We had a pretty hectic- and successful- close to the half term, sporting wise, at St. Conleth’s. We are still searching up more film of the already legendary First Year Boys Basketball win detailed below, but there have been several more chapters added to the St. Conleth’s Book of Sporting Lore in the short time since that winning basket snapped the net. Some of the very same boys took part in another ‘Heart Attack Kids’ special: after their stunning B-Ball heroics, the First year Boys boys followed it up on the rugby pitch against Sandford Park, winning on a last minute try by Christopher Comer in the corner, after Noah Dwan had made a great break, juggled the ball, caught it again, and zipped the killer pass! The First Year Basketball Girls may not have matched the boys for drama in their debut game but they pushed a Woodlands Academy Second Year Team all the way, showing much promise and great team spirit… and much better ability than the boys in posing for an orderly team photo! And there was another close loss (0-1) to a tough, classy opponent (Dundalk Grammar) but the Senior Hockey Girls have kept their heads, and smiles, up…. and they are still drawing the fans!
With a nascent GAA movement amongst the girls and tennis matches happening across the years, St. Conleth’s College Head of Sport Ciarán Smith has his hands full but that does not make him forget the school’s first and truest love: rugby. Here, he reports himself on an event that wrapped up rugby activities with a suitable flourish.
Our St. Conleth’s Rugby players welcomed boys and girls from Colégio Pedro Arrupe, a school based in Lisbon. They travelled as part of a rugby tour and brought students across the 11-18 years age range. CPA are a small but growing rugby school in Lisbon and a passionate one. They showed tremendous courage and some excellent skills throughout all ages. And our guys were brilliant host, and showing excellent hospitality towards the students. They welcomed them with open arms… except when tackling them in the sessions, scrimmages and matches! The three ‘official’ matches resulted in a draw, with a mixture of 15 a side games for the 1st Years and JCTs. Our Seniors played 7s against the Portuguese counterparts in some excellent matches. To top it all off, players from both sides enjoyed burgers and drinks served up by Chefs Mark and Emerson. A small presentation followed as their captains presented our Senior Captain Daniel Weatherly with some memorabilia from their school. It was a fantastic day organised by Gav Maguire, who unfortunately missed it, but we ended up with an invitation to visit Lisbon with our rugby players and go for a rematch!
Some things are bigger than the game. Mt. Temple showed their sportsmanship and sheer class by presenting St. Conleth’s First Year Rugby team with a jersey in honour of our Past Pupil Pierre Zakrzewski. Both teams observed a minute of silence before a well-played, spirited match, which St. Conleth’s won 26-5.
And on a day that showcased our rising young rugby talent, we also saw that our old warriors still had plenty of fight in them. Orals? Mocks? Practicals? Not on this day! The only ‘grind’ these brave boys wanted to take on was the fortifying ‘oomph’ of the scrum! Our SCT were edged out by Gonzaga 27-19, but our Sixth Years were once again impressive in their spirited, sporting swansong.
A quick note from HOS Mr. Smyth about the JCT match last Wednesday:
We played Clongowes and won 26-22: a super result with a great display of aggression and resilience. Our boys came up against a side with raucous support from their classmates and experienced the booming chants that would usually be only evident on a Senior Cup day. They prevailed and, with determination, Rian Lawlor powered his way through the Clongowes defence. There were some superb individual performances, especially by Jamie MacNicolas who must have made fifty tackles! Also great to see Fionán Power back bossing the pitch, as he has had such an injury-plagued year. Other superb performers were James Power, Stefi Saroli and ‘Gentleman’ Cillian Cooke but, overall, it was a brilliant team performance. That’s two wins from two in the league!
Louis ‘Hightower’ Magee wears a few hats: mindfulness guru; Head of Junior School PE; proud St. conleth’s parent; roving rugby specialist coach… and Head Coach of the St. Conleth’s SCT. This last job has been a tough but rewarding one this year as the boys have often been outmatched in numbers and size, but never in spirit or heart, and the unity that Louis has inculcated in the squad is evident at every match, no matter what the score. This past week the team lost a tough one to Belverdere but heads did not drop and there were plenty of positives, not least the scintillating play of two Weatherleys, Daniel and Sean, just as lil’ bro’ Ross was lighting up the JCT’s field of play. We do not whether it is the genes or the Weetabix, but we ask Mr. and Mrs. Weatherley to not change a thing about their boy-raring!
