For two years St Mary’s had been unable to field a senior school team, but in 1969-70 a JCT appeared which seemed to promise an end to the lean_years. There were only about twelve players available for the team, but they made up in team-spirit and enthusiasm, and no little skill, for any deficiencies. As mentioned in the previous chapter on cricket, a number of enthusiastic cricketers from the school joined the under-age ranks of the Leinster C.C., with the encouragement of Fr Frank Barry, and these, who included Rory O’Connor, Derek Bennett, John Quinlan, Gerry Delaney, Frank O’Donnell and Terry Kennedy, formed a core round which a team could be built even in the short season available for cricket. St Paul’s and Sandford Park were accounted for in the Cup before Belvedere capitalised on a number of St Mary’s ‘mistakes’ to come out on top. Gerry Delaney had figures of 6 for 24 and John Quinlan 3 for 14, which would have accounted for most teams, but the batting let St Mary’s down.
Dermot Mc Carthy – Schoolboy International
In 1970-71, played 11 lost 5 drew 6 does not sound like a very fruitful season and yet it was considered as both successful and enjoyable by those who took part in it. Over 100 runs were scored in almost every match. Gerry Delaney and Derek Bennett were chosen for the Leinster Schools against the Leprechauns, while Derek was also chosen for the Interpro against Ulster.
This year the Leinster Branch introduced a Schools League at junior level to supplant the cup competition and sustain interest in cricket over a longer period. For most schools the cricket season, wedged in as it is between the rugby season and public exams, is short enough, but at least a league had the merit of keeping a team in the hunt right up to the end. Also, the matches lasted just one afternoo_n and did not drag on like knock-out cup matches which could go on for days depending on the vagaries of the weather. Gerry Delaney was the captain of the JCT while at the same time one of the mainstays of the SCT. Another Leinster C.C. stalwart, Ciaran Callan, was the vice-captain.
1971-72 was the most satisfactory cricketing season for many years. Early games with Surgeons, West Indians and Leinster put the team under Rory O’Connor in the proper frame of mind, with the result that St Paul’s (9 wickets) and Masonic (7 wickets) and Sandford Park (5 wickets) fell victims to the bowling of Rory O’Connor and Gerry Delaney. However, a strong St Columba’s side put an end to the St Mary’s hopes. Gerry Delaney and Derek Bennett were both chosen to play for Leinster against Ulster ( a game cancelled because of the bad weather). They were also picked for Leinster Schools against the Leprehcauns.
Fr. Barry’s Diary 1976-1984
The school sports hall is now named after Fr. Barry
Fr. Barry Photo diary 76-84
In 1971-72 the JCT, under the captaincy of Neil Smith assisted by Dermot McCarthy, went one better than the previous year when as U-14s they had lost the cup to St Columba’s by just one run. In the Cup, a 20 run victory over Sandford Pk was followed by a surprisingly easy 7 wicket win over Belvedere, for whom nothing went right for a change and nothing wrong for St Mary’s. However. in the very next match, against Gonzaga, nothing went right and St Mary’s lost by 7 wickets. This meant a play-off against Sandford who had an equal number of points.
This was the best match of the season, which St Mary’s won by 6 runs, 88-82. Neil Smith was the man-of-the-match with top score of 27 and bowling figures of 6 for 23. All was in readiness for the final against St Columba’s, who were the kingpins of cricket in those years. St Columba’s won the toss and elected to bat on a perfect Sandford Park wicket, but tragedy struck for them when Neil Smith got their opening bat with his third ball. From that on it was disaster all the way for them and they could only scrape together 36. Smith took 7 for 16. But even 36 runs can be difficult to come by in schools cricket. Derry McCarthy took the brunt of the attack, making an invaluable 17 n.o. to take the St Mary’s score past their rival’s, and the cup was back in Rathmines after an absence of 25 years. Ciaran Cantwell, thus emulated the feat of his father, Sean, who was on the 1948 cup-winning side. The U-14 team did not win the cup but had a record to be proud of, 8 wins out of 11 played, 2 drawn and only one lost. Three players from the previous year were again eligible. They had played on the victorious U-16 Leinster C.C. team. They were: Kevin Egan, Robert McDonnell and Brendan Foley.
