Report written by Pat Hanratty


It could have gone either way!

To dwell on mistakes made in the heat of battle would be churlish – the fact is both sides made mistakes, took wrong options occasionally, but put their bodies on the line and gave us a heart stopping display with all that is best about schools’ rugby. The neutrals must have loved it!

Roscrea started strongly but St. Mary’s scored first from a penalty. It was then CCR’s turn to take the lead for the only time with a super try in the corner from Jay Culleton. Alas St. Mary’s went over for a try shortly afterwards to retake the lead, Some great surges by Captain Michael Milne, fellow prop Josh Wycherly and No. 8 Neal Moylett gave Roscrea a lot of confidence and brought them deep into St. Mary’s territory. A penalty from Out Half Billy Foley levelled the match – it was to be the last score of the first half – Roscrea having to defend stoutly for most of the latter 15 minutes of the half. Indeed they were lucky when a forward pass deprived St. Mary’s of a try just before the interval.

A sense that having defended well against a stiff breeze and not given up a try in the latter part of the first half, gave us confidence that the odds favoured our lads. And they did start the second half with gusto, but a superb counter attack saw St. Mary’s centre Tim McMahon split our defence wide open with an amazing run and score a wonderful individual try. Worse was to come and soon it was 22-8 and things looked bad. And then a penalty near half way gave a chance to go for the corner and a typical forwards’ try ensued with Michael Milne touching down. Game on!

Minutes later, Full Back Tadhg Bird went on a dazzling run comparable to the earlier St. Mary’s one, and just when we wondered should he not pass to his winger outside, he went over for a sensational try. When Billy Foley nailed the touchline conversion (like the one his brother landed on that day of days at the RDS in 2015) the sides were level.

Alas, St. Mary’s were not finished and their left winger Eoin Carey scored two tries in the same corner to leave it 32-22. By then we were heading for 70 minutes but the never say die attitude of CCR saw them force another try (Milne again) with the last move of the match to leave the final score: St. Mary’s 32 CCR 29.

We can be absolutely proud of this team –  they gave it their all. It was thrilling game of rugby. With hindsight they could have (some will say should have) won it, but it was not to be.

On another note – a phone call yesterday from Tom O’Connell (CCR 1967-’72) gave me the news that he has just sold the restaurant where we’ve had so many wonderful pre-match lunches over the years. Today was literally the first day on the job for new owner Chef Oliver Dunne who also owns and operates three other restaurants, Michelin starred Bon Appetit in Malahide, as well as Beef and Lobster and Cleaver East in Dublin City Centre. Tom has every confidence that Oliver will live up to Tom’s high standards – we, alas have the best part of a year to decide whether it will still be a worthy (even affordable) venue for our pre-match lunches!

​We will be sad to see Tom leave the Donnybrook stage – he has looked after us so well through the years, but we wish him and Annette the very best. One of my great memories is of a group of 25 attending a pre-match lunch the day CCR beat Blackrock in 2015, that number swelling to 100 for the drawn semi final v Newbridge​ and our taking over the entire place with 200 or so the day of the final! Great memories – great food! Thank you Tom and Annette!  And of course on so many occasions, Tom fed the teams after the matches too!

Now for the CCR Ball on Saturday to celebrate the anniversary of the saving of CCR!


​All the best,


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