Our Sixth Years’ season and Conleth’s career is winding down now, and this is always a bittersweet time- made a good bit sweeter by Louis’s organisation of the purchase of new jerseys for the squad. Yes, our boys may not win every match but they always play with class and style… and are always the best looking team on the pitch!
Yes, St. Conleth’s still plays rugby… and we play it darned well! All that bball and hockey talk must take a backseat as Gav Maguire (Class of 1990) and his JCT are back to winning ways! Here, Gav gives us his spirited match report:
Our JCT got off to winning ways in the Junior Thirds league. With a 41 – 17 win against Belvedere. A great performance by the whole squad with special mention to Ross ‘Whippet’ Weatherly making such a big impact with his first game back since the before Christmas.
James ‘Hightower’ Power was again at his excellent best, with Andrew ‘Grrrrrr…’ Gore Grimes having that finishing touch. The team played some great rugby with moving the ball with width and all players playing a massive part in the victory. ‘Silky’ Stefi Saroli keeps the defences honest with sniping runs around the ruck while also feeding ross with some crisp passes.
The pack is pushed forward by Captain Fantastic (and D4’s most eligible batchelor) Cillian Cooke and with some big ball carries in the like of ‘Rampant’ Rian and ‘Lord’ George and the ‘Twinkle Toes’ Diego, he doesn’t have a hard job.
The team is shaping up nicely and are displaying nice attacking rugby with some great skills. The coaches ‘Sagacious’ Smith and ‘Never Say Die’ Nugent have put in some great work with the squad and it’s paying dividends!
There were two stirring Rugby Cup matches for St. Conleth’s this past week, and both conveyed the same message: the boys in black and green are talented, committed and spirited and all opponents, no matter how big, must be ready to battle to earn every single yard of the pitch. The SCT fought bravely against the big boys of Good Counsel- New Ross, losing 14-5 but earning plaudits from the coaches, opponents and the ref. It was a real team effort, with our well-honed skill set trumping the opponents’ brawn and accomplishing a complete domination of territory in the second half but, alas, we could net get over the line.
The JCT were inspired by their older brothers and came out thumping against the ‘Auld Enemy’, St. Columba’s. It was a real team effort, and when star player Fionán went off early injured, we knew his teammates would respond with gusto. Stefi scored a scintillating try and super sub Diego came off the bench to cut stylish swathes through the opposing defence. In the end it was 17-12 to St. Conleth’s and we look forward to the next round. Well done to Coaches Mr. Smyth and Louis Magee, Assistant Gav Maguire and the whole staff!
We mentioned below how the St. Conleth’s rugby and hockey teams have hit the ground running, and we are soon to hear from the basketball teams, too, but sport at St. Conleth’s involves a lot more than the extramural teams. In fact, winning matches is great, but we are probably even prouder that all our students are encouraged to enjoy physical education and sport of the more everyday kind: in classes with Mr. Lonergan and the other PE teachers, at training sessions with the various coaches, on ‘Wellbeing’ brisk walks and even at break-time in the yard. Here are just a few snaps of what is going on at St. Conleth’s everyday, in a sporting way:
1) Shay Keenan, St. Conleth’s Games Master/Coach/Absolute Legend, gets the Sixth Year soccer boys lined up for a proper team photo at the grand re-opening of the Herbert Park Astro. They look great: a shame they will be crushed by the Staff Team in May!
2-3) Both the Transition Year girls and the boys get the opportunity to help improve St. Conleth’s sporting acumen. The girls are great helping Ms. Leary coach the Juniors… and the boys get to do Gav’s laundry!
4) Coaches Ingle and Gahan get the Basketball girls ready for the season, which is just about to tip off!
