Dominican College, Newbridge and the Lenister Schools' Cups
The long night is nearly over. The heartache and frustration of twenty-six years may come to an end at Lansdowne Road today. A side worthy of the finest traditions of Dominican College, Newbridge prepare to battle with Blackrock for the greatest jewel in Leinster Schools Rugby.
Dominican College have embellished the Schools Cup competition for many years and have provided many glorious memories. Leinster Schools Cup Rugby is about courage, commitment, organisation and skill; and Newbridge boys have contributed all four qualities in abundance.
An injury time penalty, converted by Aidan Baily, deprived the Curragh side led by Ger McDermot of victory in their first final appearance in 1932. Having dominated, through a strong and mobile pack, they led 4-3 when they conceded the penalty to send the Cup down Wicklow way. Disappointment was again to crown their next appearance in the final of 1939. The side captained by Paddy Moran, though they were vanquished 8-0 by 'Rock, were great favourites with spectators whom they entertained and impressed with their vibrant, open attacking rugby. Defeat in the junior final of the same year was to double the disappointment. The 1932 and 1939 teams were coached by Fr Norbert Barry O.P. who is in his nineties and is an active member of the Dominican Community in Newry.
The disappointments of 1932 and 1939 were soon forgotten when underdogs Newbridge, led by skipper and No. 8 Jack Deegan, defeated Roscrea by 9 points to 3 in a replayed final. Roscrea had defeated Newbridge in the Junior Cup final of 1939 and were expected to repeat their success. The victorious side were coached by Fr. Vincent Leahy O.P., a past pupil of the North Monastery in Cork, who is still an active member of the Dominican Community in Newbridge at 89 years of age.
John McGarry's fine side in 1945 were to be the next Newbridge side to appear in the Senior final. They lost to Blackrock. John Heffernan, who as Fr. 'Johno' Heffernan was to coach the victorious side of 1970, was a flanker on John McGarry's team.
Half a decade on in 1950 the Newbridge JCT captured the Junior Cup led by dynamic centre Dominick Colbert. In the final they defeated Blackrock 13-0 having disposed of Terenure 11-3, Pres. Bray 26-0, and Roscrea 8-0 in the earlier rounds. Scrum-half Tony Twomey "contributed two tries audaciously and never once during the game did he send out a faulty pass". At half-time Newbridge led by ten points to nil and whilst they had played fine open rugby in the first half they had to defend for most of the second half and the 'Rock boys tried everything but were stopped by fearless determined tackling. The coach of the J.C.T. was Fr Tom Hegarty O.P. at present in Holy Cross, Tralee.
Fourteen years passed before the College from the edge of the Curragh plains made their next appearance to strive in the final stage of the Senior Trophy. Castleknock vanquished a talented Newbridge side by 11-9 in a game that enthralled and mesmerised all who watched. Newbridge twice found the woodwork with kicks and a last minute penalty from far out went narrowly wide. The heartbreak was greater because most of the same boys had played on the junior side that lost the 1956 final to Blackrock 8-3. Mick Doyle (Ireland and Lions) was a member of that J.C.T. and the vice-captain was Mick Geraghty who was to represent Kildare in County football and become a well-known athlete. Mick Geraghty captained the runners-up in 1959 and they were coached by Fr. Albert O'Beirne O.P. (R.I.P.).
Defeat in the final was again the fate of the 1966 Newbridge S.C.T. They succumbed by 15 points to 6 to a talented St. Mary's XV which included future internationals, the legendary Shay Deering (R.I.P.) and Johnny Moloney. Tom Grace, an Ireland skipper and Lion of the future, inspired a Newbridge XV captained by Gerry O'Doherty.
In 1969 with future internationals, Robbie McGrath and Freddy McLennan as half-backs, and Mick Quinn as full-back, Newbridge led by Clem McInerney (brother of today's coach Greg) were ousted at the semi-final stage by St. Mary's. The final score was 9-8 and Newbridge were considered unfortunate by most observers. However, the lessons learned were absorbed and applied.
The year of triumph for Newbridge was to follow that unlucky defeat. The captain of the XV was Mick Quinn. The coach was Fr. 'Johno' Heffernan O.P. assisted by the Doyle brothers Mick and Tom (Ireland). All four, as well as other members of the XV, had known the heartbreak of final defeats.
A much vaunted and talented 'Rock side were defeated by 19-5. They tore into 'Rock and dominated the first half, soon opening an 11 point gap. On the stroke of half-time 'Rock struck, and a converted try left the half-time score 11-5. Newbridge had to face a gale force wind in the second half but their dominance was such that they extended their lead.
Twenty-six long and frustrating years have followed that great day. Few trophies have come our way in the interim. The Senior Plate was captured in 1986; the team captained by Brian 'Spike' Nolan, and the Junior Plate was won in 1987, captained by Dara Hughes.
At the beginning of this season it was known that Newbridge had a talented side. They proceeded to prove this by winning the Senior League and remaining undefeated. They have worked long and hard. Their coaches and their families have worked hard and made many sacrifices. We wish them luck and victory.
To the panel players and to the 2nd XV we say thank you; also many thanks to Greg, Marie, Aoife, Niamh and Katie; Declan, Marina and Caoimhe, Kevin and Heather.