It’s Throwback Thursday on stconleths.ie! Since sport is currently reduced to pilates apps and Wii Sports, we will recall the golden days with a weekly virtual visit to the archives. This week: the legendary 2016 SCT’s earlier but just as inspirational incarnation: the 2013 JCT! Yes, we were younger and lighter (except on top) back then and the world was our oyster. And Gav was our god. Enjoy!
No sooner do we do our rugby ’round-up’ for the season and the boys send a clear message: it ain’t over, yet! Coaches Louis Magee, Mr. Smyth and Mr. Morris had a particularly good match day yesterday as both First years and the JCT emerged as victors over some quality competition. The youngsters earned a hard fought victory yesterday over De la Salle, 31-21. Below you see John Engmann going high for a line-out, Cillian Cooke delivering a massive hit and Andrew Gore-Grimes about to! Patrick Devlin and Fionán were amongst the try-scorers. And the JCT had a great league win against Belvedere College, 36-15. Richard ‘Killah’ Caldwell touched down for a superb try amidst a superb team performance and all the boys were in fine voice and mood afterwards in the locker-room.
As you can see in the news items below, St. Conleth’s sports is thriving on the basketball courts, running tracks and in our fencing arenas… but we shall never forget our sporting bread and butter: rugby. And though we have been faithfully tweeting away about our accomplishments with the oblong ball, we thought we would bring it altogether as the teams enter their stretch run.
The SCT have had a tough year regarding numbers but Coach Gav Maguire, Captain Rían Lawlor and his loyal teammates have weathered the tough times with heart and style, doing particularly well in the 7s competitions. Earlier in the year, Gav’s club, Wanderers FC, marked their 150th season with a friendly at the Aviva and two Past Pupils, Mark 0’Reilly and Kevin Dolan, lined up against Trinity for the first team, showing of what quality Conlethian ruggers are capable.
The JCT, led by Head of Junior Rugby Louis Magee, have had plenty regarding numbers and even though they are quite a young team, the success this year bodes well for even greater things ahead. The JCT suffered a tough loss in Wicklow early in the season but showed plenty of spirit, camaraderie and promise as the boys mounted a second half comeback. Better results soon arrived such as a thrilling 24-21 win over St. Gerard’s in the league with a last gasp try from Michael O’Donnell, who scored three tries on the day and was backed by a great team performance. Team workouts in the Fitness Suite with Adam have certainly helped. The competition for places is fierce and Coach Magee is confident of finishing strongly.
The JCT members will certainly not get to comfortable, with some very impressive First Year players nipping at their heels. Coaches Smyth and Morris have built up quite an impressive resume already with the boys, including an early tight but exciting win over Marian College, 59-51; two wins out of three in a blitz kindly hosted by Sandford in Monkstown RC with St. Paul’s and Marian taking part; winning narrowly, 21-14, over local rivals St. Michael’s, in an entertaining match; and convincingly, 42-7, against Sandford Park. And above you see action from a recent, stunning 24-19 win over St. Paul’s. The boys have now adopted a new team nickname, “The Crazy Gang”, and we look forward to more fun as well as success from them in the weeks and seasons to come!
All that fencing, debating and chess is great, but let us not forget that we still play rugby at St. Conleth’s…. and we do it darned well! A parent reports back on the latest Junior School Rugby adventure, complete with some great photos:
Continuing the Junior School’s strong performance in rugby this year, Mr. O’Brien led Third Form to claim victory over Willow Park last Saturday, despite the biting strong winds. Well done to all the team in their first year of representing St. Conleths in Junior School Rugby!
We have to be honest: reporting about our First Year Rugby victories was starting to get a bit repetitive and onerous (they being so many in number!) so we jumped the gun recently in announcing the Naas match as the boys’ last of the season. Well, now it’s really over! The First Years closed out their glorious season with a victory in a Leinster-sanctioned De La Salle Palmerston Football Club Rugby 7s tournament, winning the final against a talented De La Salle- Churchtown team. Well done to all the teams involved and we look forward to meeting again in future battles as these promising youngsters grow and develop.
We have made the comparisons before and we stand by them: the 2018-2019 First Year Rugby is so good that it merits being talked about in those hallowed tones usually reserved for past golden years like the SCTs of 2016, 2008, 2000 and a few that Mr. Keenan would have to tell you about. Judging by the way the team is ending its season, we may very well be talking similarly someday about the boys of ’24. Of course, there is a way to go before that happens and we have seen great promise melt away before but but there is something about the spirit and unity which Coaches Magee, Smyth and O’Brien have welded into this group that makes us believe that we are indeed on the cusp of another golden age for St. Conleth’s Rugby.
