The hall was resplendent, bedecked in blue and white, balloons aloft and Spike's new chairs closely packed around the circular set tables. You could breathe and feel the warm sense of festivity and fellowship.
Some weeks ago it was pointed out how important that memorable win was to the psyche and development of the club, how it cemented our team spirit and our resolve and graciousness in adversity and triumph and the fact that, at that time, it was the most important rugby trophy to win in the country.
The team and special guests were greeted in the Centenary bar by President Kennedy and his committee, where reminiscences and nostalgia abounded, before being cheered with great joy and affection by all into the dining hall. Rynner ran the evening, as MC, with sensitivity, humour and his usual verve. He introduced the president who gave us a great feel of what it all meant and paid fulsome tribute to the team and their achievement; in a lovely addition he stood up the captains of the teams which followed the footsteps of the 1957-58 team by winning the LSC.
It was great to see the legendry Sean Lynch 1969 (with JB Sweeney back to his indomitable self after his very serious illness), Johnny Moloney 1971, Paul Andreucetti 1974, Colonel Terry Young 1975, Noel Mc Carthy 1987, Steven Jameson 1993, Kevin Devlin 1995 (Abs) and David Clare 2005 (Abs). He is hoping for a repeat in 2007-08 as the club is in the final and as our very hard working and enthusiastic captain Gareth Logan was present accompanied by Paul (Nasher) Nash. Steven Hennessy was also there and, they were wished the very best in that regard by Frank. The president then read a good wishes message from another great, Ciaran Fitzgerald, who could not get there. This well received speech by Frank was a perfect introduction for Joe himself.
Joe, as ever disarming, modest and amusing, took us through the campaign of 1957-58 and told of beating Old Wesley 14 -0 then scraping by Palmerston (Now DLSP) 3 - 0 and losing talented centre Barney Kelly to injury, beating a strong Clontarf side in the semi final and then a strongly fancied Blackrock side in the final, with a try by Brian Hussey (then 3 points) and penalty from Sean Cooke to nil, having had to literally weather a storm into their face in the first half, which ended 0-0. He did not tell of his own outrageous dummies he used sell and that were widely bought by all, nor that his team would have followed him through a shoal of piranha fish, nor did he tell of his exploits at the dart board with ten shilling notes, after games. He paid tribute to the College for the important role then played, especially in the persons of Fr Walter Kennedy and Fr Frank Barry. He got a deserved standing ovation. Then led by Spike, all sang, with great zest, our anthem "We are Mary's Boys"; the correct and original version.
Next, our patron, V Rev Fr John Flavin, who has followed the footsteps of Frs. Kennedy and Barry in his support, bestowed benediction on all present and the food, then we had a very enjoyable meal. This was followed by a typical and very funny after dinner speech by Ken (Sting) Ging. He pitched it perfectly for the audience, poking mild fun at many of the guests. He asked for and got a standing ovation. Rynner had a pleasant surprise for us, with a very good male choral group, which we enjoyed and joined in with often.
It was a great feeling for all of us to be meeting these stars of different eras, and to see the heroes of 1957-58, such as the incomparable Sean Cooke, big Jack Bagnall and the tireless Johnny Lee looking as though, with Joe and Vinno, they could almost go on the field today was lovely. Also looking good were the Hussey twins, Brian and Derry, Dick (Footy) Whitty, Mick Hoctor, the two reverend gentlemen, one home from Canada; Fr Barney Kelly and the other from USA, Fr Paddy Dowling, brother of Frank. A special mention must be made of seriously ill Ken Wall who bravely came along smiling, in spite of pain and fatigue, Nicky Corrigan also gravely ill could not make it, nor could Ned Carmody one of the great St Mary's stars and later seminal coach for many years. Sadly H RG Kerrigan and Tony Cusack are no longer with us.
Especially worth mentioning is that, also there were the great guides and protectors of our club, without whose foresight and work, our success could not have happened; nor would St Marys be the club it is today, without them. Paddy Bolger, Matt Gilsenan (recently retired as club trustee of nigh 60 years), Bill Fagan, Tom Brown and the hard working John Cunningham.
A suitable and deserving tribute had been paid to our team of 57-58 and great credit is due to all concerned. An outstanding success.