1970/71 Towns Cup Victory 50th Anniversary
Today marks the 50th anniversary of that memorable day when Skerries RFC ended the 19 year wait to bring back the Town’s Cup to Holmpatrick!
The final was played at the Curragh Camp where thousands of Skerries supporters travelled to see this young Goats side take on an experienced Navan team, amidst brass bands and parading goats!
They were not left disappointed. Skerries stamped their authority on the game from the get-go, clocking up 14 points in the first half and held on to this lead despite the constant pressure from Navan in the second half.
The final score was Skerries 14 – 6 Navan.
Under the captaincy of Dara McMahon, Skerries beat Edenderry in the first round of the Towns Cup, followed by success over Dundalk in extra time and Tullamore and North Kildare in the Semi-Final.
We caught up with Dara for a chat and for his thoughts on his time playing for Skerries and being a part of this original #SRFCdreamteam!
Looking back to when he started playing for Skerries, Dara told us that himself and 10 of that winning 1970/71 Towns Cup team were the very first Colts – schools boy rugby of the club. It was U13’s and the first match they played was against Belvedere. This was when the bonds of this close-knit group began. The lads were in school together, sailed together and moved through the age groups of the club. Dara remembers he was the first one to make it on to the Senior team, but in no time, the rest followed and then, they took over!
When asked what it meant to bring back the Towns Cup to Holmpatrick after nearly two decades. He remembers the Town was buzzing in the waves of celebration but the team themselves, while proud of the achievement, knew they had another match the following week. They were up against St Marys, winners of the Metropolitan Cup for the Junior Championship – Presidents Plate. Dara, putting his captain’s hat on, told the team, we’ll celebrate this one but remember, everyone back at training on Tuesday!
The then Chairman at the time, Sandy Heffernan, found this very amusing and not likely…..popped down to the training session on Tuesday to see who, if any, turned up….he was surprised to see…the full team in the throes of training!
While playing with this team and winning the Towns Cup four in a row, Dara’s highlights in the Skerries RFC jersey was playing in the Leinster Senior Cup out of Lansdowne Road against teams like St Mary’s and Trinity who had a number of Internationals togging out for them.
When looking to see which player he admired during his time, he was reluctant to give one name as he felt fortunate to have played with such a special bunch of players. But when pushed, he did recognise Colm Sherlock and Sean Thornton as stand out players and leaders on and off the pitch. In more recent times, he calls out Dermot O’Sullivan, a force from that 1998/99 Leinster Senior Cup team and one of our nominees in our #AIL Dream Team series. From the current crop of players, he enjoys the game of Tom Mulvany and looks forward to seeing him progress when the team gets back to play in the 21/22 season.
Dara’s thoughts on how the game has changed since his time and how he’d fare, he laughs and doesn’t think he would! The physicality of the modern game, he said, requires a bigger build of player and doesn’t think he’d make the cut. We’re not so sure if we agree with him on this one……there would definitely be a spot for him somewhere on the pitch!
His final thoughts and words to us were back to that famous four in a row team.
What was very evident when talking to him, it wasn’t the trophies or accolades they received, but the bonds of friendships made, that are as a strong today as they were back then. The boys are a regular feature at the pre-match lunches where Dara always has a table and they look forward to the time they can get back to enjoying these and cheering on the team in Holmpatrick.
A lovely comment he finished with “there was no real captaincy, we were all in it together, I was just lucky enough to be handed the cup”
As an aside…. That 1970/71 season saw the introduction of a new cup, the Jenkinson Cup for North East Second XV. Not alone did Skerries win the Jenkinson Cup but also the McGowan Cup as well as the Provincial Towns Cup and the Second XV won the Provincial Towns Seconds Cup.
A proud and successful year for the club!