Tom Clifford and beautiful beautiful Munsters #YoungMunster #Limerick #Munster #Rugby

first_imgRELATED ARTICLESMORE FROM AUTHOR WATCH: “Everyone is fighting so hard to get on” – Pat Ryan on competitive camogie squads Limerick Ladies National Football League opener to be streamed live Limerick’s National Camogie League double header to be streamed live WhatsApp Billy Lee names strong Limerick side to take on Wicklow in crucial Division 3 clash Limerick Artist ‘Willzee’ releases new Music Video – “A Dream of Peace” Advertisement Email Printcenter_img NewsTom Clifford and beautiful beautiful Munsters #YoungMunster #Limerick #Munster #RugbyBy Staff Reporter – September 8, 2016 2406 Predictions on the future of learning discussed at Limerick Lifelong Learning Festival TAGSAILfeatured postlimerickMunsterPaul O’Connellyoung munster Facebook 13 February 1993; Ger Clohessy, Young Munster captain, lifts the All-Ireland League Division 1 trophy. Insurance Corporation All-Ireland League, Division 1, Young Munster v St Mary’s College, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit; David Maher / SPORTSFILELimerick is famous for its proud rugby tradition. From the early 1900’s to the present day, intense rivalries on the pitch have led to great stories and friendships off it. As part of his series on the seven senior All Ireland League rugby clubs based in Limerick, Daragh Frawley turns his attention to the final installment, Division 1A side, Young Munster RFC.Sign up for the weekly Limerick Post newsletter Sign Up Above: February 2000; Peter Clohessy in action for Young Munster in the AIL  (Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE)“GOING up North for an AIL game on a Friday, you went on a half day from work and you came back on a Sunday if you were lucky.“Heading up there at the start was unreal. We had huge support travelling and that really surprised them.“We played Ballymena in the early 90’s and 600 people went up to support us. They had buses waiting at the train station to bring people to the ground and were shocked because they hadn’t seen the likes of this before.“I don’t think we’ll ever see that again but it was incredible at the time.Those are the words of Young Munster stalwarts who have been part of the Greenfield’s club for decades.Back in the dayFor Tom McCoy, Gerry Quaid, Dan Mooney and Noel Kilbridge, Young Munster has been a way of life.“In our day, we played rugby for half the year and the other half was spent rowing.“Shannon were normally associated with Athlunkard Rowing Club and Young Munster’s were with St Michael’s”, explained Kilbridge.“I remember winning a second senior four competition in Cork when we beat Trinity and had the Young Munster junior cup front row in the boat!While the current crop of front rows may struggle to keep a rowing boat afloat, the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s provided a foundation for Young Munster to firmly establish themselves in rugby circles in Munster and further afield.A watershed moment in the club was winning the Munster Senior Cup in 1980, beating Bohs in the final.“I saw fellas crying after we won the 1980 senior cup. They thought they were going to go to the graveyard without seeing a Senior Cup win but, in their own minds, they could die happy after that.“42 years is a very long time and there were very good teams that were beaten in previous finals but that’s just sport.For Dan Mooney, the 1980 final signalled a shift in the way that Young Munster played the game and he believes that this template still suits the men in black and amber.“It was there or thereabouts we made the breakthrough in the way we played the game.“We were always tough and lively up front but we had young backs come in, guys like Francis Brosnahan, Micky Mac, Pat Cross, Ger Mc, Johnny Costello, John Moloney.“There were more down the line but those guys really stood up and brought a new dimension to it and it was great to see.“In ‘84, we did a clean sweep winning the senior and junior cup double, the Munster senior league and the senior seconds league, and all but one of those fellas came from the underage here.Explaining that the pitch at Tom Clifford Park was always played on throughout the year, all four recall it being ‘completely bald’ during the summer months, but once there was a drop of rain in September it would turn to muck.“We’d train and play in it and we’d always fight till the end here, but when you went to Dublin for example, the fast pitches combined with the pace and speed took a bit of getting used to and there were a few harsh lessons along the way.The AIL“Once the All Ireland League came around in 1990, it was where every club wanted to be, and if you weren’t in it you were doing everything in your power to make the cut”.Gerry Quaid was club president at the time and he vividly recalls how they approached the challenge.“There was no professional game at the time and in the first year we were in the second division. Old Wesley and ourselves were vying for the top spot.