Coach Magee reports back about the team’s next-to-last match of the season:
The First Years expanded their rugby footprint to Naas Rugby club yesterday where they played Naas Community College in a number of matches. It was also a chance for the school to build new relations with ex-Conleths teacher Mr. Ronan Bolger’s new school. St. Conleths College came away as victors in a fantastic show of energy, fun and sportsmanship from both schools.
The 2019 SCT bowed out nobly in the Leinster Schools McMullen Senior Cup Semifinal versus Gormanston College this past week. It was a spirited effort from both the younger members of the team and the graduating Sixth Years. Fifth Year Rian Lawlor and Fourth Year Nicholas Cunningham-Ash both scored impressive tries, while Fifth Years Oscar O’Luain and Michael Cook were making scintillating runs and cuts all over the pitch and Liam Reilly kicked strongly through a howling wind, showing that there is plenty of promise going forward. The Sixth Year players gave it their all in their last competitive match in the green and black: Captain Dylan was immense in defence; Hugh did not ‘touch down’ but was dogged in the scrum; Rory and Kealan were jinking and jiving as is their wont; Tom Finn was sparkling in his return from injury and Johnny Barry was his usual selfless self. Unfortunately, Jonathan Dillon came off injured, but it only emphasised what a passionate and loyal servant of St. Conleth’s Rugby Jonathan has been since his time in the Junior School. Head Coach Gav Maguire is immensely proud of him and of all of this cohort’s accomplishments.
Our First Year Rugby Team reminded us all that St. Conleth’s is still a rugby school and that they too can, at least momentarily, stop killing each other to pose for a photo! The latest win in a season-long win streak was a tight one over St. Andrews College 49-44. Coaches Magee and Smith are justly proud of their charges, who stepped it up significantly for this match, playing against a team which was pulled from a much larger school and pool of players. Apparently, Andrew’s started their ‘B’ team but quickly learned that St. Conleth’s are no longer pushovers and the substitution of studs bearing ominous nicknames began… not that it did them much good! Two more matches to go! Enjoy the team pick from yesterday below, as well as some action photos from earlier in the year.
Magic Boots! Below you see our winners in the Junior School’s aforementioned ‘Johnny Sexton Legendary Drop Goal Boots Competition’. Maybe Johnny should have borrowed them back for Saturday’s match against the auld enemy? Ah well, you can’t win them all… Still, our Juniors were proud to be part of one of the most memorable moments in Irish sports history, as well as to help out with a good cause.
Where were you when it happened? Yes, when you are old and grey and the memories are starting to fade there will be at least one etched forever in your sporting (and national) pride. Johnny Sexton’s drop goal at the death vs. France in the Six Nations will be played again and again and again until the rising seas short circuit all our screens. And somehow, I think, Johnny just will not let that happen either. Let us do our part:
But the story gets better. Johnny donated the famous footwear for auction to help a very sick girl and a certain St. Conleth’s family ended up with the prized bootikins. And this family loaned the hallowed hoofers to the school! Mr. Kilcommons then organised an interesting competition: one of our sports hall’s basketball hoops was festooned with said stilettos and all the Juniors had the chance to kick a hole-in-on, so to speak. Everyone had go, and the crack was mighty, with one particularly skilled booter being carried off the court by his classmates! Check out the pics below and stay tuned for the individual class winners.
…is the supposed value of a picture but the frequent visitor to these pages knows that we often throw in the thousand words anyways, for good measure! This time, however, we will let the photographs speak for themselves. Our usual TY ace reporters Edwin and Seoyeon were joined by new recruit, Adam Rafter, and he proved a quick learner as he traipsed around the various sporting venues, snapping away with his usual good humour, despite having just roused himself from his sickbed . The events themselves were a trifecta of moral victories but actual losses: our JCT went down to Blackrock College (yes, that Blackrock College!) but put up a darn good fight; our Senior Hockey girls lost to Louth powerhouse Dundalk Grammar; and our U16 Boys Basketball team was edged out in the SDBL Semifinal by perennial foreign student-enhanced powers, St. Andrew’s. Three losses yes, but all against top-notch competition, and there is more to come in each sport as the JCT face the rugged farm-boys of Ardee (pronounced ‘AR-deeeee’) in the Duff Shield quarters; the Minor Hockey team is steaming into the post-season; and the U19 Boys have a SDBL Semifinal vs. St. Andrew’s later this week. We feel that… oh yes, enough said. Now, the photos!
