1970-1999 - Glory Years

The seventies was the glorious age, with many trophies at all levels being won and with wonderful players like Sean Lynch, Dennis Hickie, John Moloney, Tom Grace, Seamus Deering, Tom Feighery, Tony Ward, Terry Kennedy, Ciaran Fitzgerald and Rodney O’Donnell all being capped for Ireland.  Of course, Johnny Moloney, Tom Grace and super hero Seamus Deering captained Ireland during that period and later Ciaran Fitzgerald captained Ireland to a triple crown in 82 and 85 and captained the Lions in 1983.  The inaugural Leinster Senior league was won under the inspiring captaincy of club great, JB Sweeney in season 71-72. 

The cup was to be won again in ‘71, ‘74, ‘75,’87, ‘93, ’95, 2005, 2010 and 2012.  The IRFU centenary all Ireland cup was won by Marys, led by the incomparable Johnny Moloney in 1975.

Success in that league was to come again in 78, 80, 89, and 97; it has been merged with the LSC to become the LSLC.  The seventies also saw the club outgrow College Drive and with the foresight of Brian Whelan, Bennie Lynch, Paddy Bolger, Matt Gilsenan, Bill Fagan, et al. a new ground was purchased from the Holy Ghost Community and a new beauty was born in Templeville Road.  Tony Hickie was the architect and he produced an innovative and imaginative clubhouse, which has been expanded and improved over the years under Tony’s watchful eyes.  It opened with a gala game in 1975.  That was a memorable day with a strong Marys’ team playing an international XV under Willie John Mc Bride.

In the eighties, the club continued to make strong progress and as well as three senior trophies, cups and leagues were won at all levels right through the decade.  We added to our international members with Paul Dean and Vincent Cunningham (son of John, great Marys' man, former president and current Hon Secretary) being honoured by Ireland and both likewise became Lions to their own and the club’s great credit and pride.  The game was evolving, with newer training techniques, more emphasis on nutrition, body condition and set plays.  Likewise, there was more emphasis on examination of and changes to the laws to help the game become more fluent.

The decade of the nineties was for St Marys, another period of great change and development, as it was for the game, when the fundamental change from amateur to professional rugby took place and its effect is still being felt, especially by all clubs including St Marys.  Structurally also the club changed, with, firstly a fine terrace being erected on the S E side of the pitch, then one on the clubhouse side and then a complete refurbishment and extension of the clubhouse and hall and the addition of the Centenary Bar.  Again, Tony Hickie was the architect, with Frank Kennedy the project manager, both doing an outstanding and caring job with diligence.  The planning, fundraising and organisational work was carried out by dedicated members especially John Doddy, Paul Sheeran, John Cunningham and Gus Browne.  Of courses the nineties saw the commencement of the All Ireland League in season 1990-91 and the club started in the 1st division and spent only one season since in the 2nd division, 2004-05, returning under coaches Steven Hennessy and Peter Smyth the following season.  Meantime in 1993 the club was beaten in a famous final at Lansdowne Road by Young Munster.  During the decade, the quality of play increased rapidly, with Brent Pope coming over from New Zealand in 1991 and others such as Victor Costello, Peter Smyth and Trevor Brennan joining from outside the club to add to the talent of, such as Steve Jameson, Michael Corcoran and Kevin Devlin while home grown talent such as Vincent Cunningham, Kevin Potts, Garry Lavin, David Wall and later Dennis Hickie, Malcolm O’Kelly and John Mc Weeney made up a formidable outfit which challenged yearly.  Under the astute coaching of Steven Hennessy and Hugh Maguire, the club reached the Top Four play-offs for two consecutive years, only to be beaten in the semi finals.  Then in 1999-2000 with  Brent Pope back as coach after a few seasons at Clontarf, Trevor Brennan as captain, Brendan Spring as president and John Doddy as Chairman of Rugby, the breakthrough came and the AIL 1st division trophy was secured to wild delight from all.  St Marys were the first non-Munster club to win the trophy.