Castleknock College Union

1947-48 SCT Campaign

Senior House Rugby

Mar 17, 1948
1947-48 SCT Campaign -

Leo Lynch, Tom Cleary, Brendan Guerin, Roger Shipsey, John Nestor, Richard O'Neill

 Captain of the House - Tom Cleary Vice-Captain - John Nestor

Hon. Secretary - Dick O'Neill

 WITH SEVEN of last year's Cup-winning team available to form the mainstay of the S.C.T. our prospects of retaining the Cup seemed very bright. With five of last season's splendid pack we were to have an eight that took some beating. In Roger Shipsey and Tim Ryan we had two excellent front row forwards, who besides their ability to pack tightly in the scrums, were quick breaking forwards and were continually on the ball. In Leo Lynch and Brendan Guerin we had second row forward and a lock forward, who were towers of strength in the line-outs and who during the season proved themselves to have unequals in Leinster for their all round play. Besides these four we had at wing-forward . Dick O'Neill, who was a tireless worker and seemed to be always on the ball, sound both in attack and defence. In addition to these we had plenty of material available to fill the necessary gaps. E. McCabe, M. Ward, B. Kerr, D. McMahon, R. Dowley, R. O'Meara and P. Cooney were forwards above the ordinary all of whom won their places for some match.

With the backline we were not so fortunate as we had only two of last year's team available, in John Nestor and Tom Cleary. The former, strongly built boy was to prove himself the outstanding centre in the province and whose ability to cut through always spelt danger for the defence. In the latter we had a tireless worker at the base of the scrum, whose passing was lengthy and whose defence was thoroughly dependable. Among the backs we were to have two fine wingers in Liam Burke and Aitken Austin, excellent both in defence and attack. In J. Morris we had a centre who had played a faultless game in the semi-final against Belvedere last season but unfortunately owing to a leg injury was off rugby for the first term. In the friendly matches it was obvious that we missed his services to a great extent for besides being an attacking centre he had a solid defence. B. Kiely, M. Quirke and J. McGettigan were three reliable backs, capable of filling any vacancy in the backline. In B. Lowe, who finally.. secured the position, M. Lynch and M. Harvey we had full-backs of exceptional merit. And last but not least we had A. Connolly, the find of the season, who having been transferred from wing to out-half proved himself an attacking back with excellent hands and a quick turn of speed together with a smart dummy.


This was the first match of the season and so, great interest was taken in it, as by it we hoped to gain an idea of the team's merit. However, having B. Lowe, T. Ryan, R. Shipsey and J. Morris off owing to injuries, we were weakened to a great extent. During the game we attempted to play open football but were not allowed, due to the spoiling tactics of the Belvedere team. This led to a poor and scrappy game. Our only score of the game occurred in the second half. T. Cleary broke away from the scrum at the half way line and ran towards the corner flag, but instead of passing out to his backs, passed back again to his wing forward, E. McCabe, who drew the full-back and sent B. Guerin over for an unconverted try.


This match, on the home ground, gave us a true idea of how we were to fare in the cup matches. Our forwards, against a heavier pack, played great football mastering the 'Rock eight in the loose and more than holding their own in the tight. B. Guerin, L. Lynch, R. Shipsey had an excellent game and it was fitting that the first named, a tireless leader, should have crashed over from a line out late in the second half for the only score of the match. The kick at goal failed. The ball from the set scrums came back slowly and behind the scrum there was little thrust, but on the day's play our backs were superior to those of 'Rock.


In our next, we played poor football. The score of 18 pts. to nil did not flatter us as we were up against a very weak side. Our forwards were slow and did not work together while the backs continually dropped passes and indulged far too much in the kick ahead as means of attack. However, when the ball did travel across to our wings they ran hard and strong. L. Burke on the left wing showed great determination in his running and obtained two grand tries. John Nestor kicked a lengthy penalty goal and in addition secured a try. B. Guerin and A. Connolly completed the score with a score each.


