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).


From the earliest years, cricket was played in the college as the main summer game, as Fr. Maher’s College History testifies. The Leinster Cricket Club in Rathmines (L.C.C.) was already almost forty years old when the doors of St. Mary's College opened for the first time in 1890. A St. Mary’s Prefect (clerical student), a Mr. Ned O’Shea was known as “Sixer” O’Shea after a match he played in 1899 with the Blackrock Staff against the Leinster C.C. in which he hit eight sixes. (In those days St. Mary’s, having been founded from Blackrock, was still considered simply a branch college). The Senior Cup was won in 1916.

From the beginning in 1890, cricket was the no. 1 summer sport in St. Mary’s. There is a newspaper article about a junior cricket game with Blackrock played in St. Mary’s around 1895. Naturally St. Mary’s won. In the 1890s a Past Students’ Cricket Club was formed, fielding a number of teams; playing in Cherryfield, it finally folded only in 1945, due to lack of numbers and finance. In 1905, St. Mary’s and Belvedere were both admitted to the schools competitions. But for a decade, we never had sufficiently strong teams to win the trophies from the Protestant schools who ruled the scene.

That changed with the remarkable story of the team which won our first Senior Cricket Schools Cup in 1916, the year of the College’s temporary closure. Bobby Donovan’s team had 3 interprovincial players. The final was played at Leinster CC - it was an amazing game. St. Mary’s batting second led St. Columba’s by ONE run (49–48) after the first innings. In the second innings, St. Columba’s were all out for 33, our captain Donovan taking 6 wickets. Needing only 32 to win in reply, seven St. Mary’s batsmen failed to score a single run between them! But the captain made the 33 needed for victory with the help of a wide!

Alas! The early cricketing promise of St. Mary’s suffered a severe setback when the College had to close in 1916. The premises became the Senior (C.S.Sp.) Seminary. It seemed the end of the road for St. Mary's. Where was the point in keeping records and chronicles? So, many archival records were lost. A past-pupil’s cricket club flourished in those pre-closure days.

When the College re-opened in 1926, cricket’s importance was soon almost on a par with rugby. The annual O’Gorman Cup was often won against Blackrock. Cricket was re-established as the main summer game. It became so popular that when the first group of students left the college, they felt the need of re-starting a cricket-club. Under such enthusiasts as Charlie Wilson, Paddy Branagan, Gerry Boyd and his brothers, the Clifton brothers and many others, they soon had a club going, under the inspiring name of "The Optimists." They played under this name for some years and then gave themselves a new constitution to become the St. Mary's College Cricket Club. Boys leaving school in those days naturally joined this club. They had reached second senior ranks in Leinster, when in 1946, due mainly to transport difficulties as a result of the war which prevented easy access to their ground in Templeogue (the old Leinster Hockey Union ground) especially for practice, they were constrained to close.

But nearby Leinster Cricket Club, founded in 1852 had always attracted some past-pupils. Ray Molloy ("Ram") of Rathgar was a member of the Leinster Club from his early days until his death in the late '40s. He had the pleasure of leading past students cricket teams against the newly re-opened college for several years in the '30s. Frank Reddy left St. Mary's for C.U.S. in 1916 when the College closed. He got his first of many Irish caps in 1924 as a member of the L.C.C. and served the club very well afterwards. He played a fine innings of 123 against Trinity C.C. in 1950 when the L.C.C. made the record total of 531 for 1 in a weekend of memorable cricket (Trinity scored something like 300 runs).

George Nash, son of Con who kept wicket for Ireland, joined the L.C.C. from St. Mary’s in the early '30s. So did Val Buggy, a fine left-hand bowler who figured for several seasons on the First Xl and in the post-war period led several teams against the President's Xl in exhibition matches in College Park. The most outstanding players in the early 1940s were the Scott brothers — Martin, Fred and Willie.

When Mr. Frank Barry C.S.Sp. came as prefect in 1938 and when he returned as priest in 1944 the game received a great impetus. He became renowned in Leinster cricketing circles and among our alumni. The fine liaison with Leinster Cricket Club, that still persists, was established.

