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!