The branch of the Catholic Young Men's Society, of which the Terenure based club are the sporting wing, was founded in 1904. For the 75th anniversary in 1979, a commemorative brochure was produced which admitted to a complete shadow over the birth of the cricket section.
At the suggestion of Michael Dalton, I started to research those hazy days before the War to End All Wars and while my search was to prove difficult, often frustrating and extremely time- consuming, it was ultimately reasonably successful and satisfying for many reasons, one of which was that I discovered a family link with the dawn of C.Y.M.C.C.
The Terenure Club weren't the first CYMS to play cricket, in 1878 The Irish Times reported on a game between Roscrea CYM in Nenagh in which Roscrea scored 32 and 75 and Nenagh were all out for 9 and 43. In August the following year, Roscrea Young Men's Society beat Templemore C.C. at "the ground of the former, Corville" by eight wickets.
There is also a reference in The Irish Times of 18 August, 1882 to a game the next day: "CYMA v Cahra, CYMA Ground. "This is the only reference to such a side and no result appeared. It may have been a typesetting mistake and should have read "YMCA" but that club was generally described at that time as Dublin YMCA and they played their home games in the Nine Acres.
The first true signs of the genesis of CYM appeared in The Irish Times on 29th April, 1902 with a report of a meeting held the night before in the club moms, Richmond Hill, Rathmines of Osmond C.C. the officers that season were to be Christopher Doyle (captain), William O'Farrell (vice-captain), Michael Doyle (treasurer) and Arthur J.O'Flanagan Hon. secretary) of St. Catherine's Avenue, Donore Avenue, South Circular Road. The notice also announced that the season would begin on Saturday, 3 May when a captain's versus vice-captain's match would take place in the Public Cricket Ground, Phoenix Park, at 4 o'clock.
Christy Doyle was one of the founder members of CYM and a player right into the 1920s. He lived in Clanbrassil Street and with a Secretary from Donore Avenue and a ground in Rathmines, Osmond C.C. was clearly an early Dublin 6 based club. And while no scores survive of its games that season, it was clearly one of the precursors of CYM.
Born in 1879, Christopher Doyle was my father's Uncle Christy, a small wiry man with a luxuriant white moustache and whiskers which meant we called him Uncle Vickers. In cricket circles they called him Kit. He howled slow left arm and once took all ten wickets for eleven runs in a representative match between North Dublin and South Dublin. He also hit the winning runs.
Several of his sons played for CYM including Paddy (who played on the Galway team that lost an Irish Junior Cup Final at Rush in 1951) and Tommy, who emigrated to Australia while 1 'b was researching this article. Their father, Kit Doyle, died in 1972 aged 93.
Tommy remembers his father telling him about the genesis of CYM and the people involved. Canon Fricker of Rathmines prevailed upon P.J. Daniels and a Mr. McCausland to set up a branch of the C.Y.M.S. and the St. Kevin's Branch of the Boys Brigade were subsumed into the new organisation. The society, according to Tommy's father's account, was started in a room over Christy Bird's antique shop in Richmond Street. It later moved to a house on the South Circular Road which was owned by Alderman Tom Kelly and afterwards to Nos 9-10 Hanington Street.
TRYING TO SEE WHY
Before the First World War there was no senior league in Leinster. The big clubs, Phoenix, Leinster and Dublin University, played frequent two-day challenge games against each other and against the Curragh and Dublin Garrisons, and for a while against Sir Stanley Cochrane's professional-packedXI at Woodbrook. English professional touring sides were regular visitors and College Park was a fixed part of the itinerary for touring test teams. South Africa (3 times) Australia (twice) and West Indies (as late as 1923) all played Dublin University.
Other metropolitan clubs like Pembroke, Clontarf and Civil Service occupied a middle stratos. But a thriving Junior League and Minor League were in operation which featured the Seconds and Thirds of the main Dublin clubs (but not the big three) and other sides like Railway and Steam Packel Union (who still exist having dropped the Steam Packet bit), the Great South Western Railway, St. James's Gate, Sandymount, YMCA, Palmerstown Workingmen's, Sackville Hall and Fairview.