In 1945 under the direction of Frs. Segrave and Barry, cricket in the College took on a new look. It was clear that "the writing on the wall" was there for the St. Mary's Club. It was equally clear that boys should be orientated to the fine Leinster Club on our doorstep. The college grounds were totally inadequate for the playing of the game (At that time we had not acquired Kenilworth Square). The Leinster Club authorities were approached through the good graces of Mr. Willie Kearns and at once they gave a magnanimous approval for the use of their magnificent grounds.

This, it was felt, would do two things. It would help to promote the game under good conditions and give an opportunity to those leaving the College to continue playing with the premier club in Leinster. They gave the ground for six weeks in the summer and one of their members, Val Buggy (a former St. Mary's man) offered to coach the young players.

There was euphoric enthusiasm among the Junior team in the last term of 1945. The team was a very young one - two years on average under the stipulated under-16 age. On a memorable day in June on the Leinster ground we beat Blackrock College in the final and won the Junior Cup! Gerry Duffy was the hero of that day. He made over 30 not out, when disaster was staring us in the face with five wickets down for ten runs against Blackrock's total of 65. We made the score for seven wickets and schoolboy enthusiasm shattered all cricket decorum by carrying Gerry shoulder-high off the field! It would be impossible here to do justice to Gerry's subsequent career with Leinster C.C. It is well known to all cricket lovers. Another member of that team was Ian Duff. The day of the final was his birthday; he was twelve years old, playing on a Under 16 team!

From those years on, cricket in St. Mary's went from strength to strength and a steady stream of players joined the Leinster C.C. In the immediate post-war years the Leinster Club had the good fortune to secure the services of some great coaches viz. George Pope of Derbyshire, Learie Constantine of the West Indies and George Harrison of Glamorgan. St. Mary's were allowed to avail of their services. This gave a tremendous impetus to our cricket. Anyone who ever came in contact with Learie Constantine could not help being fired with enthusiasm for the game. He must surely rank in the galaxy of the world's best ten all-rounders of all time. Batting, bowling, fielding and superb all-round sportsmanship — he brought to them all an inimitable artistry, which he ably demonstrated in the several exhibition matches he played in this country. He predicted a great career for Gerry Duffy (who in his book he incorrectly calls Gerry O'Connor!) and Gerry became his worthy disciple.

The flow of young players from St. Mary's into club cricket was steady. In speaking of the continuance of cricket in the after-school years, one must take many factors into account. Firstly, the number wanting to play cricket in a serious fashion in the schools is relatively small, as many do not persevere in the necessary technical coaching. The school cricket season in the last term is very short - about five weeks. Public examinations at the beginning of June deter many from the game (though this is very often an excuse for wasting time in other non-sporting activities). In the long holidays, some boys take jobs, others go away for long periods, boys often took up permanent employment in those earlier days. All these factors, and many more, militate against persevering with the game at game at club level during the summer season. There was considerable "fall-out" and many good players were lost to the game.

Nevertheless membership of the St. Mary’s boys in the ranks of the L.C.C. was considerable. One has only to throw a cursory glance at the team photographs in Leinster pavilion to see how many of them have figured on cup-winning teams at all levels. Names run trippingly off the tongue: Robbie Burke, John Cunningham, Joe Egan, Dermot Furlong, Pat and Colm Murray. Jim Murray (no relation), Stephen Reynolds, the Kelly brothers (Bernard, Tim and Fred), John Flavin, Brian Nagle, Cyril Fagan (who later captained Trinity), Noel Farley (who once took 9 hours to make 200 against Phoenix), Raymond Kinane, Clayton Jones, the Fair brothers, Neil Smith, Alan Jerrold, Brian Godfrey and the ebullient Rory O’Connor, Ray Sloan, the litany of the Delany brothers (Paul, Gerry, Ian, Hugh, Brian, Aidan and Alan - Amen!), great all-rounders all.

