‘Punches, kicks and mass brawls’
Sir, – The carry-on at the infamous Colours match between Trinity and UCD in 1977 was vividly recalled by Ruaidhrí Croke in “Punches, kicks and mass brawls: The 1977 colours match had it all” (Sports, December 1st).
That match, however, was hand-bag stuff compared to a Munster Junior Cup match played in Thomond Park in 1942. The teams concerned were Crescent Old Boys and Young Munster and such was the savagery of the match that referee Paddy O’Sullivan sent no less than nine players to the sideline, and for his trouble, he himself was assaulted after the match.
“The match in ferocity would have matched any of the hand-to-hand combats of the battles being fought in Europe at present,” wrote Jimmy O’Donovan in the Limerick Leader. “A section of the spectators, whose chief hobbies were to hurl insulting epithets at the referee’s every decision given against Young Munster, and to incite the members of that side to commit acts not in accordance with the rules of the game.”
Six from the Young Munster side, and three from Crescent, got their marching orders. One of the Crescent players with memories of that infamous match was the late Paddy Reid, Grand Slam winner in 1948. A callow youth of 18, still attending Crescent College, he was thrown into the cauldron like a Christian to the lions. “Nine players were put off the field and a full-scale riot followed,” he recalled. “I didn’t go near the fight. I went around the back of the stand to avoid it. But then, cycling home on Shelbourne Road, Young Munster supporters battered me with sods of turf.” Even at that tender age, Paddy was the star of the match, scoring a try, a drop goal and penalty goal.
When suspensions were handed out to the Young Munster miscreants, the president of the Munster Branch and Mayor at the time, DJ O’Malley, said it was not enough, the offending club should have been suspended. “I could not legislate for rugby football in Munster where organised blackguardism took place and where the committee failed to mete out sufficient punishment to the offending club by suspending them,” he stated. He resigned despite appeals that he should stay on.– Yours, etc,