1973-74 saw the culmination of all the efforts put into cricket in St Mary’s by Fr Barry and Fr Moloney over the previous five years, during which the school had gone from being unable to field a senior team to winning the Leinster Schools Cup for the first time in 26 years. The team was led by Neil Smith who had captained the JCT two years previously when they had won the Junior Cup. He was assisted by Derry McCarthy once more. In the League Masonic were beaten by 16 runs, King’s Hospital by 5 wickets. The High School left St Mary’s only 90 mins in which to score 118, so they had to settle for a draw. The replay was the best match in the series. High School had the two best bowlers in Leinster, Alan Forde and Ian Burns who later went on to be capped for Ireland at both cricket and rugby. Nevertheless, St Mary’s made a-tidy total of 124. Then excellent bowling by Paul Walsh who finished with figures of 5 for 30, and Neil Smith who took important wickets at crucial junctures, saw St Mary’s through. The final was against Wesley and was played in excellent conditions in Masonic’s grounds. In spite of two run-outs (always a self-inflicted wound in cricket) St Mary’s ran up the respectable score of 90, of which Paul Walsh contributed 54. Neil Smith was again in top form with the ball and took 5 for 18, Paul taking 3 for 27. With a lead of 34 going in to the second innings, St Mary’s batted more confidently to reach 109. Wesley batted without conviction and Paul Healy shared the wickets equally with Neil Smith, both taking 5 for 30. The Leinster Schools Senior Cup returned once more to St Mary’s. Neil Smith was capped for Leinster and Ireland Schools while Derry McCarthy was picked for the Leinster Schools.
1974-75 brought no cricket trophies to Rathmines. The outstanding player on the team, and indeed, in Leinster, was the captain for the second time, Neil Smith, who crowned his year by captaining the Leinster Schools against Ulster and the Leprechauns, by being one of the four Leinster players chosen to tour Holland with an Irish U-19 team (which was captained by ex-St Mary’s Gerry Delaney), and by being chosen on the Irish Schools team to play Wales.
Jonathan Bennett took the U-13 Single Wicket title against all comers.
All of the 1975-76 Senior Cricket Team were members of Leinster C.C. so more was really expected of them than they actually delivered, even though they did reach the final of the League. The final against St Columba’s was played in glorious weather in Leinster CC grounds. St Columba’s won the toss and batted first making 204 for 4 in the stipulated 50 overs. A reply of 98 from overcautious batting (Ray Sloan 30) was simply not good enough. St Columba’s made 172 in their 2nd innings. The St Mary’s opening pair, Delaney and Graham, made 60 and by the tea interval St Mary’s were 121 for 2. Then they lost four wickets in quick succession for the addition of only 11 runs. Philip McDonnell stayed at the wicket till the end which came when St Mary’s reached 171. It was one of the best finals for years, 600 runs scored over the three days. Ray Sloan was picked for Leinster and for the Irish Schools. Hugh Delaney, who was still under 15, was picked for the South Leinster U -19 team.
Players were in short supply even for the JCT, but they succeeded in winning most of their matches. They won their section of the League. Brian Delaney, in his first match in the competition, took 5 wickets for 15 runs. Against St Paul’s, Pat McCarthy and Stephen McDonald did the damage with 6 for 9 and 3 for 9 respectively. The semi-final, against High School, whose bowlers, Henderson and Blair, were the bowlers on the SCT also, was a disaster and St Mary’s managed only 27 runs.
The U-14s could not be faulted either on the score of skill or enthusiasm. Brian Delaney, a regular on the JCT was captain, aided by Jonathan Bennett. Jonathan was undoubtedly the best fast bowler in Leinster, taking 6 for 21 against High School and he also made the biggest score, 63 against St Columba’s. They didn’t win the Cup but the standard in the deciding matches, against King’s Hospital and High School, was very high.
Five of the previous year’s semi-finalists were back in action in 1976-77 and these were reinforced by a group of seven all of whom had played for Leinster CC. Captained by Donal Lonergan with Michael Graham vice-captain, they won their section with wins over Wesley, King’s Hos, St Andrew’s and Sandford Park, all recognised cricketting schools, scoring over 100 runs every game except over King’s Hos. In this match they made 73 but with Philip McDonnell taking 5 catches off the bowling of Donal (6 for 15) they easily dismissed their opponents for 41. The final was played in glorious summer weather in Pembroke grounds against Belvedere, who made 136, to which St Mary’s replied with three quick second innings wickets gave St Mary’s a fillip before close of play, but the following day Belvedere went on to make 183. It looked and was an impossible task but St Mary’s set about the bowling with a will, throwing caution to the winds, but could only amass 90.
In 1977-78 Hugh Delaney was captain, assisted by Mark Hughes. Against King’s Hos Brian Delaney had an inspired spell with the ball and took 5 for 6 and they were all out for 39. In the next match, 125 was sufficient to see off Sandford Park, especially with Philip McDonnell taking 7 for 35. In the section decider with Belvedere Philip made 45 out a meagre total of 72 and Belvedere, who were the eventual cup-winners, easily made the necessary runs. Both Hugh Delaney and Philip McDonnell were chosen for the Leinster Schools.
