1951-52 SCT Campaign
Standing—John Moore, Conor Austin, David O'Neill.
Seated.—Dermot Ward, James Crotty. On Ground.—Jerry Nestor
Captain of the House—CONOR AUSTIN. Vice-Captain—JEREMIAH NESTOR.
Honorary Secretary—PATRICK HANNA
THE PROSPECTS of regaining the Senior Cup appeared at the commencement of the season to be good, though not exceptionally so. We had six players from last year's team, and ample material to form a good pack, but once again we were faced with the difficulty of producing a strong attacking back-line. Most of the candidates for the three-quarters lacked the necessary weight and pace, or in their absence the exceptional skill, to worry the opposing defence. The vital positions of out-half and scrum-half were open at the beginning of the season, but we were fortunate in the rapid development of Jerry Nestor into the best scrum-half in Leinster.
CASTLEKNOCK 19 ST. MARY'S 5
Our first match of the season gave us a convincing win over St. Mary's College. Our forwards displayed great dash in the loose and had the better of the scrums and line-outs. The backs, though individually good, lacked cohesion. As might be expected from a first match the play was on the whole rather scrappv.
CASTLEKNOCK 3 BELVEDERE 3
A draw was about a fair result of this match, in which our forwards after a rather slow >tart, beat the light Belvedere pack. Despite this advantage our backs were unable to score a try, and the opposing back-line showed that given many opportunities they could be very dangerous. Our score came from a well taken penalty by C. Austin, to which Belvedere replied with a try.
CASTLEKNOCK 0 METHODIST COLLEGE 12
We were deservedly beaten by an exceptionally good Methody team 12 pts. to 0 in Belfast. For this match we experimented with J. Nestor at scrum-half, and though he had the most severe obstacles to overcome, as the match was played in appalling conditions, and our forwards though winning almost all the scrums—thanks to D. O'Neill's excellent hooking—heeled the ball very slowly, still Jerry had a very good game and is clearly there to stay. The Methody forwards had the better of tbe game in the loose and in the line-outs, and on the wet and muddy pitch made our forwards look poor. Their backs, especially their out-half, were too fast for our lads to hold and their two tries were well deserved. However in defence of our lads it can be said that they had to play the first twenty minutes in the face of a blinding wind-storm which wore down their stamina.
CASTLEKNOCK 11 BLACKROCK 3
A match with Blackrock is usually an indication of a team's chances for the Cup. This year we had every reason to be satisfied with our victory over a rather weak 'Rock team. Our forwards played much better than in their last match and dominated the play both in the loose and in the set scrums. C. Austin; J. Crotty and S. Clyne were outstanding for us, sweeping through the opposing forwards and being constantly on the ball. Owing to the high wind that was blowing our backs had not much chance to shine, yet they did manage to get one beautiful try, when after a cut-through by J. Nestor, R. Whelan took a short pass going at full speed and gave F. O'Rourke a clear path for a score at the corner. Another positional change in the backs proved to be very successful to-day, when J. Moore gave a very sound display as full back, and removed any fears we might have had in playing S. Clyne elsewhere. C. Austin had two lovely kicks in this match from far out, one a penalty and the other a convert.
CASTLEKNOCK 8 BELVEDERE 13
Belvedere, despite the fact that they were on the defensive for most of the match had a well deserved win over us to-day. The match is chiefly memorable for two brilliant tries by Belvedere from their own half, in which most of the backs played their part. For us, the forwards after an early score by J. Nestor, seemed to ease up and were never able to regain control after the two quick tries by Belvedere, while the backs showed a definite weakness in defence, which must be cleared up if we are to win the Cup. Two of the Belvedere tries could have been stopped by determined tackles and the third was due to wild passing on our side.
CASTLEKNOCK 10 NEWBRIDGE 0
In a keen, well contested game against Newbridge on their grounds our team showed its best form to date. Our forwards playing with great fire gradually subdued their rather tough opponents, while the backs ran straight and hard. Our tries were obtained by F. O'Rourke and J. Nestor, the latter's from a typical break away on the opponents 25.