Art School? Music School? Debating School? Yes, we could be classified as any, or all, of those but maybe we need to reconsider and re-market ourselves…. as the neighbourhood jocks! So, stand aside when the boys and girls in black, yellow and green come sauntering into the DART station- we want that space to flex and pose, and we will have it! Okay… not very likely: our students are too mannerly to strut and strop like that, but we would have every right to! Just look at our recent results and add three more wins from Wednesday. Coach Speller’s Junior Hockey girls squeaked past St. Raphaela’s 1-0 in a close match, with Isabella Donlon assisting on Roisín Ingle’s goal and the rugby teams won the double over Newpark, with both the JCT and First Years winning close, fairly fought games. We certainly don’t want to lose our reputation for our creativity and intellect, but it is not bad being the big boys (and girls) on campus, too!
Now, we are not saying that the SCT headed into their first match of the season as absolute underdogs as the European Ryder Cup Team when they faced off against the stronger, more accurate, louder, more handsome and trimmer USA team but we were facing Templeogue, a much bigger school and one with quite a rugby pedigree. But Coaches Louis, Ger and Callum and the boys were certainly not intimidated and they all hit their tackles, ran their lines and heaved their scrums with the enthusiasm, if not quite the mass, of Shane Lowry. The boys kept it very close, with Luke O’Keeffe providing a spark off the bench, and climbed within two points before it got away. Overall, a good, hard-fought match and, with quite a young, a harbinger for better days to come.
The Junior Girls Hockey Team also earned a moral victory with their 2-2 draw with Sandford Park. Juliet Donnelly found the net twice with stylish goals but it was a real, strong team effort, with girls from different years melding together into a true team effort. Coaches Helen Speller and Jules Dale were thrilled with the progress shown. All that summer training is paying off! Particularly impressive was Leinster-chosen Lucy McGoldrick in goals, repeatedly stymying the opposition with stunning saves.
If anyone had the ‘pleasure’ of supervising First Years at lunchtime last year knows, the boys and girls have a lot of energy and enthusiasm, especially of the running around and running into each other kind: perfectly normal and normally to be encouraged. but potentially bubonic during plague times. Keeping rats on a sinking ship is easier than maintaining social distance amongst this crowd! Well, they all survived and now with the return of after-school sport, the now Second Years have been given full reign to go out and run in to things- like the St. Michael’s rugby players, for instance. To be fair, the Michael’s boys made the first rugby match of the season a close-run affair, but with the might and bulk of players like Rían Wickham and Paul Jackson and the slashing moves of Ross Weatherley, the Kirwan Bros. and Diego O’Reilly, the Conleth’s boys were able to nip it in the end, chalking up a win under then guidance of Head of Sport Ciaran Smith and his coaching team. Now, hopefully we will get a more sedate crowd at lunchtime!
Finally! Yes, the new gods have issued their decrees and the children can be children again! We have already seen how Louis has kept the Junior pupils moving, and how Mr. Lonergan has persisted with PE despite the mind-forged manacles, but now after-school sport is back, too, and back with a bang! Mr. Smyth, Head of Senior Sport, supervised as Coaches Speller, Morris, Sheridan, O’Brien and Maguire gathered the willing troops and retook the local fields and pitches. At first it was a bit awkward, understandably after months of distancing, dawdling and doodling, but with a few kicks of the ball, a few shots with the stick and the rising, life-renewing scent of wet grass, the kids (and the coaches) were back where they belong, as if they never left!
And to honour this historic restart, Mr. ‘Gav’ Maguire unveiled the latest evidence of his deep ties with the inner circle of Irish rugby, somehow getting the Leinster senior team to sign our JCT jersey!
January 8th, 2016. Covid can’t take away our memories or our hopes for the future. TY Eric Lawless recalls one of the greatest games in St. Conleth’s rugby history and certainly the greatest touchline celebration!