Our First Year Rugby team is making history with their season-long unbeaten run and our JCT recently joined the party with an emphatic Shield win, but their elder brethren, the SCT, also have every reason to walk the hallways of St. Conleth’s with heads held high. Coach Gavin Maguire and his coaching staff have the SCT playing with spirit, style and success despite a devastating number of injuries this season. They recently went on a four game winning streak, only ending with a tough loss to Templeogue in the Shield (photos below), quite an accomplishment for a squad that may be small in number but is undoubtedly great in heart.
After a tough, close loss in the Cup, we knew anyone facing our Junior Cup Team would have their hands full, as Coach Louis Magee has assembled a close-knit and spirited group of talented players and they certainly had more in the tank. And we were right, as the JCT had a great win yesterday in the Duff Shield beating St. Paul’s- Raheny 55-7. There were some very impressive individual performances with Andre O’Brien scoring a hat-trick of tries, Darrach Smyth and Conor Hyland touching down a brace each and Second Year Lucas Engmann striding the pitch like a collossus, scattering the mere mortals of St. Paul’s like so many toy figurines. Unfortunately one of our other stars, the fleet-footed and tough-tackling Daniel Weatherley, was forced off with an injury and will be out for some weeks. Afterwards, Coach Louis stressed the great overall team effort. The team’s undoubted unity and camaraderie will help them deal with the loss of such a key player as Daniel. On to the next round!
Louis Magee, St. Conleth’s Head of Junior Rugby, had his troops well prepared for this derby-like Cup clash with near neighbours Sandford Park and the boys brought all that training and skills development to bear during the match and left nothing on the pitch. Led by Captain Conor Hyland and with significant contributions from Morton Ainscough (19 points), the all-around excellence of Darrach Smyth and strong scrum-half play of newcomer William Norse, St. Conleth’s battling all over the field. In the end, however, and by the tightest of margins (27-24), our JCT had to leave the field and exit the competition, though with heads held high.
The next day the ball bounces differently, or the knock-on call goes the other way, and St. Conleth’s enjoys the victory: yesterday was just not that day, and Sandford Park moves on. Judging by the spirit and comaraderie evident on the day, St. Conleth’s has plenty left in the tank and whether it is League, Shield or friendlies, no-one is going to enjoy coming up against this fierce band of brothers. Louis has reinvigorated the Junior Rugby ranks at St. Conleth’s, and with an immensely talented gang of First Years growing in size and skill week-by-week, we see great things ahead for this JCT in the months and years to come. Just think: one of Louis’s toughest jobs each week is making up the team sheet as there are so many eager and deserving players. Yes, tough decisions have to be made and no-one is happy riding the bench, but the numbers and the enthusiasm bode well for the future of St. Conleth’s rugby.
With our JCT campaign kicking off today, it is good time to recall the essential role St. Conleth’s has played in the development of Leinster Schools Rugby… and to make one significant addition to our Leinster roll of honour. The latter, first: Nicholas Cunningham-Ash has been the starting No. 8 for the Leinster ‘Metros’ throughout the different rounds of the Bank of Ireland Shane Horgan Cup; the most recent match taking place on Halloween. It is a great honour for the immensely talented (and the impeccably mannered) Nicholas and he follows in a proud Conlethian tradition of sending our best players to play for their province or other selective teams. Nicholas now takes his place in a pantheon of Conlethian legends such as Ronan Cullen, Peter McAvock, Karl Finnegan, Kevin Dolan and Conor Gaul.
Of course, St. Conleth’s contributions to Leinster Rugby goes beyond providing stand-out players. A recent Leinster Match Programme detailed the pivotal role played by Paul Mullins in setting up the inter provisional dimension of the Schools ‘Section A’ and the contributions of many Conlethian coaches over the years. That would include Shay Keenan and Gavin Maguire, whose heroic holding high of the Section A Shield while being carted off the pitch on a stretcher remains burned on the retinas of all who were privileged to be there. And need we even mention the absolutely central role Mr. Kevin Kelleher played in Leinster Schools Rugby over the years? The Inter-Provincial Trophy now proudly bears his name, but references to Mr. K.’s influence and legend are made weekly on touchlines and in locker-rooms up and down the province. Ms. Sheppard was recently called on to present the trophy in his honour, with one of the recipients being a Junior School past pupil, no less!