CASTLEKNOCK 16 CLONGOWES 3
The match with Clongowes was rather marred bv a strong wind which made open back play difficult. Against the breeze in the first half our forwards played splendidly and maintained, despite some magnificent kicking by the Clongowes out-half, territorial advantage. Thus it was rather against the run of the play when Clongowes picked up a slack score through our lads not playing the whistle, while the referee, playing the advantage rule, let Clongowes break away for a score. It was not till well on in the second half that we obtained our first score from a quick break away by Nestor which was converted by Austin. This was followed by a try by B. Howlett and by two fine tries by S. Clyne, who was the outstanding player on the field. B. Cuddy at very short notice took over the position of full-back, and gave a very competent display.
CASTLEKNOCK 3 BLACKROCK 8
We were short our captain and leader of the forwards for our return match with Blackrock and this, we hope, may explain the poor showing of our forwards who never reached the heights that they attained in previous matches. Blackrock were worthy winners in a match that, from our point of view, the less said about the better.
CASTLEKNOCK 3 TERENURE 6
We looked forward with interest to our match with Terenure College, who had an unbeaten record for the season and were considered by many as likely cup-winners. Unfortunately we were once again without the services of C. Austin. In a hard forward battle we were defeated by 6 pts. to 3, but there was very little in the match and a draw might have been a fairer result. After the first half in which the Terenure pack had definitely the upper hand, our forwards came back with renewed vigour and held the very opponents in the loose and won the majority of the scrums. However despite pressure we failed to score in this half and Terenure emerged victors.
PRESENT 3 PAST 3
As usual our " Past " match was played in the worst possible conditions, much to everyone's disappointment. We had looked forward to an enjoyable game in which we could show the recent Past that football had certainly not deteriorated since they left, and perhaps we could have shown them a trick or two. However the match was played in a downpour of rain, accompanied with a wild west wind, in which any type of football was impossible. The result, a draw, was the fairest. Despite it all, we are sure the Past enjoyed their day's entertainment.
1st round: CASTLEKNOCK 9 BLACKROCK 0
Before a packed stand in Donnybrook, we achieved the rare feat of Blackrock College in the first round of the Cup. We were well worth our 9 points victory in a match in which our lads showed from the start that they were determined to win. The Irish Press said of the game : " 'A grand side ' said the impartial spectator as he came away from Donnybrook after watching Castleknock beat Blackrock by a dropped goal and two tries to nil in what was easily the best game so far in the Leinster Senior Cup. That Castleknock were going to win was evident from the start for they had everything- From intelligent and determined forwards who knew the value of combined effort, to backs who attacked and defended skillfully, they were competent throughout. Their star turn was, however, at half back, where Howlett and Nestor struck up a happy partnership, with the latter putting the stamp of class on everything he did. Whether sending our rocket-like passes from the base of the scrum or kicking astutely to touch he was the essence of what a scrum-half should be."
Our first score was obtained after twenty minutes by J. Nestor who made a smart run from a scrum twenty yards from the line to score an excellent try. Just before half-time, B. Howlett dropped a grand goal to leave us six points in front facing the wind in the second half. After the interval we resumed our attacks on the Rock line, and were rewarded with a try when the forwards gained possession in a scrum, held the ball and shoved the opposing pack over the line for D. O'Neill to get the touch down. In a pack that were all on top-form, C. Austin stood out for his line-out work, J. Crotty for his work in the loose and D. Ward for some devastating tackling.
