Sports

For the first time ever there will be a top class high school rugby team from Limerick, Ireland here in Manhasset on Thursday April 5 at 7 p.m.

The game will be played under the lights on the Manhasset High School football field, and admission is free. Parents, students, teachers and educators are invited to come and enjoy the game and join afterwards at a reception at Sullivan's Quay in Port Washington.

The home team will be a LI Colts invitational comprised of players

from several different schools on Long Island, namely, Glen Cove, East Islip, Sayville, Garden City, Port Washington, Manhasset and Chaminade.

The Irish team, the Young Munster Club, has been saving for some time to visit the U.S. Michael O'Flaherty has provided some background information on the team:

"It is generally acknowledged that Limerick is the spiritual home of Irish rugby. For over 130 years organized rugby football has been played and for 113 of those years the Young Munster club has been actively involved in playing and fostering a game that continues to grow following the success of the national, provincial and local teams.

The Young Munster club can also claim to have the biggest following of players, members and supporters in Ireland and the club always has an eye toward the future by organizing youth tours to help the younger players broaden their horizons. This year a group of players of 16 years and under will carry the flag for the club in Boston and New York.

"This will be the latest of such tours to the USA and like the others will, no doubt, be an outstanding success for all concerned. Much has changed since the early years when the fledgling game began to take root in Ireland. It is generally accepted that the origins of the game can be traced back to Rugby School in England in 1823 when the 16-year-old William Webb Ellis who, "with a fine disregard for the rules of football as played then, took the ball in his hands and ran with it."

"Thus Ellis, who had strong Irish connections, originated this distinctive feature of the game. However rugby as played in Limerick at that time was largely hit or miss. Any group of boys could form a team and compete in local competition if they had the necessary entry fee.

At the time it was common for boys living in Carey's Road, Boherbui, and Parnell Street areas to play impromptu rugby matches in a nearby green area now called the Peoples Park. As the games became more regular and somewhat organized it was decided to form a team. In 1895 the Tyler Shoe Company sponsored a cup for club teams with an age limit of 18 years.

"Paddy Flavin and Michael O'Brien took over and a decision was taken to enter a team for the cup. The entry fee was raised through local subscription and the club, to be called Young Munster, was one of 10 teams to compete for the cup. And not for the first time in their history, Young Munster would surprise more experienced opposition by defeating Crescent College in the final by 13 points to 6.

"It was the best possible start for a club that would go on to win the cup on several occasions and to field teams in several grades up to junior. In the following years adult teams would be successful in winning the Munster Junior Cup, Transfield Cup, the City Cup for players of 20 years and under, and youth teams in many under age grades would bring further glory to the black and amber.

But there was to be a dramatic change in Ireland and the many countries involved in World War I saw all rugby suspended between 1914 and 1919. There was only a partial resumption until 1922 when the Young Munster club sought and was granted senior status.

Their first senior trophy wins came in 1928 when the Munster Senior Cup was won for the first time. Indeed Young Munster was the first club from the province of Munster to win this most prestigious trophy.

The club continued to expand and field teams in all age groups from senior down to under 8 for 113 years. In the 1992-93 season the Young Munster won its second national title when defeating St. Mary's College at Lansdowne Road to win the All Ireland League.

Over the years the club has supplied players for Munster and Irish teams.


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