, S. Brindley, T. Delahunt, B. Devlin, N. McKnight, D. Dunne, J. McCrohan, B. Halpenny, M. Shipsey, P. Hopkins, H. Robinson, C. Crowley.
CASTLEKNOCK 4 CLONGOWES 0
In our first match of the Easter Term and the last" friendly" before the Cup Matches we defeated Clongowes by one drop goal to nil. Our backs, although never dangerous in attack, played excellently in defence. Repeatedly, when Clongowes looked like scoring, our backs foiled the attempt by their sure persistent tackling. Stan Brindley's deadly tackling, which on numerous occasions, saved the day and Joe O'Neill's splendid fielding and kicking and his sure sense of position, were marked features of the game. B. Devlin played cleverly at scrum-half and was unlucky not to have scored once. The forwards were badly beaten for possession in the tight, and they did not seem to have .the same dash and fire in the loose as they had in previous matches. But even so we gained majority of the balls in the line-out, mainly owing to the untiring efforts of E. Connellan, ably assisted by P. Hopkins and P. McCabe. Clongowes won the toss, and had the favour of a slight cross breeze. They immediately went into the attack and forced the pIay into our twenty-five. But Knock, using the kick ahead, gradually worked the play up to our opponent's" 25." In this manner the first half slipped by, one team now being in the attack, now being forced on the defensive. Midway in the second half from a scrum near the Clongowes line, the forwards rose to the occasion nobly, heeled quickly and clearly, and B. Devlin had it out instantly to our waiting full back, who kicked the winning score. Clongowes fought back and were out of luck not to have crossed our line. But our forwards stood up to the pressure and lasted the pace well. Team.-J. O'Neill, S. Brindley, J. Fitzharris, N. Flanagan, T. Delahunt, T. Dodd, B. Devlin, J. lVIcCrohan, D. Dunne, P. McCabe, E. Connellan, B. Moylett, C. Healy, P. Hopkins, C. Crowley.
CASTLEKNOCK 27 C.U.S. 3
We all trooped out to Donnybrook to see our first round Cup match against C. U.S. We did not settle down to the game in the beginning, and accommodated ourselves to the pace set by C.U.S., but as the game progressed, our play also improved, until in the later period of the game, we were superior in every department. The backs were seldom tested in defence, and when they were they were not found wanting. While in attack, despite the strong, straight running of Noel Flanagan, lack of cohesion upset some promising back movements. We won the toss, and consequently elected to play with the advantage of a slight cross breeze. After ten minutes of scrappy play, from a scrum on our opponent's "25," a back movement got under way, the ball travelling quickly across the backs to S. Brindley, who touched down near the corner flag. Later N. Flanagan, using his weight and speed, burst through the opposing backs and grounded also. Just before halftime B. Devlin, who was playing a very clever game, made an opening for E. Connellan to score. On the resumption of play C.U.S. attacked with great vigour, and reduced arrears by kicking a penalty goal. But our forwards fought back, and their efforts were rewarded by a penalty which P. McCabe had no difficulty in kicking. From this time on we were the better team, our superior stamina being very evident in the closing stages. E. Connellan recorded another score by crashing over the line. But the issue was put beyond doubt when B. Devlin, and B. Brennan grounded twice from scrums on our opponent's" 25." Although we won by a comfortable margin there was evident room for improvement, especially in the backs' attack, and these defects would have to be rectified for our next match against Clongowes.
Team.-J. O'Neill, S. Brindley, B. Brennan, N. Flanagan, T. Delahunt, T. Dodd, B. Devlin, P. McCabe, D. Dunne, J. McCrohan, B. Movlett, E. Connellan , C. Crowley, N. McKnight, P. Hopkins.
CLONGOWES 3 CASTLEKNOCK 0
With hopes high and determination firm we travelled to Donnybrook to play our Second Cup Match against Clongowes. A strong cross wind and rain in the opening stages made the ball slippery, and consequently back play was made much more difficult, but later the rain cleared and the wind dropped. The game, though not productive of very open football proved to be a very exciting struggle, and it mainly developed into a battle between two hard working packs. While we held the upper hand in the set scrums, the ball seldom travelled across our backs, play breaking down, due to dropped or ill-timed passes. Clongowes won the toss, and so had the wind in their favour. A very fast pace was set by the forwards which was maintained throughout the game. Play in the first half was mainly centred about the half-way, Clongowes using the wind to advantage by getting long touches. Vofe were awarded a penalty near mid-field, and Eddie Connellan, with a noteworthy effort, narrowly missed.
At half-time it looked odds on that it would be a scoreless draw, as our backs were playing very well in defence, but never looked dangerous in attack. But when Clongowes scored fourteen minutes from the end, the 'Knock team rallied to the attack desperately and put all they had into a do or die effort to stave off defeat. J. O'Neill came up out-half, B. Brennan going full-back. The ball was kicked off, the play was carried into the Clongowes "25," we were hurled back again, but again we swept the play back and kept up a dogged onslaught, returning again and again with unfaltering determination, but we were unable to get that all-important score. E. Connellan played an excellent game, leading the forwards splendidly, he was well helped by P. Hopkins, D. Dunne, N. McKnight, P. McCabe, while J. O'Neill displayed an admirable sense of position at full-back.
We congratulate Clongowes on their deserving win, and wish them the best of luck in their forthcoming matches.
Team.-J. O'Neill, B. Brennan, J.Fitzharris, N. Flanagan, T. Delahunt, T. Dodd, B. Devlin, C. Crowley, D. Dunne, P. McCabe, B. Moylett, N. McKnight, C. Healy, E. Connellan and P. Hopkins.
We thank Fr. Kehoe, our trainer, whose great patience and perseverance, hard work and advice was in no small measure responsible for whatever success we achieved during the season. vVe are also indebted to Mr. Gillespie, who made us as fit as we could possibly be, and it was through no fault of theirs that we did not retain the Cup for another year.
In conclusion we offer our heartiest congratulations to the four stalwarts who gained Interprovincial honours during the season. Eddie Connellan played in all three matches and captained the Leinster team against Ulster. Joe 0' Neill was capped for the games with Connaught and Ulster, while Paddy Hopkins and Tom Delahunt also represented their province, the former against Munster and the latter against Ulster. All acquitted themselves nobly in these matches and may claim their full share of glory in making Leinster unbeaten champions for the season 1944-'45. Castleknock is proud of them.
The Second XV had two matches during the season, both against Belvedere, whom they vanquished on each occasion. Second XV matches, if not exactly highly scientific, are generally noteworthy for the lively and energetic exchanges they produce. Our two games were well up to standard in this respect. We won the first match 15- I I, and the return game 6-3.
Team.-J. Geraghty (Capt.,) C. Schorman. E. Bourke, D. McQuillan, W. Raftery, B. Moore, L. Ryan, S. O'Flynn, S. Barren.. B. Mullan, J. Shanahan, T. Coleman, I. Boylan, L. O'Hara, D. Fitzgerald, F. Kierans.