1953-54 SCT Campaign
Senior House Rugby
Honorary Secretary EAMON RAFTERY
THE ELECTION of Frank O'Rourke as Captain of the House was a popular and worthy choice. It came as no surprise as in the previous season Frank was one of the outstanding forwards in Leinster. No less popular and worthy was the choice of his assistants, Tom Crotty and Eamon Raftery.
At the opening of the season we found ourselves as usual with abundant material for a good pack of forwards. F. O'Rourke, Tom Crotty, H. Wall, M. Barry, and J. Donworth were good school forwards by any standard. In the backs, apart from E. Raftery, we had the strong running J. Brogan from the previous year. But in general, although they were to prove themselves a very good defensive back line, in which every man tackled low and hard, they were also to show that they lacked the speed and resourcefulness so necessary for a very good back line.
CASTLEKNOCK 9 ST. MARY'S 0 (Away)
This, our first match of the season, was as usual a scrappy affair. Frank O'Rourke showed us that he can literally follow the ball at top speed for the entire duration of a match. By doing so, he scored two tries. Tom Lombard got the other. M. Barry was very fine in the line-out and G. Hardy had a good game at full-back.
CASTLEKNOCK 3 BELVEDERE 3 (Away)
Fielding two or three substitutes in the pack, and handicapped by the loss of C. Galligan (lock) early in the first half, we were badly beaten for possession. Thus our backs were called upon to show their worth in defence and this they did right well. Outstanding in this respect was John Brogan, whose flying tackles of Belvedere's big centre, Tony O'Reilly, were worth seeing. Belvedere got a try and our points came from a good penalty by F. O'Rourke.
CASTLEKNOCK 0 METHODY 3 (Away)
In the first few minutes of this match we lost our hooker, D. Brady. In spite of this our forwards did very well and were on top for most of the match. T. Crotty playing in his first match showed what a power he was in the line-out and loose. The Methody backs, however made better use of their opportunities than our own and deservedly won the match by a try to nothing.
CASTLEKNOCK 3 BLACKROCK 3 (Home)
This match, played in a downpour, was marked by lively forward play on both sides. F. O'Rourke who got our try had a great game and he was ably supported by T. Crotty and M. Barry. E. Raftery kicked well at out-half and showed he was possessed of an excellent pair of hands. Rock's try was a very fine one, got by their captain M. Brophy.
CASTLEKNOCK 0 NEWBRIDGE 3 (Away)
We received our first defeat at the hands of a Leinster school, from Newbridge. We had the better of the argument in the forwards and the backs got a good share of the ball, but a good Newbridge defence prevented us from crossing their line, although J. Brogan and E. Raftery made some dangerous runs. Newbridge got their points from a very good penalty with a heavy ball.
CASTLEKNOCK 6 CLONGOWES 3 (Home)
This match was notable for the very fine display by our forwards. They were fast on the ball, kept together well and gave the backs a good supply of the ball. This was due in no small measure to T. Lombard's fine hooking and T. Crotty's line-out play. Apart from playing his usual good game, F. O'Rourke proved himself a fine leader of the forwards. C. Byrne, although on the slow side, has a very good pass and he gave the other backs plenty of the ball. Perhaps our backs did not make as much of that service as they should have done, but however one excellent try was got, following a cut through by J. Brogan. C. Byrne got another.
CASTLEKNOCK 0 BLACKROCK 6
In this match, which was played on a heavy pitch, our forwards were disappointing and failed to get into their stride until almost the last ten minutes of the match. T. Crotty and M. Barry were the best of them. Bad defence around the scrum gave Blackrock a soft try. Their other try came from a good forward rush. Near the end E. Raftery. in the best move of the match, dummied his way through the Blackrock defence. After a thirty yards run he passed to the reliable John Bourke, whose backing up is always good, and John just failed short of the line.
PAST 8 PRESENT 0
In an entertaining match, the Past just merited to win, because of their supremacy in the backs. But our forwards mastered the Past forwards, who seemed to be a little short of wind, and on a couple of occasions, they very nearly scored.