2nd Round: CASTLEKNOCK 14 ST. COLUMB.A'S 3
After a somewhat disappointing display we defeated St. Columba's College by a goal and three tries to a penalty goal and so entered the semi-final. The team played well in the first half in which the backs had some slick movements, but after bringing the score to fourteen points early in the second half, they slacked off and finished poorly. Nevertheless D. O'Neill once more proved his value as a hooker by giving us a steady supply of the ball, while C. Austin and P. O'Rourke were about the best of the forwards, who unfortunately did not rise above the spoiling play of their opponents. Among the backs, J. Moore once again gave a very efficient display as full-back, never failing to find his touch; S. Clyne gathered speed quickly in the centre and was difficult to check when in full flight and B. Cuddy ran with determination on the wing.
Semi-final: CASTLEKNOCK 6 CLONGOWES 0
In the semi-final of the Cup we met and defeated Clongowes Wood College by a penalty goal and a try to nil. In a hard forward battle, perhaps the toughest we had this year, our forwards just about got the better of a heavier Clongowes pack, and our backs did not make as many mistakes as their opponents. After a grimly fought first half in which neither side could score, our forwards gradually wore down the opposition and took control of the game. Early- on in the second half a well-taken penalty by C. Austin gave us the lead, and for the rest of the time we kept on a steady pressure which was rewarded with a good try by B. Cuddy after a movement of well timed passes by the backs.
Among the forwards, C. Austin and P. Hanna were outstanding, especially in line-out play where C. Austin jumped higher than anyone else and secured for us a good share of the ball, while P. Hanna, though perhaps not so noticeable, put in tremendous work in the loose-scrums. J. Moore once again had a brilliant game at full-back and earned the unanimous praise of the press, " Easily the outstanding player on the field was the Knock full-back, J. Moore, whose positional play, handling and kicking were excellent. Only once during the entire match did he fail to find touch." (The Irish Press.) Our two centres also played well, R. Whelan being unlucky on one or two occasions not to pave the way for a score with his powerful bursts through the centre.
Final: CASTLEKNOCK 3 TERENURE 9
We were reasonably- confident going to Lansdowne Road for the final that with the slight advantage which we had in the backs over Terenure we would win the Leinster Senior Schools Cup. We had our first great thrill in the third minute of the game when C. Austin landed a very fine penalty kick from near the touch line to give us the lead. Until almost half-time, despite the fact that we were playing against a strong breeze, we had the upper hand and kept the play in the Terenure half of the field. Quick breaking by their wing forwards and good tackling by the backs prevented our taking advantage of this supremacy. We had our chance during this twenty minutes and with a little more enterprise on the part of our backs could have made certain of the match. Just before half time there was a determined attack on our line during which we had some narrow escapes, and then just as our forwards seemed to be clearing the danger, over eagerness gave Terenure a simple penalty, which left the score three points all at half time.
With the wind in our favour in the second half we thought that we would still win. However Terenure having got on terms, seemed to be a new team and their forwards were truly magnificent. In an all-out attack in the first few minutes of the second half they scored twice. Though there were no more scores during the rest of the game, there could be no doubt that our forwards had at last met their match, and though they fought to the end, they were beaten by a better team on the day's display. We offer our sincere congratulations to Terenure College on winning the Cup on their first appearance in Lansdowne, by their recovery after the first quick score they showed their fine fighting spirit and richly deserved their laurels. Congratulations to our team also; in all their matches they played with great determination, a determination which had been shown throughout the year in their training, and though they failed to win the Cup, they tried valiantly and like many a 'Knock team before them, only failed at the last hurdle.
Team : J. Moore ; B. Cuddv, S. Clvne, R. Whelan, F. O'Rourke; B.' Howlett, J. Nestor; G. Curran, D. O'Neill, J. Quinn, C. Austin, P. Hanna, T. Crotty, J. Crotty, D. Ward.
We conclude by congratulating C. Austin, J. Nestor and D. O'Neill on playing in all Leinster Schools' Interprovincial matches this season, and J. Crotty, D. Ward and J. Moore who also obtained Interprovincial caps. Finally we wish to thank Fr. Walsh, our trainer, for his unsparing efforts on our behalf during the vear.