Conditions were ideal for one of our most important and keenly contested friendlies. As in previous years the match attracted a large crowd of spectators, who were not disappointed, as both teams decided on open football and so a grand game followed. B. Kiely filled the vacant centre position and B. Kerr and R. Dowley took the places in the forwards of T. Ryan and E. McCabe who were off owing to injuries. The game started at a very fast pace which was maintained throughout. Early in the game we were very lucky as Corcoran the Clongowes' left-winger was well tackled by B. Lowe on two occasions when he was just inches from the line. From then on we pressed hard and were rewarded with a grand try by B. Kerr who was quick to pick up a loose ball near the line and crash his way through the defenders. The kick at goal failed. At this stage our forwards were playing as a unit and with great dash while the backs showed great improvement in their passing and handling. Before the interval T. Cleary broke away from the base of the scrum, near our opponents' twenty-five and selling a neat dummy crossed for a try to which J. Nestor added the extra points. In scoring the former wrenched his ankle and had to retire, his position being filled by D. 0' Neill, who proved his ability to play as a back with great skill. Though reduced to seven forwards we had the better of exchanges in the second half. The forwards kept up the pressure and some grand back movements with individual thrusts by A. Connolly, J. Nestor and B. Kiely were a delight to watch. When the final whistle sounded our line was still uncrossed and we were worthy winners by 8 pts. to nil.


In our only game of the season with St. Mary's we upheld the good form which we displayed in our previous match. The game was lively and the backs handled and passed with great ability. The forwards were slow in the first half but got down to business in the second half and completely subdued the light eight of Mary's. In this match P. Cooney was hooking and won a great majority of the balls from the set scrums. B. Guerin and R. Shipsey crowned their all round play with a try each while J. Nestor, having an excellent game secured nine points, two tries and a penalty goal. The first of these tries was the highlight of the game. Making a beautiful intercept on his own twenty-five he outran the whole defence to secure a magnificent score under the posts. The latter part of the game was marred by ,heavy rain but we emerged victorious by 18 pts. to 7.


For our next match we travelled to Blackrock. Of this game little can be said as heavy rain and a soft pitch hindered back play and from the start it was a forward game. Our pack though well beaten in the set scrums had the upper hand in the loose. Were it not for the wholehearted tackling of our backline the score in favour of 'Rock would have been greater. Special credit must be given to our full-back, B. Lowe, whose kicking and tackling were excellent and who showed his ability to handle a slippery ball 'with great skill. 'Rock finally emerged victorious by 3 pts. to nil.

Our last match of the term was played against the Past. Our only score of the game came in the first five minutes, when Liam Burke after a delightful run touched down at the corner flag. But our experienced and polished opponents soon showed their superiority in all phases of the game and at the final whistle had 17 pts, to our 3. Our forwards played as individuals while the backs handled badly. Special credit however is due to Leo Lynch whose line-out work excelled even that of the Past and whose holding proved even too much for the giants.



In our first Cup game we were given a rare fright by Masonic who more than held their own up to fifteen minutes from the end. The game started at a very fast pace. The Masonic forwards proceeded to gain possession from the set scrums, and to outplay us in the loose. Winning most of the balls, the Masonic halves gained valuable ground with lengthy kicks for touch. From the start our opponents pressed hard and within three minutes were three points up with a penalty goal. Then after ten minutes play, completely against the run of the play, we had a fine effort by our three-quarter, J. Nestor, who, making a delightful intercept on his own twenty-five, and beating the full-back with a lightning swerve outran the defence to touch down beneath the posts,' The kick at goal failed. At this period we lost the service of J. Nestor. D. O'Neill took over the centre position and with seven forwards we heeled on our opponents twenty-five and D. O'Neill kicked ahead towards the corner flag. A. Austin following up fast, kicked over the line and with a magnificent burst of speed beat three defenders for the touch-down. The kick at goal again failed. Masonic pressed again and were awarded with an unconverted try. The convert was excellently blocked down by J. Morris and thus Masonic were robbed of a valuable two points' lead. Soon after the interval J. Nestor returned and immediately A. Austin scored a splendid try from a blind side movement. But Masonic were awarded a free far out and with a superb kick equalised. At this stage we were superior in the forwards and we took the lead with a grand score by J. Nestor. We finished stronger and a few minutes before the final whistle D. O'Neill, playing a splendid game, increased our lead of three points, when backing up in his usual manner, received an in pass from J. Nestor and swerved past two defenders to touch down near the posts.