The enthusiasm of the Juniors more than made up for any lack in numbers. Captained by Mark Lawler, aided by David Raftery, their first League match was a tough one, against St Columba’s but they made a fine score of 126 on a sodden pitch, to which the reply was only 89, due mainly to figures of 7 for 37 from Alan Delaney. Losses against Belvedere and The High School were followed by wins over Clongowes and Gonzaga, too little too late.
1978-79 went down as the worst season weather-wise in living memory. A severe winter carried on well into May, rain, sleet and even snow, were the constant expectations before every game. A new competition was inaugurated by Masonic School for U-12s and named after Dr Harry Riske, a cricket enthusiast. St Andrew’s won it first time round. An U-13 Single Wicket competition was held in Kenilworth for a magnificent trophy presented by Mr and Mrs Raftery to commemorate their son, John, who had died a few years previously when in 1st Year. Belvedere won the inaugural competition.
This season sufficient players were interested enough in cricket to form a 2nd Senior team and, under Owen O’Sullivan, reached the final of the League. The chief attraction of this form of the game is that the innings are short, 20 overs apiece, so that even those who are studying hard for their Leaving can fit them in. Bowling figures of 4 for 16 by Martin Crofts and 6 for 6 by E. Coveney on the way to a final with Belvedere were outstanding but the season had gone well into the holiday time and St Mary’s could field only a very weak team.
When Fr. Barry left St. Mary’s in the early 1980s it was a big blow for cricket as a school game. Despite the efforts of various parents in subsequent years, inter-school success was limited. The College continued to produce notable players, such as Vincent Cunningham who was capped for Irish Schools at both cricket and rugby. But team success in the short school season was rare.
1979-80 opened with a thriller against The High School, ending in 109 each. St Mary’s took the last High School wicket with the last ball of the game when the 109 was reached.
Martin Crofts took 5 for 30 and Brian Delaney 3 for 31. Against Masonic’s pathetic 16, a rather pedestrian 79 was sufficient to win. The figures of Brian Delaney, 6 for 9, and Martin Crofts, 3 for 5, speak for themselves. For the best part of 50 years Masonic had been a power in schools cricket and it was sad to see their demise. Belvedere in the next
round were a different proposition, making a solid 132 for 8 on a big ground, but dropped catches did not help the St Mary’s cause and a batting slump did the rest. Conor Murphy and Brian Delaney were chosen to represent Leinster Schools against Munster Schools, and Conor was also chosen to play against Ulster and the Leprechauns.
A lack of interest among the graduates of the Junior School left the U-13s with only 13 players to pick from. Vincent Cunningham was the captain and both bowling and batting mainstay.
In 1980-81 Ireland had the wettest May for years and that meant the wettest cricket season, since most of the cricket is played in May. The League was a disaster for St Mary’s. In their second match they registered the lowest in the school’s history- 22 all out! Conor Murphy was top batsman in the season and well merited his selection for Leinster against Munster and Ulster and the final accolade of selection for the Irish Schools against the Leprechauns, the Welsh Schools (won by Ireland by 7 wickets), English Schools (won by England by 5 wickets). The English match was played after the Welsh without even one rest day and it proved too much.
Action Shots from the 1980s
The cricket season was always at the mercy, not only of the weather, but of what was happening on the rugby pitch. At best it lasted· just about one month, so that if match practice did not begin until mid-April, teams found themselves totally unprepared for the Cup and League matches which of necessity have to start early in the season if they are to
be completed before the schools close for the summer. Any undue delay in completing the rugby season can seriously impair the start of the cricket. And this can happen even if those who play cricket are not also those who play rugby. In small schools like St Mary’s the two are usually synonomous.
1981-82 turned out to be a good year. The rugby season ended promptly enough and the weather was perfect. Six players, Alan Delaney (captain), Conor Murphy, Peter MacGiolla Riogh, Vincent Cunningham, Neil Briddock and Vincent Merriman were members of Leinster CC and were strongly supported by Arthur McEvoy, Gerry Cross, Hugh Mullen and a few others. So, it was the makings of a good team. Conor Murphy was picked for Leinster Schools and for the Irish Schools. 2nd Senior cricket is played in a more cavalier,
1980 Senior XI
‘Ian Botham’ fashion (little practice, plenty of panache) and consequently, matches which could have been won were lost by catches dropped from unpractised hands. But, it was enjoyable cricket.
