The Revival

The revival of Newcastle West rugby in the 60′s was spearheaded by Dave Cahill, Dr Joe Crowley and Mike Dooley. Dave Cahill, who had played on the Munster schoolboys team at St. Munchins in the early 50′s, had always kept up his keen intrest in the game and had played a good standard of rugby at U.C.C. When Abbeyfeale Rugby Club was founded by Dr. George O’Mahoney in the early 60′s, Dave, Mike Dooley and Gus Quinlan played some matches with them. Abbeyfeale was the strongest junior team in the country for some years, winning the Munster Junior Cup twice, and many other trophies.

The Newcastle West club was revived in the 1965/66 season under the captaincy of Dave Cahill, with the veteran Old Crescent prop and all round sports man, Jack Ringrose vice-captain, Barry McEnry was president, Dr Joe Crowley secretary and Mike Dooley treasurer. Success was immediate on the playing field. The first match against Scariff was won, in fact the team was unbeaten for a couple of months. The team was a good blend of youth and experience. Gus Quinlan, Mike Dooley and Mike Murphy were links with the fifties, John Cussen and Dave Cahill were experienced campaigners in the backs, with Dinny Lenihan showing great promise. Jack Ringrose, tough as teak, led the forwards, with Jerome Mullane of Ashford, nephew of the famous international, a strong prop, and the O’Sullivan brothers Mike, Dan and Patsy to the fore. James Moone, though new to the game, soon became an expert hooker and John Broderick  was a tear away wing forward in the best Munster tradition.

On St. Stephens day 1965 a memorable exhibition game was played against Dolphin, when a Newcastle West selected XV won the game with Phil O’Callaghan then at the start of his career. Newcastle West beat a strong Castleisland side with the ageless Con Houlihan in the engine room, in the first round of the Munster Junior Cup, but went out to Mallow in the second round. Successes continued in the 1966/67 season under the captaincy of Gerry Nash. Gerry had learnt his rugby in Glenstal and had played for two years on the Munster schoolboys team. He played senior with Dolphin and Bohemians and was a tremendously strong and lively prop forward. Jim (Jude) Foley of Old Crescent joined the team that season and also David Browne, later to play for Garryowen. One remembers some tremendous tussles with Tralee in the Galwey-Foley and Munster Junior Cups and a fine win against Abbeyfeale, also in the Galwey-Foley Cup. The team was narrowly beaten by Mallow in the area final of the Munster Junior Cup. By this time there was a great upsurge in local support for the team and Patie O’Connor and Tom Hennessy were tireless workers behind the scenes  for the club. James Moone captained the team in the 1967/68 season when Newcastle West went down narrowly to St. Mary’s in the semi-final of the Munster Junior Cup, having beaten Mallow in the area final. This was Newcastle West’s best performance in the Junior Cup and St. Mary’s went on to win the trophy. Ray Maguire, later to play with Galwegians, was prop on this team and Matt McCoy and his brother Pat (Pancho), were also newcomers. In the backs, Brian and Chris Nash and Tadgh and Dermot (Sonny) O’Connell, were new blood. In the season 1968/69, under the captaincy of Matt McCoy, Newcastle West won the Galwey-Foley Cup beating Killarney in the final, and one remembers Eddie McCoy scoring the winning try with Brian Nash kicking two penalties. Also in that season Newcastle West played the first ever rugby match in Bruff ,where the whole town turned out to see the strange game. The pioneering effort proved fruitful as rugby is now thriving in Bruff.