The All Ireland League: St. Mary’s College RFC
Season 1990/01 t0 2005/06
1990 to 2006 (16 seasons) by Des Daly, Irish Rugby Statistician.
The All Ireland League (AIL) kicked off in the 1990/91 season with the top 19 clubs from the 1987/88, 1988/89 and 1989/90 Provincial League competitions invited to compete in two divisions. Six Leinster clubs completed in the first season. St. Mary’s College RFC had finished the three-season review ranked 1st of the 15 Leinster Senior Clubs so it was game time in Division One in 1990/91. Three seasons later the AIL was extended to involve all 46 senior clubs in the country. Fifteen of these clubs were from Leinster, thirteen from Ulster, eleven from Munster and seven from Connacht. The first division now comprised eleven clubs, the second also included eleven clubs while there were thirteen clubs in Division Three and eleven in Division Four. St. Mary’s College RFC made their debut in the AIL on Saturday 6th October 1990 against Cork Constitution in Cork. The Dubliners lost their Division One opener 9-13. Let history record that Peter MacGiollaRiogh scored St. Mary’s College RFC’s first ever try in the AIL with Steven Hennessy slotting a conversion and a penalty goal.
Ray Hernan elected club captain for a second term; two wins (22-10 home to Wanderers and 12-7 home to Ballymena) in the opening four games and placed fourth in the table halfway through the season; lost all four away games during the campaign including three in Munster (9-13 at Con, 13-15 at Garryowen and 7-11 at Shannon); lost 6-19 home to Instonians in the last (Jan 26th) of eight games; suffered four defeats on the run into the finish to only escape relegation because of a better points difference than Wanderers who were relegated along with Malone; Cork Con win the their first title at Dooradoyle on the last day of the season; at the end of their first campaign St. Mary’s College RFC were ranked 7th club in the land and were the second placed of the six Leinster Clubs now in the AIL.
AIL Stats: Steven Hennessy – 32 points; two tries – Aidan White, Vinny Cunningham, Arthur McEvoy.
Joining from Otago in New Zealand, 31 year old No 8 Brent Pope made an 18-13 winning debut at home to Garryowen on 16th November 1991; John Muldoon had his earlobe ripped off at Young Munster (3-18) by an identifiable player; club found itself in the relegation zone after weeks 4, 6 and 7; forward to week 7 where a win away to Instonians was needed to stay up, this 14-3 won was the first in eight away since AIL began; the following weekend Lansdowne were relegated as a result of St. Mary’s College RFC’ failure at home (10-11) to beat Cork Con in the final game. And now you know why Lansdowne have never lost an AIBL game in eight visits to Templeville Road.
AIL Stats: Steven Hennessy – 37 points; two tries – Derek Dowling, Steve Jameson.
Nicky Barry arrived in from Garryowen; Jim Curran and Kevin Conboy began their St. Mary’s College RFC careers as senior team management; after losing the opener 18-21 at Stradbrook the club went unbeaten in six games and led the table going into final round; for safety reasons, the IRFU moved the Young Munster game to Lansdowne Road. St. Mary’s College RFC lost this decider 14-17 before an attendance of 13,100 according to the IRFU; others said it was nearer 17,000; Brent Pope was sent off by referee David McHugh during the game; away in Cork to Con in February, St. Mary’s College RFC got their first win (12-11) in seven AIL visits to Munster; at the end of third campaign St. Mary’s College RFC were ranked the 3rd club in the land and were the first placed of the eight Leinster clubs now in the AIL.
AIL Stats: Aidan White – 94 points, highest in the division; seven tries – David Wall, the most tries in Division.
Victor Costello, after much head hunting by Declan Coleman, enlisted from Blackrock; at home to Cork Con, Kevin Potts was dismissed by a Welsh referee for retaliation after David Corkery persisted in kissing him at each maul situation; after another acrimonious game at Young Munster (lost 3-18), St. Mary’s College RFC produced video evidence of Peter “The Claw” Clohessy stamping on captain Steve Jameson; lost three games and then won three games and then won three on the trot (two of them at home to Leinster clubs); this season was the first time that the Shay Deering Memorial trophy was played on an AIL date; Garryowen won 13-12 at Dooradoyle to retain the bust for fifth consecutive year; the club were in the relegation zone after weeks 5 and 7; at the end of the season beat Shannon 22-18 at Templeville for the first time.
AIL Stats: Nick Barry – 65 points; three tries – Tony Gillen.
