Blackrock College RFU season 1987/8, O’Connor Cup Final
20 years ago there was a very special and momentous occasion in ‘Rock, Leinster and indeed Irish rugby when Blackrock College RFC won a major trophy under the guidance and tutelage of an amazing coach and a captain fantastic. Yes we won the 3rd Cs Cup under Deccy Smith and Phil Elliott and oh… well ….. Yes we also won the Leinster Senior Cup.
Mind you we well remember the 3rd Cs with the cup supporting the seasons “under card” of the 1st winning “their” Cup in Lansdowne Road and having “our” champagne confiscated by security. Lucky that’s all they checked!!!
15. John Hoey
14. Philip Elliott (Capt)
13. Alan McGinty
12. Jody Walsh
10 Paddy Shortall
9 David Ringrose
8. Bill Murphy
7. Johnny Quirke
6. John McDonnell
5. Pat Gannon
4. Pat Nolan
3. Barry Devlin
2. Nudge Harrington
1. Justin Lennon
Coach + Bagman+ Mentor Deccy Smith and selector Eddie Slater.
Subs: Karl Rigney, Johnny Woods, Billy Meagher, Davy Jones, Johnny Kilroy
Philip Elliott and Smithy were way ahead of their time as they promised and delivered on “pay per play” for players and some say heralded in the new professional era in Irish rugby. The only difference between then and now of course is that we could afford it then.
The common theme of the season was the front row of “legend” Lennon, “Dangerous (if not contagious) Devlin and Hurricane Harrington being the corner stone on which the rest of the team was built. No need to ask who has written this piece huh? Mind you it was a good job the other 12 turned up as they happened to do all the scoring. So much so that Darragh O’Rourke was heard to say during the opening Cup game to “my ball” Alan MacGinty (beep beep), Why don’t they just give us the cup now”
We overcame tough opposition with excellent positional kicking by Paddy Shortall helped by the 100km per hour 60 metre passes of David Ringrose. Bill(I need a medal) Murphy and Pat Nolan with Pat Gannon rowing in behind rarely failed to secure the lineout but in the unlikely event that one did go astray Johnny “eat your ankles” Quirke would clean it together with the opposition and sometimes several members of his own team, apologising profusely later “Sorry about the nose Nudge”.
The silky selection skills of Smithy and Eddie Slater were so refined that no one on the Clubs selection committee knew the exact team until near kickoff. Surely people remember the practice of all young and gifted players not being allowed to train by their mothers then suddenly appearing on the team sheets before and during the cups. Oh the days!. The exception of course was Elliott who as Captain always had a place (even if it was on the wing, no need to hide Phil).
The final against a worthy and equally stacked Wanderers opposition ensured an exciting and unforgettable final (which none of us remember the score!!!) Memorable tackling and bravery under the high ball from John (I know Alan Lewis) Hoey and of course Shorty’s injury and subsequent retirement from rugby. Most of all though it is remembered for John Macs (RIP) amazing, incredible degree of difficulty 10 reverse double back flip try to win the match and break their hearts………. YES!!!!!
Nudge and Len.