Sunday 22 October 2017

Giants still hungry after decades of success

Founded back in 1884, Shannon RFC is one of Munster's oldest rugby clubs. It was first captained by one of its founder members, Paddy Lynch, with Stephen Hanrahan assuming the role of club president in the first two years of its existence.

Shannon RFC was a junior club for the best part of 70 years, winning its first of many Munster Junior Cup titles in 1914. The club won their first Transfield Cup title in 1938, and in 1940, in a unique treble, claimed the Charity Cup, the Transfield Cup and the Munster Junior Cup.

Consistent success as a junior club eventually led to Shannon attaining senior status in 1953-54. In 1960, they won their first Munster Senior Cup, defeating UCC in a pulsating replay at Thomond Park, having drawn 8-8 the previous week at Musgrave Park.

Over the years, Shannon had numerous temporary grounds throughout north Munster, among them the field at the Island Bank, Gilligan's Field, Johnny Cusack's Field and Egan's Field on the Mill Road in Corbally.

Shannon's first purchased grounds were 14 acres of land at Fir Hill, Gortatogher (better known as Athlunkard), just two miles from Limerick city. However, a few years ago, it was determined that this was not big enough, so it was sold to Corbally United, in favour of the club's current more spacious grounds at Coonagh off the Ennis Road.

Shannon now have three training pitches with floodlights and newly built dressing-rooms, with two further pitches being developed.

While still a junior club, Shannon became co-tenants with Bohemians RFC at Thomond Park and in 1967 introduced their own club pavilion. The pavilion was extended in 1978 and has been catering for fans attending Munster games ever since.

One of Shannon's greatest honours was the four-in-a-row All-Ireland League titles in the late 1990s. The club again captured the AIL in 2002, '04, '05 and '06 and '09 to bring their total to nine. They also added the All Ireland Cup in 2008, and seven successive Munster Senior Cups from 2000-06.

Shannon RFC continue to be a formidable club in Munster, with four men's teams and a successful youths and mini section along with a women's first XV and girl's side.

A total of 11 Shannon women players have worn the green jersey for Ireland, including Joy Neville, who helped the Girls in Green to the Grand Slam this year.

Twenty male Shannon players have been capped for their country, including former Ireland manager Brian O'Brien, Brendan Foley, Colm Tucker, Gerry McLoughlin, Mick Moylett, Mick Galwey, Mick Fitzgibbon, Anthony Foley, Eddie Halvey, Alan Quinlan, John Hayes, Peter Stringer, Marcus Horan, Trevor Hogan, Jerry Flannery, Tony Buckley, Donnacha Ryan, Ian Dowling, Niall Ronan and Felix Jones.

Of them, McLoughlin, Tucker and Galwey have represented the Lions.

Three Shannon players – Foley, Tucker and McLoughlin – played on that famous Munster side that defeated the All Blacks (12-0) on October 31, 1978 in Thomond Park.

Galwey captained the Munster side that lost so narrowly in the Heineken Cup finals of 2000 and 2002.

Anthony Foley, along with his father Brendan and sister Rosie, represented Shannon, Munster and Ireland with distinction. Foley topped it all off in May 2006 when he led Munster to that wonderful European Cup final victory in Cardiff over Biarritz.

OLDEST

A notable long-running club member is Stephen Fitzgerald who, at 98, is the oldest member of Shannon RFC and may be one of the oldest members of a rugby club in the country. He played with Shannon in the late 1930s and early 1940s, as well as being the club president in the '40s.

A great milestone in the history of the club was the celebration of their centenary in 1984.

In a long and illustrious history, Shannon has won everything that has to be won in the game. However, that does not diminish the hunger for success that is the hallmark of Shannon teams at every level.

Having recently appointed former Munster Academy manager Ian Sherwin as director of rugby, Shannon RFC will be putting the disappointment of last season behind them and are confident they can add to their illustrious trophy cabinet in season 2013-14.

Club Officers

President: Vinny McMahon

Vice-president: Jack Bourke

Junior vice-president: Tim O'Donoghue

Chairman: John Leahy

Honorary secretary: Tadhg Crowe

Honorary treasurer: Gerry O'Neill

Irish Independent

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