Popey moved across the Liffey to play with Clontarf and Aidan White went west to Corinthians; Greg Maher started his first of three seasons as first XV manager; after opening loss (6-20 away to Shannon), won six on the bounce but never topped the table; along the way there were two wins in Cork on successive October weekends and a first win (21-19) in four fixtures with Young Munster.
AIL Stats: Nick Barry – 57 points; three tries – Gary Halpin.
The professional era (the game goes “open”) in rugby union appeared on the horizon; Denis Hickie motored in from UCD after winning his Colours as a first year student; the first time in six seasons to win opener (beat Old Belvere 24-12); won the opening four games and led the table for the first five rounds; managed no victory in final four games; the IRFU decreed that there would be no relegation from any division as a decision had been made to increase the participating clubs from 45 to 49 and to enlarge Division One from from eleven to 14 clubs; Steve Jameson against Blackrock College (11-7 away win) played in his 50th consecutive AIL game; for the first and only times, all four Munster clubs occupy the top four table positions at the completion of ten rounds in Division One.
AIL Stats: Nick Barry – 38 points; three tries – Malcolm O’Kelly and Denis Hickie.
There were thirteen games on the Division One agenda this season; St. Mary’s College RFC were the only club omnipresent in Division One not to have won title; won the three openers and led table after rounds 4 and 5; won four on the bounce in March; Victor Costello, having signed on for London Irish at the start of the season, returned from London in January; lost the last two games in the season, including the first AIL game against Terenure (0-14 at Templeville in April); beat all four Limerick clubs this season and were the first Leinster/Ulster club to do so; the first win in eleven AIL visits to Limerick (19-11 at Young Munster in January); there was still bad blood v Young Munster, referee Sean Buggy had to request the St. Mary’s College RFC players for protection after the game; the Shay Deering trophy returned after seven seasons at Garryowen; Denis Hickie scored a try on his international debut at Cardiff in February; at the end of the season, Steve Jameson had now hit 67 AIL games on the trot.
AIL Stats: Craig Fitzpatrick – 103 points; eight tries – Kevin Nowlan including a hat-trick against Blackrock, seven tries – Davy Lyons.
AIB took over the sponsorship of the All-Ireland League; semi-final play-offs were arranged for the end of the season; a ten minute sin-bin was introduced this season; Trevor Brennan (to be capped by Ireland in South Africa at the end of the season) barged in from Bective; Kevin Conboy began his first of three seasons as first XV manager; won four games on the trot in mid-season; beat Lansdowne (42-10 in Feb) under lights at Lansdowne Road… a first victory in seven AIL games against them; three players (Conor McGuinness, John McWeeney and Kevin Nowlan) from the club plus Malcolm O’Kelly made their international debuts against New Zealand in November; won the final three League phase games but never led the table during the season; had now lost all four AIL games at Dooradoyle; won away to Old Crescent on March 14 (Easter); three players sent off by Gordon Black in this very bad-tempered match which was the first win by a Dublin club in Limerick that season; reached semi-final play-off (lost 21-28) away to Shannon in mid-April; match was shown live on TV; Richard Ormond landed a record ten conversions at home to Dungannon.
AIL Stats: Fergal Campion – 65 points; 14 tries – Denis Hickie (including four v Dungannon), 11 tries – John McWeeney, Hickie and McWeeney were the top try scorers in Division One this season.
Peter Smyth sauntered in from Blackrock and Peter McKenna from Old Belvedere; Craig ‘Bundy’ Fitzpatrick departed for Terenure after two senior seasons; against Lansdowne on December 12, ‘Jemmo’ hits 83 AIL games on the trot; won three on the trot in January/February; the defeat (0-38) at Cork Con at the end of February was the biggest loss yet in the AIL; first victory (19-13 at home in March) in nine years v Terenure in all senior competitions; have now achieved AIL wins in a row over Blackrock; have won the last seven homes against Limerick clubs (including a fourth consecutive home win over Shannon); crept into the Top Four by winning the last two games and all the other cards falling correctly on the day; semi-final play-off at Garryowen (lost 17-19 on April 24) was shown live on TV.
AIL Stats: Fergal Campion – 7 points; 4 tries – Victor Costello, John McWeeney and Peter McKenna.