Vincent Cunningham, as an established member of the SCT, was the obvious choice for captain of the JCT, and he vindicated this choice by easily topping the batting averages. Winter dragged on to the end of May in 1982-83 making a shambles of the cricket season. The League was crammed into a few days without any preparation. Vincent Cunnigham was top scorer and Hugh Mullen bowled himself into the ground. Gerry Cross captained the team, assisted by Arthur McEvoy.
Adrian Hoey and Liam O’Donoghue were picked from the JCT to play for Leinster U-15 in an All-Ireland competition.
Mark Raftry Skeehan – Schools Interpro Captain
1983-84 was a vast improvement from the point of view of the weather. Vincent Cunningham was captain of the SCT and earned his selection, along with Liam O’Donoghue, for Leinster Schools against Ulster. He continued his good form with his strong batting for Leinster CC 2nd XI, who won their Section Cup.
1984-85 was a bench-mark year for cricket in St Mary’s, in fact for schools cricket in . general in Leinster, because it was the first year for 45 years that the maestro, ‘Pere’ Barry, was not at the helm. It could also be taken as the watershed for cricket in St Mary’s because it was all downhill after that, not because of the departure of Fr Barry
but because his departure coincided with the general dedine in interest in cricket, not only in St Mary’s, but throughout the entire province. From that until the end of the decade cricket was even more of a ‘cinderella’ sport than ever, kept alive in St Mary’s mainly by the efforts of a number of dedicated teachers and friends of the junior school and enthusiastic players in the senior school who were members of Leinster CC, CYMS CC and other cricket clubs.
St Mary’s did field an SCT, U-14 and two U-13 teams that season. Vincent Cunningham led the SCT and went on to be capped for both Leinster and the Irish Schools, thus becoming one of the very few to be capped at both rugby and cricket at schools level.
The U-14 team was the best in the school. It was captained by Martin Stuart who played a captain’s part in the opening match against St Columba’s by taking 6 for 49. However, the side usually proved too venturesome with the bat. A win over Wesley was noteworthy because of the bowling of Joe Healy who took four wickets with four successive balls,
missing the fifth only because of a dropped catch! An innovation that season was a Father-and-Son festival played at Kenilworth under special mini-cricket rules which gave Father-and-Son pairings four overs in which to score as well as they could.
1985-86 was the season when cricket pride was restored in St Mary’s. When a school has gone without a League win for six years, the only ways to go are up or out. Happily St Mary’s chose to go up. The early part of the short season was spoiled by the usual downpours and only one practice match could be played before the league started. The
League began with two losses. However, luck changed after that and in the match with Belvedere St Mary’s recorded their first League win for nearly ten years. O’Donoghue bowled superbly, taking 6 for 34, McCarthy and Hoey shared the rest. In the final match, only the rain saved High School from a drubbing. With figures of 4 for 9 at one stage Liam
O’Donoughue was running through the batting order when the rain stopped the match.
The High School were 48 for 7. Liam finished with figures of 6 for 18 in 18 overs. That draw put their opponents into the final which they easily won.
The U-14s under Brian Cotter, Jun. made a brave fight of it in their League. It was in this competition that Mark Raftery-Skehan began to show his ability at the game, scoring 31 ( out of 42) in the last match. The U-13 game against Sandford Park was the outstanding game of the competition, 297 runs scored off 50 overs. A six was needed off the last ball to save the match, but it did not come.
Six St Mary’s boys figured in the Leinster CC Under-15 side which won both the Leinster Cricket Union and All-Ireland Under-15 Cups, Matthew McCarthy (capt.), Adrian Hoey, John Whelan, Shane Tracey, Paul Leech and Kevin McDevitt. Adrian hit his maiden century in competitive cricket, while John Whelan was named Man-of-the-Match
1or a fighting innings in the Leinster final.
1986-87 saw the withdrawal of St Mary’s from the Senior League because Leaving Cert commitments made too great a gap in the ranks of the players.
In 1987-88 only one match out of six was won by the SCT and that was against the Past. The outstanding player was Mark Raftery-Skehan who won his place on the
Senior CYMS XI, was captain of Leinster U-15 Interprovincial XI, captain of CYMS All-Ireland-winning U-15 XI which also won the Yates-Hale Cup, was top-scorer in the Leinster Interprovincial XI 1987, CYMS U-15 Player-of-the-Year 1987, captain CYMS U-15 XI 1988.
Acknowledgement is due here to Fr. Maher’s College History 1890-1990 (WAM) and Fr. F. Barry’s article in Leinster Cricket Club 1852-1977 (FCB)