The rugby club in UCG was founded in 1874, which makes it the oldest such club in Connacht. They played in the Bateman Cup competition many times and won their first Connacht Senior Cup in 1897. They have held this trophy aloft 34 times in all, more than any other club in the west, and they have won the senior league 16 times. They won the Dudley Cup for the first time in 1905. Many of their players have played for Irish universities international teams, and 10 have been capped for Ireland, several while playing for UCG. One of those, Ciaran Fitzgerald, captained the British and Irish Lions. The UCG colours are maroon and white.
They have had many successes down through the years, but a real highlight was the 1962/63 season when they swept the boards — they won the Connacht Minor League and Minor Cup, the Connacht Junior League and Junior Cup, the Connacht Senior League and Senior Cup, the OLBC Sevens and the Blake Sevens. Our photograph today shows the senior, minor, and junior teams with their trophies.
Front row, left to right: Steve Cunningham, Noel Carpenter, Des Berry, Billy Herterich, Seán Conneely, Pádraic Cassidy (club captain ), Mr Lex Ryan, Joe Costelloe, Frankie Deacy, Jack Geary, Joe Fox, and Perry Lydon. Second row: Eamonn McGuire, Mickey Broderick, Morgan O’Connell, Billy Glynn, Noel Browne, Henry Blake, Mick Molloy, Johnny Greally, Frank Kerrane, and Ollie White. Third row: Gay Cooke, Millie Lynch, Ronan O’Malley, Larry Cheevers, Mick Roche, Eamonn O’Toole, Ger Cloherty, Michael ‘Bomber’ Browne, Luke Clancy, and Phil Callery. At the back are Kieran Freyne, Daithí Frawley, Dave Lillis, Dara Little, and Brian Emerson.
A number of these players are organising a reunion of people who played rugby for college in the 1960s. They have lined up an interesting programme which is proving very popular. If you played with them and are interested in attending, contact Mickey Broderick at [email protected] or Steve Cunningham at [email protected]
Sadly today UCG (or NUIG ) do not play in the All-Ireland league, but they do compete at junior level and their under-21 teams play in the Conroy Cup against UCC, UCD, QUB, and TCD. Two years ago, they set up a Rugby Youth Academy in conjunction with other clubs in Galway, which will hopefully help strengthen the club in the future.
An Taisce will host a lecture on Wednesday next, April 17, in The Ardilaun hotel at 8pm. The title is ‘Walter Macken and his plays’ and it will be given by Jim Reid. All are welcome.