Johnny Glynn was only 46 when he died on January 10 1959, midway through his term as president of the Irish Rugby Football Union. He was a director of Glynn’s famous fancy goods and toy shop on William Street (where you could buy tickets for rugby internationals). He was educated at the Bish, played rugby for Galwegians and Connacht (12 caps), became a well known referee, served in various offices including president of his club, and dedicated himself to the advancement of the game of rugby in Connacht. He was a modest man who preferred to work away in the background and demanded only that there be no departure from the spirit of the game, no lapse from the fundamental decency of rugby football.
His sudden death left a huge gap in Connacht rugby so the two city clubs, Corinthians and Galwegians, decided to put up a memorial trophy in his name known as the Glynn Cup, which would be played for between the clubs every Saint Patrick’s Day.
The inaugural match was played in 1959 in the sportsground. Our photograph today (courtesy of Danno Heaslip) shows the two teams and officials on that day. They are, back row, left to right: touch judge Lobby Lardner; Johnny Dooley, Joe Brennan, Brendan Guerin, Harry Begley, Joe Tyrrell, Jimmy Gleeson (Devon Park), Sean Calleary, Tom Kelly, Tom Reynolds, Terry O’Neill, Tony O’Sullivan, Sean Ashe, Seamus McIvor, Brian Wright, Noel Corcoran, John Armstrong, Sean McHale, referee KD Kelleher; and touch judge Michael Heaslip.
Seated are: Don Armstrong; Christy O’Connor; Dickie Roche; Tommy Lenihan, president, Corinthians; Rynal Coen, captain, Galwegians; Tom Higgins, captain, Corinthians; Jack Deacy, president, Galwegians; Eamonn Fitzpatrick; John Callanan; and Ken Dexter.
In front are Dermot Lovett, Brian Silke, Danno Heaslip, Patsy Lynch, and Brendan O’Beirne.
A very big crowd turned up to watch the match which the favourites, Galwegians, won by 17 – 6. They also won it from 1960 to 1963. There was no competition in 1964 and Wegians won it again in 1965 and 1966; Corinthians 1967; Wegians 1968 – 1972; Corinthians 1973; Wegians 1974; Corinthians 1975 and 1976; Wegians 1977; Corinthians 1978 – 1990; Wegians, 1991; Corinthians 1992; Wegians 1993; Corinthians 1994-1996.
For whatever reason, the competition ceased for a number of years but on Tuesday next, Saint Patrick’s Day, 50 years after that first game, it is being revived on a very different scale. Sixteen teams from each club will line out in Cloonacauneen starting at 11am. There will be under seven, under eight, under nine, under 10, under 11, under 12, under 13, under 14, under 15, under 16, under 18, ladies, under 20, seconds, thirds, and senior teams playing on the three pitches with the senior game at 4pm. The teams up to under 12 will be non-competitive, each game will have two 30 minute halves with the winner receiving one point for a win. The club with the most points wins the Glynn Cup. This novel celebration of the game between these rival clubs involving all ages and all levels is very much in the spirit of rugby which Johnny Glynn loved. I can think of no more fitting tribute to his memory.
There will be catering facilities available, music, and fun, and a return complimentary bus service from the tourist office to Corinthians on the hour from 2pm onwards. So, go for the rugby and stay for the craic !