Garryowen will put the Shay Deering Trophy on the line once again when they travel up to face St. Mary's College in the AIB League this weekend.
Quite a number of clubs play an annual match for a trophy named after a distinguished former player or esteemed clubman. Ballymena play Dungannon on St. Stephen's Day for the Dr. Jack Kyle Cup, for example. The legendary out-half usually turns up on the day to present his cup to the victims.
More often than not, fixtures with a trophy on offer are usually commemorative. Such a trophy will be presented on Saturday to the winners of the Division One meeting at Templeville Road where St. Mary's face Garryowen. The trophy, a bronze bust, perpetuates the memory of Seamus Mary Deering, Shay to his friends, who departed after a long illness to play rugby in the Elysian Fields eighteen years ago on November 3, 1988 at the early age of 40.
"Who was Shay Deering?" the young, and those who are new to rugby might ask? Well, outlined below is a brief synopsis of his outstanding rugby career.
1948 - Shay Deering was born in Dublin on August 5
1960 - Entered St. Mary's College, Rathmines
1963 - Won a Leinster Schools JCT medal as a number 8
1964/65 - Capped on the Leinster Schools XV
1965/66 - Captain of the Leinster Schools XV
1966 - Captain, won a Leinster Schools SCT medal as a flanker; Matriculated into UCD Veterinary Faculty
1967 - In November, won the first of his 13 Leinster caps at wing forward
1968/69 - Played on the Irish Universities XV
1970 - Won a Leinster Senior Cup medal with UCD
1970/71 - Captain of UCD RFC
1972/73 to 1976/77 - Won 19 Munster caps playing out of Garryowen FC, with whom he won Munster Senior Cup medals in 1974 and 1975; captained Munster for two seasons
1974 - In February, he made his Ireland senior debut at flanker against Wales (9-9 draw) at Lansdowne Road
1978 - In November, now playing out of St. Mary's College RFC, he captained Ireland in a 10-6 defeat to New Zealand at Lansdowne Road in his eighth and final international game. His father Seamus (nine caps) and his uncle Mark (one cap) had previously played for Ireland back in the 1930s
1979/80 - Won five more Leinster caps and captained St. Mary's to win the Leinster Senior League
Shay was one of very few rugby players from Dublin to ever be fully accepted among Munster rugby folk. Indeed, he was awarded their highest honour in that he was asked to lead the province onto the field of play.
...St. Mary's Leinster-capped winger James Norton...
Very soon after the sad demise of an extremely popular man, plans were drawn up to honour his memory. Garryowen commissioned a head-and-shoulders bust of Shay and offered it for annual competition with St. Mary's College.
The first game took place in early September 1989. President JB Sweeney led a large group of St. Mary's people down to Limerick to be greeted by Mickey Martin, the President of Garryowen FC. Shay's widow Ann and all the Deering family were invited to attend and the bust was unveiled in a moving ceremony before the game.
Garryowen, captained by Kenny Smith, were very fit and beat Mary's in the inaugural match. Garryowen were to monopolise retention of the bust for quite a few years until 1996/97 when the Dubliners, led by Brian Keane, eventually wrestled it away from the Dooradoyle club with a sweet victory at home in Dublin 6W.
Shay had returned to his roots at long last and the bust was placed on the shelf in full view at the end of the Club Bar in Templeville. Since 1997 the bust has made quite a few trips up and down the N7 between Limerick and Dublin.
Last October, Mary's brought the bust with them to Dooradoyle and had to part company with it after the game. Saturday's tie will mark the 17th occasion that the two clubs have competed for the trophy.
Garryowen lead the way with 10 wins in previous clashes for the trophy, with four victories for Mary's and two draws.