“The likes of Bohs and Old Crescent weren’t in it and it was a much smaller division. There were eight teams in division one and eight in division two. Con, Shannon Garryowen and Malone were in division one and we were in division two with Old Wesley, Buccs, NIFC, Bangor and CI.“We got promoted to division one although it wasn’t in the most straightforward way as it was different at the time.Many of these teams didn’t know what they were facing when playing Young Munster but, at full strength, the were a force to be reckoned with.“As it was an amateur game, we had guys in work and they couldn’t play on certain weeks, but when we were at full strength, home or away, we were capable of beating anyone.“We played Bangor first at the height of the troubles and two police officers were killed the same day. We ran a train for supporters and it was the first time a train went from Limerick to Bangor. We never got off the train and went over the Amiens Street route and picked up more Young Munster supporters there.“Their fans were throwing stones at us over a wall trying to intimidate us but we destroyed them in the game.“Paco Fitz and Claw were in the front row and it was 20 nil before the first scrum. I remember speaking to their president on the phone earlier in the week and he asked who we thought were the favourites for the division that year, and I didn’t really know much about them, so I didn’t think they were in the running.“He was very insulted on the phone but I suppose he understood after the final whistle”.1993Above: 13 February 1993; Ger Clohessy, Young Munster captain, lifts the All-Ireland League Division 1 trophy. (Picture credit; David Maher / SPORTSFILE)1993 will forever be remembered in Tom Clifford Park as ‘the cookies’ greatest triumph.With wry smiles from all present, all four explain that while it culminated in the AIL trophy making its way to Greenfields, it was far from straightforward.“If you were a betting man, you wouldn’t have backed Young Munsters against Mary’s in that game”, Gerry Quaid admits.“We were talking about staying up. Survival was, and still is, the name of the game.Tony Grant was the coach and, according to Dan Mooney, he certainly believed that they were capable of beating the odds.“He had belief and he had the drive. We rode our luck a little, but Grant brought determination and self-belief. The rest of us were hoping, but he was convinced that we had it in us.“At the time, it was a league format and it just so happened that Young Munster’s were playing St Mary’s and it was a case of us having to win, whereas a draw or win would have given them the league.“The final was supposed to be played in Templeville Road in Dublin which has a capacity of roughly 1,200.“23,000 people ended up going to Lansdowne Road, but right up until the Thursday the game was down for Mary’s home ground where it was originally scheduled for.“All throughout that week, the debate went on and on but in the build-up to the game, club president Paddy Benson was magnificent. The onus was on us to distribute 1500 tickets and the response was “no f***ing way as we had 15,000 people who wanted a ticket.“The tickets were going to go on sale on a Monday at 8am. The queue would start at 2am and it would have been pandemonium.“The Garda Superintendents in Limerick and Dublin had to liaise with each other and they checked with the transport companies. Bus Eireann were fully booked. All the trains were full and any private bus was booked too.“It wasn’t just a Young Munster support base. It was every other club in Limerick getting behind us for the final.“After the numbers were confirmed, they had no choice but to move it Lansdowne Road and the atmosphere on the morning in Limerick and in Dublin was indescribable. It was the talk of the country.“I remember hearing a story about the late Willie Doran who couldn’t get to the match because of work.  He was in Maher’s and a woman came in to him.  “How’re ya Mary- how do you think Young Munster will do today?” he said.“They’ll be fine I reckon, they just need to throw a few luders into the other crowd early on!While Brent Pope may have thrown the famous punch that earned him a red card, Ger Earls and Aidan O’Halloran will be forever be remembered by ‘the cookies’ for their vital scores in the 17-14 win.Above: 13 February 1993; Peter Clohessy celebrates victory over St Mary’s with team-mates in Lansdowne Road, Dublin. (Picture credit; David Maher / SPORTSFILE)A few good yarnsOf the many stories told down Greenfields way, many focus on the formidable forward pack that struck fear into their opponents.For incoming president Tom McCoy a story about Declan Edwards’ debut comes to mind.“Declan came on against Cork Con for his first senior start and Paco Fitzgerald and Peter Clohessy were in the front row.