Ashbourne and the Spencer Cup

Ashbourne RFC and the Spencer Cup

Ashbourne take on DLSP in the Spencer Cup Final at Monkstown RFC, at Sydney Parade in Sandymount. We kick off at 8.00pm and it should be a great game with two teams that have played one another already three times this season.

Ashbourne is in this Metro Competition this season as a guest and it is great to make the final having beaten Monkstown in the semi-final. But there is a strong tradition in the club of participation in the competition which helped shape the club in its early years but we never won it!

Ashbourne RFC founded in 1974 competed in the Metropolitan competitions in the early years –up to 1998, when it was decided to move to the Provincial Area and compete in the Provincial Towns Cup. A regret of many who soldiered through the early years is that we never won the Spencer – the Holy Grail of the Metro Area. The Spencer Cup is an Area Cup competed for by junior clubs in the metropolitan area.

Ashbourne first entered the competition in the 1977/78 year as a Junior 3 club with Mick Martin as captain. In a 2 leg fixture –home and away, Ashbourne drew the first leg in Ashbourne against De La Salle and were beaten by a late try, scored by De La Salle, in the return leg in Kilternan. De La Salle went on to win the cup. So I suppose the full circle is being completed tomorrow night. De Le sale went on to join with Palmerston RFC to form DLSP RFC.

In the 1978/79, Ashbourne as a Junior 2 Club with Jack Conlan, as captain were defeated by De La Salle in the semi- final played in St Mary’s Club Templeogue. It was a fiercely contested match with De La Salle coming away as winners by 3 points. The teams featured 2 Irish International players in direct opposition. Al Moroney (RIP) at loose-head prop for Ashbourne was in direct competition with Des Fitzgerald (also played for the Lions), at tight-head, for De la Salle. For the younger generation, Des is the father of Luke of current vintage.

Ashbourne reached the final of the competition in the 1979/80 season, with Pat McManus as captain. The final was played in Donnybrook and Seapoint were the opposition this time. This was centenary season of the Leinster branch and Rank Xerox had sponsored a try scoring competition, as part of the celebrations. The competition was open to all Leinster clubs to include Senior, Junior 1 and Junior 2 teams. The history books record that Ashbourne won the overall competition. The style of play for that season by Ashbourne, orchestrated by Jimmy Dillon at out-half, was one directed towards attack and on scoring tries. In the Spencer cup final, this did not change and indeed the match featured a wonderful try scored by John Byrne, playing on the left wing. Following a move from deep inside the Ashbourne half, the ball was moved through the hands by both forwards and backs, culminating in the try being scored at the Bective end. Ashbourne led until the last 10 minutes, but unfortunately went down to a wonderful break-away try by Seapoint.

Ashbourne again reached the final in the 1980/81 season, led by Alec Smith, with Suttonian’s as the opposition. It was a close run -typical cup rugby, match with Suttonian’s running out as winners on a 9-3 score-line. Tony Redmond provided the 3 points and one Roy Maguire came on as a sub for Ashbourne.

Ashbourne reached the final, played in Donnybrook, in the 1989/90 season with Ivan Craigie as captain. Garda provided the opposition, but again Ashbourne came up short, following a very exciting game. Ashbourne played a lanky 18 year old Jeff Mahon in the second row that day in what was an early day in a stellar career with the club. The game was 9-9 at full time – Brendan Cummiskey scoring our points, we took the lead with another Cummiskey penalty in added time but then Garda got a try in the second half of additional time and ran out winners by 3 points. It is interesting to note that current Club President Pat Rooney and Club Chairman Sean Mahon were also on that team as well as Jeff, and that both Pat’s sons are part of the Ashbourne 1st team panel. That last finalist team was

15. Pat Rooney, 14. Padraig Furlong, 13. John Bobbet, 12. John Byrne, 11. Paul Lynam, 10. Brendan Cummiskey, 9. Des Rainey, 1. Sean Deegan, 2. Sean Mahon, 3. Joe O’Reilly, 4. Mick Gleeson, 5 Jeff Mahon, 6. Ivan Craige (Capt.), 7. Padraig