Team. - M. Lynch, A. Austin, J. Nestor, J. Morris, L. Burke, A. Connolly, T. Cleary, R. Shipsey, M. Ward, P. Cooney, T. Ryan, D. McMahon, D. O'Neill, B. Kerr, L. Lynch


Although Masonic had given us a close game in the first match, we were very confident taking the field against Andrews' whom we had defeated easily early on in the season. We took quite a while to settle down, however, the heeling from the set scrums being bad and the handling of the backs even worse. However, a brilliant try by Aiden Connolly seemed to restore a great deal of confidence. The forwards began to heel with clockwork regularity and the backs indulged in some fine passing movements, carried out with great skill and speed. Aiden Connolly and T. Cleary hit it off very well at half-back, the latter rarely failing to find his partner after the first shaky twenty minutes. J. Nestor was a great source of worry to the Andrew's defence, running cleverly and timing his passes splendidly. His kicking was also a feature of the game. L. Burke and A. Austin ran very strongly on both wings. J. Morris showed great determination in. his running and had an excellent game. .The forwards, particularly in the second half, showed what they were capable of. They completely monopolised both the tight and loose. The best of a really good pack was L. Lynch who appeared to be absolutely tireless both in defence and attack. His work in the line-out was invaluable and his devastating tackling spoiled many of Andrew's movements. R. O'Neill also had a splendid game. His general play showed touches of real class. T. Ryan and R. Shipsey worked very hard in the tight. The scoring was completely one-sided. We turned over with a lead of 11 pts. which we increased to 35 before the final whistle. The scorers were A. Connolly, 4 tries, the first of which was the highlight of the game, and a penalty. J. Nestor, one try, one penalty goal and four converts. T. Cleary and A. Austin each had a try.

Team.-B. Lowe, A. Austin, J. Nestor J. Morris, L. Burke, A. Connolly, T. Cleary; R. Shipsey, M. Ward, T. Ryan, R. Dawley, D. McMahon, D. O'Neill, B. Kerr, L. Lynch.



We took the field against Belvedere feeling very confident after our good display against Andrew's, but at the same time expecting a very hard match. B. Guerin, one of our star forwards, was back in the team and this fact gave the forwards great confidence.

We were determined to get off to a flying start but what actually happened exceeded all expectations. Straight from the kick off the Belvedere full-back knocked on. We scrummed down, heeled like lightning and with the backs handling brilliantly we got the ball out to L. Burke who beat three men and scored a really magnificent try at the corner. The kick at goal failed. This great start knocked a lot of the fight from the Belvedere team and we had the better of exchanges for the next twenty minutes. Then J. Nestor sold a perfect dummy to beat his man and with a fine turn of speed beat the full-back and touched down near the corner flag. The same player added the extra points with a magnificent kick. After this Belvedere never appeared likely to do anything. Brilliant hooking by M. Ward and splendid loose play by T. Ryan, L. Lynch, B. Guerin starved their backs of the ball. B. Guerin's line out work was devastating while T. Ryan also showed great ball control in heading some fiery forward rushes. Once again the running of the wings was a feature of the match while J. Nestor also had a fine game, running very strongly and gaining much valuable ground with long punting. The game fizzled out into a drab second half, with Castleknock emerging easy winners.

