Fab Fifties

A very high standard of rugby was played by Newcastle West throughout the 1940′s, and in the early 50′s, a strong panel was still available. Bill Flanagan-Dore was a sturdy pack leader and it was said, that his booming exhortations of “Feet, Newcastle, Feet” could be heard as far away, as his native Monagea. Mickey Lyons, of the Square, was a polished full back and Gussy Quinlan, who had played soccer, Gaelic football and hurling with Newcastle West, was an accomplished winger. Michael P.Dooley was joined by his brother Tom in the centre, and Dave Hayes moved to out-half, to make way for one the town’s greatest all rounders, Paddy Sammon, at the base of the scrum. Paddy Devine and Pat Walshe made their apperance on the side, and Tom Hayes of Walshestown, an ex Munster schools prop, strenghtened the forwards. Paddy Moore of the Old Pike, established himself as club hooker, and John Moore was joined in the pack by his younger brother, Eddie. Other stalwart forwards were Timmy Geary, who learned his rugby at Mungret College, Bill Heffernan, Jimmy Sheehan, Paddy Deere and the Kennedy brothers Moss, Davy and Paddy. Others prominent around this time were Mick O’Grady, John Mulcahy, John Burke, John McKnight, Frank Benson, Abbeyfeale men Tom Collins, Tom O’Connell and bankers Tom Hannigan, Sean Newman and Tom Darcy.

Numerous thrilling cup and friendly games were played in the 1950′s, and if no cups were won, many lasting friendships were cemented. Jack Ahern’s field (where Lidl now stands), was the club grounds and the Courtenay Arms Hotel, the headquarters. John Clarke could still be found taking the collection around the side line, in his aging cloth cap. Ned Naughton, who was in charge of the medical box, generally relied on a drop out of the bottle, to heal all ailments.

In 1953/54, Newcastle West seemed to have got together a good combination, under the captaincy of Dave Hayes, with Bill Flanagan-Dore vice-captain. Some promising material had emerged from the colleges including Tom Ambrose, Basil and Cyril Curtin, Tom Cowper and Michael D.Dooley. An all-out effort was made in the Munster Junior Cup, which had become the premier junior trophy in Munster. Newcastle West were drawn against Charleville, then at their best, with Dave Foley, Jimmy O’Rourke, Seanie Lynch, Harry Ball and Billy Cahill to the fore. It took three terrific games, considered by many to be the last of the genuine blood and thunder junior cup ties, before the teams could be separated. However, in extra time in the third game, an ambitious Newcastle West scissors movement broke down, and enabled Charleville to nip in for the deciding try. This clash marked the end of rugby in Newcastle West for some seasons.