The list could go on; it shows bowlers, batsmen, fieldsmen figuring on every team in the club, in most cases over many years. It is representative. There are dozens of others who joined the club for one or two seasons until business or other circumstances intervened. As recently as 1974 the schoolboy vacation Under 18 Cup was won by Leinster with an all-St. Mary’s team. Enough has been said to indicate that the "marriage" between the Leinster Club and St. Mary’s has been a happy and fruitful one. Let us hope there will never be a divorce! There are certainly no grounds for nullity! (F.C.B.)

St. Mary’s acquired the Kenilworth Square sports ground in 1948. In the intervening years it has been turned into an adequate cricket ground for the college teams. We have been happy to offer it on occasions to the Leinster Club for some of their matches. The wheel has gone full circle.

The Junior Cup was won in 1945 and a Junior/Senior double in 1948, with several Under 14 victories. Ray Sloan won Leinster Junior and Senior medals with St. Mary’s teams in 1972 and 1974.

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.

Since 2005, however, there has been a growing enthusiasm for the game among both Junior and Senior school students. Particular thanks for this is due to Ray Sloan, Junior School Gamesmaster. His great dedication and organising ability in the Junior School have served College cricket excellently, with a stream of fine young players moving easily into the Senior School. Many, from both schools, also play club cricket in the summer with Leinster C.C. and Terenure C.C. — often to a very high level, even in adult teams. In 2009, L.C.C., with many St. Mary’s boys on board, won the All-Ireland Under 15 club trophy.

In 2011, the crowning achievement was the winning of the prestigious Leinster Junior Cup for the first time since 1974. Under the captaincy of Jack Mullen, in the final we defeated Rush Community School, the last of several fine wins. Our Under 14s, led by Gareth Delany, reached the final of their Cup, but lost to a strong St. Andrew’s team. Under 13 cricketers had a great season. In the premier Leinster U. 13 competition, the A team, under the captaincy of Danny Hogan, reached the final, where only an amazing contribution with bat and ball by one Belvedere player (the son of Gerry Delany, a St. Mary’s past-pupil!) meant a narrow defeat for us. In the U. 13 Leinster Plate trophy (donated by the Raftery family in memory of their son, a young deceased St. Mary’s pupil), our C team, a Junior School group, captained by Conor O’Gorman, defeated the B team (First Year) in a great final in Kenilworth. Finally, the Form 5 team played in the Primary Schools League, winning several games.

The Junior School cricket leagues in each year are now keenly contested, and the finals arouse great excitement. Finally, many pupils now achieve representative honours. In 2011, Hugh MacDonnell captained the Irish Schools team and played for the Ireland U. 19 team, Benn Hoey captained Leinster U. 17 team and played for Ireland U.17; Michael Hogan played for the Leinster and Ireland U. 15 teams. Gareth Delany captained the Ireland U. 14 team and played for Leinster U. 15s. Mark Fogarty and Mikey Hoey played for the Leinster and Ireland U. 14 teams; Danny Hogan captained the Leinster and Ireland U. 13 teams; Conor O’Gorman also played for the Leinster and Ireland U. 13 teams. Derry O’Connor and Eamonn Byrne played for Leinster U. 13s.

In recent years our boys played summer cricket also with Terenure C.C. In 2011 that club won the Leinster Club Under 15 trophy with the help of M. Hogan, M. Fogarty, T. Kennedy, C. Kennedy, G. Finn, Danny Hogan, M. Hoey (Capt.), and T. Lynch — all St. Mary’s pupils.

2013 was the annus mirabilis, as the Principal would say, for St. Mary’s College in Schools' cricket. We were in the finals of all 6 cups we contested, winning 4 of them, including the Senior/Junior Cup double last achieved in 1948! St. Andrew’s and ourselves dominated schools cricket in the season and we faced each other in five schools’ finals.

Ray Sloan has been at the forefront of the development of cricket in the school and many of our current young stars would not be playing cricket but for his dedicated coaching and encouragement in the Junior School. Thanks too to Leinster CC and Terenure CC for use of their facilities for fixtures and summer coaching and games for our pupils of all ages.

We thank our Gamesmasters and many parents, and Leinster C.C. and Terenure C.C., for their support and cooperation in all our cricketing endeavours.