“Going into the scrum, Paco says to Claw, ‘there’s fine looking woman in a red dress on the half way line there’, to which he replied: ‘Okay, I’ll bring this fella down a few inches so you can get a good look!.“Deccie said to himself  ‘Jesus what am I getting myself in for’, but they all had a good laugh after the game.“On another occasion we were playing Con, and Paki Derham was hooking for them.“The front rows had bound for the scrum and Paul Meehan says to Derham ‘move over’, before lamping him with a dig. Paki popped up from the scrum, and the ref penalised him for breaking the bind!When Noel Kilbridge was team secretary, he used to cycle on the bike with the jerseys after the senior game and drop them off to be dried in Patsy Naughton’s as they would be used again on the Sunday for the junior team.“The smell of fish and chips from the jerseys on Sunday was unreal but we were used to it, but when the Dublin teams were playing us they would be giving out about the stink of fish in the scrum!“Looking back at the likes of Peter Meehan, Ray Ryan, Paco Fitz, Claw, Mark Fitz, Ger Earls, Ger Copley, Deccie Edwards, Ger Clohessy, they were a ferociously competitive pack and they played together for so long and they were a joy to watch.Proud days and what lies aheadThere have been many proud days in the black and amber jersey for the four stalwarts, and whether it was as a player or a supporter, it didn’t make much difference.For Noel Kilbridge, winning the Junior Cup in 1960 in Musgrave Park in Cork was his defining moment.“There was no sweeter place to win than in Cork against Con, but the year after we played them in the Senior Cup and lost in Thomond Park in a titanic battle. Those would be my proudest memories.For incoming President Tom McCoy it was the memories of being brought to the games as a youngster.“Being with my father in Musgrave Park at Junior Cup final in 1961 when Paddy Treacy captained the team. That, and being at the station for the 93’ AIL homecoming, were my proudest days without doubt.“Having guys like Tom Clifford and Paul O’Connell starting their careers here and going on to achieve what they have in the game makes us all immensely proud at Young Munster.Above: 26 November 2010; Paul O’Connell, Young Munster, tries to win possession in the ruck from Fergal Walsh, Shannon, in Thomond Park, Limerick. (Picture credit: Diarmuid Greene / SPORTSFILE)With a new coaching staff in place Munsters will be looking to go one better having come within a whisker of two AIL finals in consecutive years only to be denied at the death on both occasions.Maintaining division 1A status is the priority but the squad and coaches are more ambitious.“We are being realistic but the squad will be aiming higher,” McCoy explains.“The AIL isn’t what it was but it has gotten the recognition. I remember when there were 8,000 people in Greenfields at a game against Shannon on a foggy Friday evening but you wont see that again.“We still have very good support at the AIL games here and, as supporters, we’re always prepared to give the referees the benefit of our experience!“The professionals have got too much power in the modern game. When they start interfering with players in clubs, you have a problem and you only need to look at what happened prior to last season’s Munster Senior Cup final to see that.“You need to be playing ball every week as a young fella and no amount of gym or training can emulate what you get from playing the game.Above: 11 April 2015; Sean Duggan, Young Munster, wins possession from a lineout ahead of Brian Moylett, Lansdowne in Tom Clifford Park. (Picture credit: Diarmuid Greene / SPORTSFILE)Being a Young Munster man:For Gerry Quaid, being a Young Munster man goes much further than the club itself.“I was junior captain, senior captain and President here but they’re all personal and that’s not what its about.“Paddy Foley got me playing rugby. He’d find out your name and cycle along with you on the way home from school or wherever. He chased everyone and would pass no one an apology for it. You see from that what the club and the game meant to him.“My sister comes to the matches here and my sister in England goes to every Munster match even though they have no connection with the province. My grandchildren play. It’s family and I can’t imagine not doing it.“I don’t know why but its something you get involved with and you stay involved.For Noel Kilbridge, Young Munsters is in his blood.“Since I was 13 years of age I’ve been here. My wife is convinced that if she dies and it clashes with a match, the funeral will be postponed!“When my first son Dermot was born, Shannon were playing Young Munster in a match and I left her in the room with the new born son because I had to be at the game.“It’s part of my life. Not a week goes by that I’m not here and I wouldn’t change it. Linkedin Previous articleNominations sought for Limerick Garda Youth AwardsNext articleLocal businesses urged to support bereavement service Staff Reporter Twitterlast_img

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