Clontarf versus Pembroke - 1943
THE RSA Leinster Senior Cup final match-up of Clontarf against Pembroke seems such a classic encounter that it is surprising to learn it is the first time the sides have met in the decider since 1943.
They were very different times, especially in the Irish Times newspaper which gave the High School sports twice as much coverage as the Leinster Hurling Final on the weekend in question. Cricket was well-covered however, and we can piece together the course of the game through the words of their un-bylined reporter.
The skies were clear over Rathmines on July 3rd, but not over Europe, as the paper’s front page was full of details of the Allied bombing raids on Sicily and Sardinia. Paper shortages meant the newspaper was restricted to six broadsheet pages per day and cricket slotted in on page 5.
It was a very wicket, but the Clontarf batsmen – with the exception of Caprani, Bourke and McMahon – “treated the bowling with undue respect” and should have made 300. Joe Caprani, later an international and a much-respected coach, was particularly aggressive in making 51, with 10 fours.
Ten of the ‘tarf batsmen made double figures, but the likes of Noel Mahony, another Ireland batsman who became national coach, and rugby star Austin Carry, failed to take their innings on. The skipper, LB McMahon, went in No.10 and hit the first three balls he faced for four, bringing the crowd to their feet. He was 21 not out when Keegan was run out and Clontarf closed on 219.
Clontarf has batted for four and a quarter hours but their downfall was a pair of brothers called Williams from Herbert Road in Sandymount. Mickey (the off-spinner) was hailed as the “best performer of the day” for his 7-68 from 39 overs, while Tom (the leggie) bowled 29 overs, taking 2-71. Tom’s son, David, was a long-serving player and administrator who has recently bowed out as chairman of Cricket Ireland.
These were the days before limited overs, and the cup was run on a bat-as-long-as-you-like basis, and Tarf’s total seemed a little light in the circumstances. There was still just under two hours left for play, and the Sandymount side took the total to 82-2, mainly thanks to the openers, Alan Murray (of 20 over cup fame) who “showed enterprise” in an innings of 38, and Kevin Dempsey “showed restraint” in finishing 25 not out. Murray was out when Noel Mahony held a hard drive at mid-off, but Dempsey drew criticism as he had “averaged only a run approximately every 4 ½ minutes”.
The game continued on Monday, starting at 6pm, but in a session shortened by rain Pembroke were well on top and took the score to 152-4. Dempsey was out for 36, but Mickey Williams survived a confident appeal for lbw on 12. He made just one run more, but Brendan Bergin batted steadily to close on 43 not out. Bergin had been capped before the war, and was one of seven past, present or future internationals in the side.
Resuming on Tuesday, Tom Williams was soon out “to a bad strike” and Bergin only added 12 more. The Pembroke tail featured some great names at this remove, notably Ciaran O Maille and Stanley Bergin but in 1943 the latter was still at Westland Row school.
Clontarf’s captain LB McMahon swept through the lower order, taking four wickets on the Tuesday evening as Pembroke were bowled out with 25 runs to spare.
N C Mahony b T Williams 13
E A Carry lbw b M Williams 10
P J Bourke b M Williams 25
R Ruddock lbw b M Williams 33
T Dunne b T Williams 12
JW Hill c Miller b M Williams 12
J Caprani st Miller b M Williams 51
G Fox b M Williams 12
S Keegan run out 13
D Fitzgerald c Aylward b M Wlliams 4
L B McMahon not out 21
Bowling: Murray 0-62, M Wlliams 7-68, T Wlliams 2-71, B Bergin 0-5
K Dempsey b Fitzgerald 36
G Bergin lbw b McMahon 2
A G Murray c Mahony b Caprani 38
B F Bergin c Dunne b McMahon 55
M Williams b McMahon 13
T Williams c Ruddock b Hill 14
W Aylward c Ruddock b McMahon 5
F Miller b McMahon 6
S Bergin not out 7
C O’Maille c Dunne b McMahon 1
M O’Maille not out 0
Bowling: Hill 1-72, McMahon 6-70, Fitzgerald 1-22, Caprani 1-16.