Winning is obviously infectious. Our First Year Rugby Team continued its record-setting start to the season with a blitz win at the High School and then a comprehensive whomping of Marian College 59-15, in the salubrious setting of the Aviva Stadium, no less! But this victory virus has also spread to our other teams: the SCT enjoyed a solid Leinster League victory last week, led by our very large Rugby Captain, Dylan Browne, and the gory old-school heroics of Johnny ‘Rambo’ Barry. Then the Sixth Form team joined the fun with a 13-1 win over St. Michael’s over the weekend. So, yes we applaud the successes of our hockey players, debaters and fencers, but let us not forget: St. Conleth’s ‘bread and butter’ is still rugby. Of course, that would be a sourdough loaf from Marco Pierre White’s, topped by butter which is hand-churned and organic!
Will the Class of 2024 SCT rival the of the legendary, record-setting team of 2016? Well, the First Year rugby teams are off to a good start: winning again, beating Sandford Park with strong performances from numbers 1-15, as well as off the bench. Well done to coaches Ciarán Smith, John O’Brien and David Pogatchnik and Head of Junior Rugby, Louis Magee. Below you see a team photo, as well as the boys warming up, and some pics of the behind-the-scenes work which is essential for a successful rugby system: all-years training and bonding sessions, classroom talks and tactics and our coaches completing a ‘safe rugby’ certification. HOS Gavin Maguire is justly proud of his coaches and players.
We have decided that last Wednesday’s stunning start to the St. Conleth’s rugby season, with First Years winning all three matches, deserves a bit more attention! Head of Junior Rugby Louis Magee (and Celestial King of All Sport Gavin Maguire) must be very proud of their First Year players and coaches (Messrs. O’Brien, Smith and Pogatchnick), indeed. In the annals of St. Conleth’s Rugby History, rarely have we seen a rugby team begin with such chutzpah and bravado in the locker-room… and then actually back it up on the pitch! The participation rate, particularly in First Year, was almost 100% and we encourage the boys to keep turning out. Everyone played their part, but below we see some of the leading try-scorers (mind you, only some of them): Russell Bolger, Harry Cooper-Reid, Matthew O’Leary, Luke O’Keefe, Luke Timlin and Daniel Fagan. Alumni might recognise some of the names: Matthew is the little brother of Ryan (the famous scholar athlete of the Class of 2015) and Harry is the cousin of Myles (the famous entrepreneur of the Class of 2011 ), proving that there is something special in that Conlethian blood! The coaches were also thrilled to see so many parents on the touch-lines. If we keep up the support and the training attendance, these boys can go places!
What would you give to spend a few glorious days and sleepless nights with over sixty tweeners in beautiful Barcelona? Well, the St. Conleth’s staff have a rigorous testing and competition regime in place to select the right teachers for the privilege of chaperoning on school trips and those who ‘win’ are always the object of much jealousy…. and a considerable amount of PTSD therapy upon their return. This time, intrepid adventurer Gav Maguire led a decidedly sporty team, made up of Ms. deBhal, Ms. Speller, Ms. Wafer, Mr. Magee and Mr. Robertson. As soon as they are out of quarantine and the debriefing process, we will ask for their impressions, but in the meantime, see what First Year Colman Hegarty and Second Year Joymarita Rajinikanth thought of it all:
During late March, 1st and 2nd year went on a weekend trip to Barcelona. After a smooth trip across the sea, we hopped on a bus for a great trip around the city, stopping at the 1992 Olympic
stadium, the Sagrada Família and la playa. We went to the hostel for dinner and the
next day we were off to Porta Ventura. We tried all the rides and got the coach back to
the hostel. On Saturday the weather was not cooperative but we had a great rugby
masterclass as the girls went shopping. Sadly we ended up playing much older players
in our match but we still played a great game. The next day we played our second match and once again were outclassed but the girls had a fun masterclass. We made to the airport and on our flight in no time. Gavin, Louis, Ms Speller, Lydia and Shane all were amazing at organizing and keeping everyone in check.
I don’t think any of us expected there to be a time in our lives where we’d wake up at 3am on a cold Thursday morning to put on our school tracksuits, without complaint, and be excited about it. None-the-less, that’s exactly what we ended up doing, to our surprise and that of our parents. Between the buzz of being with our friends and the coffee which many of us had downed on the way to the airport, it was safe to say that the teachers didn’t have a fun time getting us through security. I think the only time the teachers where able to get us all to shut up was when we were finally on the plane and the lack of sleep finally hit us! But, unfortunately for them, it was back to chaos again once we hit Spanish soil. The warmth only seemed to amplify our babble, if anything. How the teachers were able to get through the trip without going bonkers, is beyond me. (Ed.’s note: statement yet to be verified.)