Team.-B. Lowe, A. Austin, J. Nestor, J. Morris, L. Burke, A. Connolly, T. Cleary, R. Shipsey, M. Ward, T. Ryan, B. Kerr, D. McMahon, D. O'Neill, B. Guerin, L. Lynch.



It came as a great disappointment to all concerned when St. Patrick's Day and Final day dawned wet and windy. Every hope of good rugby between ourselves and Blackrock was literally washed out. The wet ground and greasy ball did not suit us as we had been relying upon our fast and capable back line to win the game. Under the appalling conditions which prevailed, our rear division never got going and had generally speaking a bad game. Our forwards though beaten badly in the vast majority of set scrums, gave a grand display in the loose but could not round off the all important try.

Blackrock started at a cracking pace and completely monopolised the set scrums for the first fifteen minutes and so kept us on the defensive. It was strange then that they should score from the first scrum that we won. J. Nestor, who had moved into out-half from centre-half fumbled a pass from T. Cleary and was tackled while in the act of kicking. The kick therefore went wild and dropped into the hands of a Blackrock forward. Running towards the line he passed out to McGrath, one of the Rock centres, who crossed the line for an unconverted try. We then made great efforts to get on level terms but missed two great chances when A. Connolly and B. Lowe shot wide with attempts at a drop goal from easy positions. Then our defence wilted under the unceasing pressure which followed for the next ten minutes and 'Rock scored again, this time per Nolan, the other centre, who made a dazzling twenty-five yard sprint to score far out. The kick was missed again, but Blackrock turned over with a very useful lead of 6 pts. It was obvious in the second half that our opponents were willing to sit on their lead. They kicked time after time or else their forwards held the ball. We could do little against these tactics, although our forwards actually wore down the 'Rock eight for the last twenty minutes.

The backs, with the exception of T. Cleary and B. Lowe, had an off day. A. Connolly, our out-half, was severely handicapped all through the game with a badly pulled leg while, J. Nestor and J. Morris, from whom so much had been expected, struck a very unhappy day. L. Burke and A. Austin on the wings were starved but proved their ability with excellent defending. B. Lowe fielded and kicked the heavy ball with consistent brilliance, while T. Cleary worked tirelessly both in defence and attack.

About the middle of the second half 'Rock put the issue beyond doubt when one of our forwards conceded a penalty for obstruction and Gilvarry made no mistake with an easy kick. The only time during the game did we look like scoring was when J. Nestor attempted long range penalty goals. Our team, however, in true 'Knock spirit, during the last quarter, put in a finishing attack and pressed hard on the 'Rock line. It was a great pity that no score resulted but fate and the 'Rock team were against us and the final whistle left Blackrock winners by 9 pts. to nil.

Team of the Final.-B. Lowe, A. Austin, J. Nestor, J. Morris, L. Burke, A. Connolly, T. Cleary, R. Shipsey, M. Ward, T. Ryan, D. McMahon, B. Kerr, R. O'Neill, B. Guerin, L. Lynch.

During the season a number showed themselves outstanding and succeeded in winning for themselves the coveted colours of Leinster. Special praise must be allotted to J. Nestor and L. Lynch, who, with outstanding performances, represented the college on the Leinster fifteen in all three interprovincial matches, while B. Guerin was "capped" against Ulster and Connaught and T. Cleary against Connaught, R. O'Neill against Munster and R. Shipsey against Ulster, completed the grand total of six interpros. for the season.

Finally, we would like to thank firstly, Fr. Walsh, our trainer, without whom we would not have attained such success. His task of blending us into a first class team was not easy especially when during the season he was hindered by severe injuries to players but by 'his splendid advice and coaching he made us worthy finalists. All our victories and successes are his. Secondly, the team for their spirit and excellent co-operation and last but not least, all and every one of the 1st Club, who by their assistance and help, made the training of the team possible, and moulded us into a fifteen that upheld the traditions of the navy and sky.