Vinnie Murray Cup: Conleth’s v Castleknock
Match Report by Eric Lawless
Castleknock: Cathal Lacey (15), Andrew Hobson (14), Sean Gibbons (13), Jamie McGaly (12), Nico Eastmond (11), Patrick Murtagh (10), Josh Conolly (9), Carl Keogh (1), Michael Corcoran (2), Gavin Murray (3), Jack Horgan (4), Conor Stinson (5), Darragh McNally (6), Cathal Bermingham (7)(C), Cian Clancy (8)
Conleth’s: Michael McKay (15), Sean Bortolozzo (14), Ross Murphy (13), Nicolas Foreau (12), Finn Mulcahy(11), Ben Doggett (10), David McKeown (9), Robert Cripwell (1), Colin Duffy (2), Mati Remi (3), Cameron Ross-O’Reilly (4), Patrick Cahill (5), Brendan Connor (6), David Pogatchnik (7), Kevin Dolan (8)(C)
This clash between Conleth’s and Castleknock in the Vinnie Murray Cup was a fantastic game of rugby and a great show of talent throughout the 82 minutes. The first half was very defensive from both sides, with very few missed tackles. With no points scored halfway through the first half, defenses were beginning to buckle and it was the Castleknock side that went first. At 22 minutes past the first whistle, David Pogatchnik received the ball 10 metres out and beat two defenders for a fantastic finish. With an amazing conversion from Ben Doggett, the score was 7-0 and the Conleth’s crowd was roaring.
Castleknock were quick to retaliate though and a scrum was given on the Conleth’s 10 for an unfortunate knock-on. Cathal Bermingham picked from the scrum and went to the blind side. With good hands out to the wing and a few nice steps from Andrew Hobson, Castleknock scored a beautiful try. With the Castleknock 7 Cathal Bermingham knocking over 2 points, the game was now even with 10 minutes to go until half time. Conleth’s became more aggressive in attack and marched from their 22 to the opposite end. They were close to the 5 metre line when there was a deliberate knock-on. A penalty was awarded and Ben Doggett put another 3 up on the scoreboard.
Both teams took turns in attacking: no-one able to break through. A few penalties conceded by Conleth’s put Castleknock with a lineout on the Conleth’s 22. They came close but an overudged chip from Sean Gibbons closed out the half, the score being 10-7 to Conleth’s.
With just two minutes gone since the start of the second half, Castleknock had drawn up the game with a penalty under the sticks kicked by Bermingham. Conleth’s did not like losing their lead and attacked again and again until their captain Kevin Dolan made an exceptional break on the Castleknock 10, but was forced to offload to his back row partner Connor, who gave it to Nicolas Foreau for a wonderful try. Another exceptional conversion from Doggett and 17-10 was the score with 25 minutes to go.
Castleknock fired back their response with a try created by the pack. Brute force brought replacement prop Gibney over the try line for another 5 points, with the chance to make it 7 missed by Bermingham. Conleth’s quickly drove back, claiming the restart and moving the ball from wing to wing. A high tackle from Gibney on Brendan Connor. A penalty was awarded and in his usual fashion, Ben Doggett knocked over another three making the score 20-15 to Conleth’s.
Unfortunately, it seems Conleth’s took their foot off the pedal for a bit and Castleknock did not need an invitation to capitalise on this. They charged with determination from a lineout on the Conleth’s side of the pitch. A few gaps and a lovely break from Gibney put them on the 5 metre line, where the forwards drove over and Bermingham dotted it down on the line. Bermingham’s conversion put Castleknock in the lead. Again Conleth’s drove back against this lead, not letting their heads hang whatsoever. They gained possession and smashed the Castleknock defense. A beautiful skip pass from Doggett put Ross Murphy into a lot of space and he came just short of the 5 metre line. From there it was up to the pack. They inched towards that try line and eventually, Cripwell got it down. A very tough angle for Doggett’s conversion and Donnybrook stadium fell to a complete silence. Unfortunately he pulled the kick and the opportunity to be an unconverted try ahead was missed.