CASTLEKNOCK 6 CLONGOWES 3
In the first half of this match our team gave what was perhaps their best display of the whole season. Our forwards gained supremacy over a very strong Clongowes pack, a notable feature of their play being their interpassing. Henry Wall, one of our best forwards, who was absent for all the Christmas term because of an injury, made a very welcome return to the pack and had a great game. E. Raftery played a brilliant game at out-half—his handling, timing of his passes and varied kicking being excellent. He cut through on several occasions from one of which he scored. The rest of the back line played well also. G. Guy had some good runs on the wing and our two newcomers J. Callanan and M. Rafferty showed they were well worth their places on the team. Our second score was a really fine one. From a scrum near the touch line about ten yards outside the twenty-five yards line, the ball travelled to J. Brogan, who taking a short pass cut through brilliantly. On being opposed by the full-back he sent the ball into our lock-forward, T. Crotty, who crossed near the posts. For most of the second half the Clongowes forwards were in command, but apart from a good penalty goal failed to score.
CASTLEKNOCK 17 ST. MARY'S 3
Castleknock College took some time to work up steam in their Leinster Schools Senior Cup second round tie with St. Mary's College, Rathmines, at Donnybrook yesterday, but once they had settled down there was never any doubt as to the final outcome, and the final score of one goal and four tries to a penalty goal in their favour in no way flattered them.
The foundation of Castleknock's victory was built on their pack, a very fit and fast eight who displayed great fire and vigour for the full duration. In fact eleven of their total number of points came from the forwards. Such as O'Rourke, Crotty, McGeough, Barry and Wall, were very effective in all phases, and although their efforts bore no fruit in the first half they had given their opponents such a gruelling that chinks began to show in a tiring St. Mary's defence after the interval, and scores followed almost as a matter of course. Brogan, in the centre, made one grand break which brought a try, and the back line in general was well served by scrum-half Byrne, while Rafferty was the essence of soundness at full back.
St. Mary's made a gallant fight of it for half the match, but could not last the pace. Their forwards were giving away a considerable amount of weight and despite the best efforts of Purcell, Bagnall, Shiel and Reddy, they had to bow to the inevitable. On the few chances they got the backs were not impressive, and only Montague seemed likely to beat the opposing defence. The scoring began in the early stages of the second half when Brogan made the cut-through that put Callanan over for the first Castleknock try. Then Guy went clean through to touch down beside the posts, O'Rourke converting. Crotty and Wall in turn were credited with the touchdowns when Castleknock twice pushed scrums over the line. In between these Cooke landed a fine penalty goal for St. Mary's from the twenty-five yard mark beside the touchline, but the winners had the last word when McGeough picked up near the line and dived over for another try.
CASTLEKNOCK 0 BELVEDERE 11
For our semi-final match with Belvedere, we had to take the field without our Interprovincial lock-forward, T. Crotty. This was a severe loss not only because it affected the morale of the team and because he was a power in the loose where he worked well with F. O'Rourke, but perhaps even more so, because of what his absence meant with respect to the all important factor of possession in both the scrums and the line-out.
The match itself, though hard fought was not a great one. Our forwards were not as good as usual. To quote the Independent " Castleknock College, who were unlucky in being without their interprovincial lockforward, T. Crotty, had the man of the match on their side in O'Rourke, a player of dynamic energy ; but most of the time the rest of the pack in which Wall and McMahon were industrious, were only toiling after him. The backs were never a telling force in attack, despite some good individual efforts by Raftery and Bourke. Nevertheless the whole side deserves credit for unflagging determination in defence. Not one shirked in going down on the ball in moments of crises. Belvedere opened their account with a rather lucky try when, after a misunderstanding between Rafferty and Callanan, the latter's delayed clearance was charged down by O'Reilly and O'Dwyer got the touch-down. Lenehan, who converted, also kicked two splendid penalty goals, one shortly before the interval and the second soon after the restart."
Belvedere were worthy winners on the day's play. They had a strong back line which received a deal of criticism, much of which at any rate was undeserved. There is a lot of truth in the saying that a " back line will play as good as it is let," and stylish back play is not easy against a hard tackling defence which comes up fast, such as ours was.
Our congratulations are due to F. O'Rourke and T. Crotty on getting their places on the Leinster team. They were picked for all three matches and Tom had the honour of captaining the team against Connaught.
Before closing the notes we would like to thank our trainer Fr. O'Rafferty for his efforts on our behalf. Also those boys who formed the opposition and gave unselfishly of their services in the training of the team. Nor must we forget to thank C. Callan, who at inconvenience to himself, came out to help in the training of the team.