I’m pretty sure the tour guides – who, despite all the mindless chatter, managed to drill a bit of history and culture into our heads – were counting the seconds till they could depart all the noise. But, though they might not admit it, I could have sworn they were hesitant to leave the company of us, Conlethians, in all our friendly glory. The rest of that day consisted of thrilled remarks as we toured Newcamp Stadium – most of them coming from the boys -, messy unpacking, groans at the thought of dinner and victory dances at bowling alleys.
It was an experience none of us will ever forget, to say the least 🙂
Tweet it. Snapchat it. Instagram it. Go ahead. But it really isn’t necessary. This day, this match was not one of those all too common moments of interest which are instantly captured, ridiculously magnified and granted a spectacular but ephemeral glory- forgotten when someone posts an animal doing something cute or a person doing something stupid. This day, for Gav Maguire and his SCT, and for the whole St. Conleth’s community, past and present, will take a proud and pre-eminent place in the memory, impervious to the vagaries of our contemporary, attention deficit culture.
We will do our best, but there were just too many memorable moments to capture or mention: The calm but determined visages of the boys as they prepared for the biggest battle of their lives…. Gav and Michael Hassett, hovering on the sidelines like Mercedes engineers at the assembly plant, fine-tuning their rugby-playing machines… Brendan Connor, Sean Bortolozzo, Finn Mulcahy and Colin Duffy scoring scintillating tries… The incredible support of students, staff, parents and alumni- taking Donnybrook Stadium away from the big boys of rugby, for at least one day… Ben Doggett kicking conversions from angles which even Paddy and Simon could not measure with their ever-present Maths Sets… And perhaps most tellingly in regards to the care and concern with which Gav has moulded both the skills and the morals of these young men, Captain Kevin Dolan repeatedly and flawlessly leading his team like a mobile colossus up and down the pitch, but straying several yards offside in the waning moments to to help up a fallen opponent, overcome by the enormity of his defeat. We will let the pictures tell a bit more of the story, but if you were there you don’t really need them to remember one of the proudest days in St. Conleth’s history.
The rugby world has taken notice: Gav Maguire’s SCT are a force with which to be reckoned as the pitches of Leinster are littered with the spent hulks of supposed rugby powers which have been left by the wayside on this glorious and historic march to the McMullen Cup Final. The Leinster Illuminati will be there (Read their preview official preview here). Mr. Kelleher will be there, taking attendance. You need to be there, too! 3:00 kick-off at Donnybrook Stadium, this Tuesday, the 23rd. All the current Conlethians will be out in force, and we are calling on parents and alumni to join us.
It was 1986 when St. Conleeth’s last won this cup. It was not a great year for music, with Chris de Burgh ruling the Irish charts and ‘Mr. Mister’ placing three songs in the year-end American top ten. But there was some inspiration deeper in the charts that year, as St. Conleth’s SCT hit their opponents like a ‘sledgehammer’ and the team’s movement on the pitch was ‘like a chain reaction’, leaving their fans on ‘the edge of heaven’ and ‘taking their breath away’. The 2016 version will have their own chosen tunes pumping through their Beats as they get psyched for the biggest match of their lives. Do not be mistaken. This is it. ‘The Final Countdown’ starts now!
Somewhere back in the mists of time, Mr. Kelleher hopped on his bike in Drumcondra and, dodging trams, trollies and traps, crossed the Liffey in record time. He arrived at 28 Clyde Road with quite a sporting pedigree in his back pocket, with both the oblong and the round ball, and he quickly set about transforming the rugby fortunes of St. Coneth’s. The cricket and rather polite tug-of-war (it was more of a firm pull than a tug) in the garden stayed around for a while, but Mr. K charted and supervised a course of progress which mirrored his own meteoric ascent in both playing and administering for Lansdowne RFC. Some 70 years later, Mr. K can now look on proudly as Head of Sport Gavin Maguire takes the field with his SCT, and teams from Glendalough to Skerries know that the team to beat in Leinster A (and even B!) is St. Conleth’s. There have been both bright and dark days in between, with Coach Emeritus Shay Keenan somehow keeping the programme rucking forward, and now Conlethians routinely take the pitch with silverware on the line. Gav’s boys made it to the League Final last year in Donnybrook, and though they lost, a young SCT was battle-hardened by the experience and their unbeaten start to this season reflects a both a maturity which is both physical and mental and bodes well for the more meaningful matches ahead. Our JCT and First and Second year teams have had a tougher time of late, but coaches Bolger and Lonergan can point to Dolan, Doggett, Ghose et al and the youngsters can take heart, knowing they, too, will soon be playing for plates, shields and cups!