There were only 3 points in it with 10 minutes to go. Conleth’s were awarded a penalty on the 10 with just 6 minutes to go. A kick to touch and they were on the 5 meter with a lineout. But the Castleknock defence was having none of it. They piled into the rucks and regained possession. An unfortunate injury from Sean Gibbons and a scrum to Castleknock. A penalty for Castleknock from the scrum and they were full steam ahead. The Conleth’s defence was under pressure, another two penalties were given just before and after the halfway line. Castleknock decided on a scrum and shifted the ball out wide going from wing to wing. They were getting advantages for offside and hands in the ruck. A full penalty was awarded just short of the Conleth’s 5 for a deliberate knock-on and Castleknock took a quick tap and go, catching the Conlethians by surprise. Good hands out to winger Andrew Hobson and at 82 minutes, Castleknock won the game by 2. No conversion needed. The end score was 27-25.
All of the players that took part played well but the players that stood out were Ben Doggett for his exceptional goal kicking and command in the midfield; the flanker partnership of Pogatchnik and Connor for their strong running; Andrew Hobson for his agility and finishing and Cathal Birmingham for his strength, goalkicking and command in the pack. This intensely close game was brilliantly played by both teams, with a lot of flair and strength shown, but ultimately it was an unfortunate but proud day for Conleth’s.
Louis Magee, a friendly giant but tough training taskmaster, has added to his already formidable duties as Head of Junior Rugby in the Senior School and Director of Junior School Sports and PE (we are still looking for a suitable acronym!) by taking on Twitter duties (@StConlethsSport) for all things sporty at St. Conleth’s. As committed free marketeers, we welcome the competition and the camaraderie! Here we see Louis’s first tweets and a pre-covid example of his ability to foster team spirit and unity.
At a special SCT training session, Junior School Past Pupil Callum Dowling joined Coaches Louis and Mr. Morris to pass on some of the skills he learned playing at the highest of schoolboy and Leinster youth levels. Callum was the Senior Cup captain of Clongowes Wood, who reached the final of the Senior Cup this past year, only for Covid to stop the match being played. Callum has also been involved with the Leinster U20’s. The coaches and the team were delighted to have a player of his calibre join them. Of course, every week, all our rugby teams benefit from the expertise of Past Pupils Luke McCay and Gavin Nugent. Below you see our coaches and players at that training session, as well as a snap of one of Callum’s past days of glory. Notic the name on the trophy!
Yes, afterschool sport is back at St. Conleth’s Senior School! Only rugby and hockey for now, but it a welcome start to a return to normality for our school community. We have noticed that for all the success and many positives of our ‘coping with covid’ existence, many students noticeably missed the exercise, competition and camaraderie of organised school sport. Mr. Smyth, our Head of Sport, gives all the details:
We are delighted to announce that After-School Sports Rugby and Hockey are returning this week. At the minute we can only have training sessions in small groups but all the coaches have plans in place to make sure we are following the guidelines set out by the Government. Students will remain in the same groups that are set out their coaches for the coming weeks so mixing between students will be at a minimum.
With regard to Covid and training, it is imperative that all students who attend training follow the instructions set out by the coaches. There will be a very strict policy in place with regard to behaviour and if a student is in breach of any instructions regarding behaviour or Covid guidelines, they will not be allowed to train for the rest of the School year.
2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th & 6th year girls will be training in Pembroke Hockey Club on Tuesdays (4-5pm), Wednesdays (1:30-2:30pm) and Thursdays (4-5pm). Please make sure students are collected on time unless they are travelling home by foot, bicycle, bus or train.
2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th & 6th year boys will be training in Wanderers Rugby Club on Mondays (4-5pm), Wednesdays (1:20-2:20pm) and Friday’s (4-5pm). Please make sure students are collected on time unless they are travelling home by foot, bicycle, bus or train.
If students are unable to attend training, it is up to them to inform the coaches. Students may NOT attend training if they have not in school on that day.
Hopefully we can get back to some sort of normality in the coming weeks but for now, we are delighted to able to get the students training with their classmates, even if it is in small groups.
With regard to other sports, we are monitoring the guidelines set out for each level but for now, all we can allow is Rugby and Hockey. Hopefully we can change that in the not too distant future.
Head of Sports,
St. Conleth’s College
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!