Super 12 bonus points system introduced into AIBL scoring; Brent Pope assumed the coaching mantle after four seasons at Clontarf during which he brought them from the third to the first division; Brendan Spring became the first Templeogue College former pupil to be elected president of the club; won the four openers and led the table after all bar five of the 14 rounds; won four of the last five games in the League phase; won both away games in Limerick (20-6 at Garryowen and 39-9 at Shannon); St. Mary’s College RFC played their 100th AIL Game and beat Clontarf 23-16; five hundred attended Lakelands for the Terenure v St. Mary’s College RFC pre-match lunch in April; Leinster clubs finish in the top three slots in the League; eight internationals were field on side which beat Lansdowne (25-22) in the AIBL Final at Irish Headquarters; captain Trevor Brennan receives the premier trophy “for St. Mary’s College RFC, for Dublin and Leinster”; according to some Munch clubs, it was ‘flawed final’ as they were short some contracted players due to Munster’s run to the Heineken Cup Final at Twickenham.
AIL Stats: Mark McHugh – 165 points, second best in Division One, John McWeeney ten tries including three against Clontarf, is the top try scorer in Division One.
The club’s Centenary season; out half Eddie ‘Heineken’ Hekenui joined from New Zealand and was immediately picked by Leinster; lost the two openers but won five on the trot later on in March/April; were unbeaten in five games against Leinster clubs this season; due to Foot and Mouth restrictions, four games were postponed in February and played later on during May; a big marquee was erected in May for the monster lunch prior to the home game against Terenure (won 24-15); the Shay Deering bust again travelled down the N7 to Limerick; Denis Hickie on April 17th scored the last of his 30 AIL tries to date for St. Mary’s College RFC.
AIL Stats: Mark McHugh – 124 points; six tries – Peter McKenna.
Trevor Brennan, after twelve Irish caps with S. Mary’s College RFC, moved back to his roots in Barnhall; John Muldoon began the first of his four seasons as first XV manager; were unbeaten in opening four games including a 30-24 victory at Lakelands for the first Dr. Michael Smyth Memorial Trophy match between the two clubs; led the table after Rounds 2, 3 and 4 but were out of the Top Four by the end of the first week in September lost five on the trot during December/January; the game against UCD (9-9) was the 1225th AIL outing for the club; club has now won on the last three visits to Young Munster; enjoyed success in the last six games in the campaign which equalled the longest AIBL win sequence at the club; have collected only two bonus points for tries scored in each of the last three seasons.
AIL Stats: Barry Lynn – 77 points; four tries – Kieran Lewis, John McWeeney, Conor McPhillips.
‘Pistol Pete’ McKenna returned to Old Belvedere having secured his Irish cap while at Templeville; achieved a sixth consecutive home win over Shannon (26-21 in October); played 150th AIL game on April 13… still no win in seven home games against Lansdowne; after Round 12 (March 29), St. Mary’s College RFC had conceded the most penalty goals (28) in Division One; lost the last three matches including a record 10-80 thrashing by Clontarf at Castle Avenue; the senior squad this season included 15 contracted players, 13 attached to Leinster and two over in Connacht.
AIL Stats: Barry Lynn – 109 points, John McWeeney eight tries, Conor McPhillips seven tries.
No win in the opening five games; starting in the New Year lost four on the trot; lost both games away in Cork; the first home win this season (34-13 v Dungannon) was not achieved until the end of February; St. Mary’s College RFC registered the least tries (16) in Division One and for the first time collected no bonus point for tries scored; club was relegated in Division Two after fourteen consecutive seasons in the top tier; after five seasons Brent Pope vacated the coaching chair.
AIL Stats: Barry Lynn – 102 points, two tries – Darragh Hughes, Chris Fifield, Karl Gilligan.
An AIBL campaign in the second division this season; former club captain Steve Hennessy came on board as head coach for the second time; went unbeaten in all eight games on the road this season; suffered only one loss in the League phase, 13-14 at home to Terenure in January; achieved 100th AIL win (the fourth club to reach the milestone) in victory at home to Barnhall in last game of the League season; became the seventh club to immediately bounce back into the first division after being demoted; away to UL Bohs, John McWeeney became the third player to score 50 tries in the AIL; qualified for the Division Two play-offs; received a walkover from UCC in the semi but lost the Division Two Final 12-18 to UL Bohemians at Lansdowne Road.
AIL Stats: Barry Lynn – 151 points, six tries – John McWeeney.
No win in four visits to Munster this season; won only one of the concluding five games; John McWeeney finished season on 53 AIBL tries; lost two big finals this season, the Leinster Senior League Cup (16023 to Clontarf) and the AIB Cup (12-37 to Cork Con); as was the position at the end of the 1992/93 AIL competition, St. Mary’s College RFC were still ranked the 4th club in the land and were the first placed of the seventeen Leinster clubs now in the AIL.
AIL Stats: Jonathan Sexton – 133 points (fourth best in Division One) eight tires – Jonathan Sexton.