A report from The Tipperary People of 1888, describing a rugby game between St. Ailbe’s College, Tipperary, and Knocknavoher Republicans, perhaps from Co. Cork. The game was in its infancy at that time, having only been codified around 17 years previous. The text reads more like a battlefield report than a sports bulletin. (Note the references “flying halves” and also a withering assessment of the performance of poor W.S. O’Brien…)
The Tipperary People: 3 February 1888
On Sunday last Knocknavoher Republicans travelled to Emly to have a friendly ‘set to’ with St. Ailbe’s College.
At two o’clock the leather was thrown in by Mr. C. McGrath, who acted as referee, the mill commenced with a scrummage and for ten minutes nothing like play was seen, but Hackett getting possession punted to Hennessy who carried the leather well into the Republican ground, where work was very hot for 5 minutes, after which the Republicans were forced to touch over in defence. Slattery getting his ‘free’ from the 40 yards, scored the point for the College.
Kick out saw St. Ailbe’s ground invaded, and with a good rush the Republicans scored a point, kick out from St. Ailbe’s with Davy Hennessy in possession, the Republicans’ goal was in danger for some time, when they were again forced to touch in defence, which Slattery converted into a point. Half time and the play was excellent, Slattery scoring another point for the College from off side by a splendid screw kick. After kick off the Republicans rushed the ball down the field and added another point to their score. Play for the remainder of the time was chiefly in the Republican territory.
The College flying halves Hackett and Hennessy were well watched. We noticed W.S. O’Brien in bad form.
Umpires, for St. Ailbe’s, Tim Crowe, Republicans, W. Beary.