Irish rugby statistician Des Daly takes an interesting look at a story behind Saturday’s AIB League Division One clash between Dolphin and Lansdowne (Musgrave Park, kick-off 2.30pm).
To begin with here is a list of 24 rugby players capped by Ireland. Note that all field positions have been covered and in some cases there are options.
Full-backs – WG Rutherford (1884 – 88) 5 caps; PJA Berkery (1954 – 58) 11 caps; RM Spring (1979) 3 caps
Wingers – D. St. J. Bowen (1977) 3 caps; DW O’Mahony (1995 – 98) 4 caps
Centres – MJ Kiernan (1982 – 91) 43 caps; RJM Moroney (1984 – 85) 3 caps; PPA Danaher (1988 – 95) 28 caps
Out-halves – MAF English (1958 – 63) 16 caps; BJ McGann (1969 – 76) 25 caps
Scrum halves – LFP Aherne (1988 – 92) 16 caps; DM Canniffe (1976) 2 caps; DP O’Mahony (1995) 1 cap; HW Jack (1914 – 21) 3 caps
Props – BGM Wood (1954 – 61) 29 caps; VJ Pike (1931 – 34) 13 caps
Hooker – PC Whelan (1975 – 81) 19 caps
Second rows – WJ O’Connell (1955) 1 cap; MI Keane (1974 – 84) 51 caps; GM Fulcher (1994 – 98) 20 caps
Flankers – GF Reidy (1953 – 54) 5 caps; MD Kiely (1962 –63) 5 caps; PC Collins (1987 – 90) 2 caps
Number 8 – DEJ Spring (1978 – 81) 7 caps
And what is the major connection between all of these Ireland players? Yes, they are all men of Munster, the vast majority of whom wore the red of Munster with some distinction. Four southern counties are represented in the listing.
Included are twelve Corkmen (Jimmy Bowen, Michael Kiernan, Darragh O’Mahony, Barry McGann, Fergus Aherne, Donal Canniffe, David O’Mahony, Harry Jack, Gabriel Fulcher, Gerald Reidy, Dave Kiely and Paul Collins), six Limerick men (Paddy Berkery, Philip Danaher, Mick English, Gordon Wood, Pat Whelan and Bill O’Connell), three men from Tipperary (Willie Rutherford, Rory Moroney and Victor Pike) and three Kerrymen (Moss Keane and brothers Dick and Donal Spring).
But there is another thread which unites all of these Munster men. At some stage of their playing careers they all togged in the red, yellow and black colours of Lansdowne FC in Dublin.
In the pre-professional rugby days, Lansdowne became the adopted home of most ambitious rugby players arriving in Dublin from the south either to start a new job or on transfer within a company. There was always a warm welcome and Lansdowne had to do little active recruitment.
Word of mouth down Munster way was enough. And sure, wasn’t it a player out of the Lansdowne club who captained Munster to the legendary 12-0 victory over the All Blacks at Thomond Park on Halloween 1978.
Berkery, Wood, Kiely, Canniffe, Dick Spring, Keane, Donal Spring, Collins, Aherne (twice) all captained the Headquarters club while four of the players – Jack, Berkery, English and McGann – were elevated to the presidency.
Frank Forrest, a former Munster interprovincial centre, was the most recent Munster man to be honoured with the presidency (2003/04) of Lansdowne FC.
Forrest, a product of the Dolphin club in Cork, will travel back to his roots this coming weekend when Lansdowne are due at Musgrave Park in Division One of the AIB League.
No doubt, the five Dolphin rugby internationals who once soldiered with Lansdowne, will do their best to turn up and renew old acquaintances.
David O’Mahony will have to be present as he is currently the Dolphin head coach. Back in 1999/2000, O’Mahony captained Lansdowne to their only AIB League championship final to date.
Darragh O’Mahony, who played with Dolphin in recent seasons upon his return from England, should make it to the game as should Gus Aherne who won his first Irish cap out of the Dolphin club.
Mick Kiernan, he of the famous ‘drop goal’, will be in attendance. Mick won 36 of his 43 Ireland caps with Dolphin. And, of course, Gerald Reidy will roll out the red carpet to welcome those from his former club. Gerald, a former president of the IRFU, was president of Dolphin during their centenary season a few years ago.