Below this layer of activity was a further level of friendly cricket played in the city by a myriad of clubs who came and went with dizzying frequency. Many played their games in the Phoenix Park where, besides the top grounds of Phoenix, Civil Service, and the Vice-Regal Lodge and Garrison Ground, there were more than twenty cricket squares, many available to the public.
Several of these peripatetic clubs crop up in early CYM fixture list. Sides like Arranmore, Molyneux, and Donore had no grounds of their own but used the public fields or rented from big clubs. There were even two clubs for members of the Jewish faith: Carlisle and the Dublin Jewish Athletic Association. Soon, there won't even be one.
CYM, for whatever reason, became attached to the Leinster Cricket Club, which had been active in the Rathmines area for more than 50 years at that stage. Besides the large oval in Observatory Lane which survives to this day, there was another cricket ground, Richmond Hill, behind the old Leinster bowling green (where the new pavilion was recently erected).
A photograph printed in the Leinster C.C. 125th anniversary brochure in 1977 shows the main ground around 1920 with the bowling green beside the old cricket pavilion. The caption draws attention to a soccer pitch on the right where CYM played. A bowling green was laid there in 1928.
But while St Kevin's Catholic Young Men's Society was founded in 1904 it took almost six years more for enough interested members to gather to form a cricket section.
1910: EARLY PROMISE
The newspapers of the early years of the century covered cricket far more extensively than today. A tightly-packed half page 01cricket scores was a regular feature of The Irish Times on Mondays and there were always plenty of other games going on midweek. Full scoreboards were the norm, which often went down to a Third XIS. But pressure of space was starting to tell on newspapers, especially when photographs started to be used. The political and cultural climate was also changing and Irish cricket's golden age was starting to decline. A rough indicator of this is that cricket coverage in The Irish Times was cut by more than half between 1910 and 1920.
The first mention of the club came in The Irish Times on the 5 May in the fixtures of Molyneux C.C. Two dates were set: 14 May at CYM and 17 September at home. If this was the first game for CYM then they were delayed for the sort of reason one could not imagine to-day: The death of a monarch, King Edward VII on 6 May, 1910 which meant games were postponed until the funeral was over. One can't quite see Johnny Dawson and Derek Brennan calling a halt to the Lewis Traub League just because the Queen Mother croaks it.
The Irish Times own staff side also sets dates v “Catholic Young Men's Society" for 21 May and 16 July. The first of those games was played at Shelbourne Park at 2.45 p.m. on Saturday afternoon. The late start time reflected the fact that CYM was a club for working men and in those days meant working Saturday mornings.
The newspapermen batted first, and when opener 1.Gibbons scored a solid 21, the rest of the team made just ten between them and a total of 31 presented a good day's work for those original predecessors of Plates and Fiery.
There were two O'Connors playing for CYM and it could have been either L or S or the two of them, but seven wickets fell to someone of that name and the other three to F Keenan. As was to be the case on many occasions over the next 86 years, a small total took a lot of getting. Too much getting on this day, and CYM collapsed to 20 all out, with a top individual score of 8.
No other games were reported until 24 June when Talbot United were hosts at "the Meadow", Grand Canal. A far more formidable total was posted this time, 129, with wicketkeeper/opening batsman W. Walsh making 28. Talbot United were routed for 52 although no bowling details survive.
The first home game reported was played at Richmond Hill on 6 July, CYMS were all out for 85 with one of the O'Connors making 28, another one 19 and Number 9, Christy Doyle run out for 16. Uncle Vickers' late flourish was to prove decisive as CY ran out winners by just four runs. Doyle, Keenan and M. O'Connor each took three wickets.
The return game with The Irish Times took place at Richmond Hill on 19 July. This time CY made 88 (E.Whelan top-scoring with 23) which was twice as many as The Irish Times could muster. L & M O'Connor took four wickets apiece.
Two more games were recorded in the newspapers that summer, a visit to Workingmens on 3 August (no result however) and a return match with Arranmore at Richmond Hill on Thursday 11 August when CY's total of 63 was to much for Arranmore's 32.
1911: QUIET CONSOLIDATION?
The fixtures printed in early May showed The Irish Times games being renewed (26 August) while a friendly against YMCA was set for Richmond Hill on 1 July and Molyneux for Charlgove Park.
The only game reported that season by The Irish Times or Freeman's Journal was at Clontarf on Monday 5 June when Hibernian Marine School made 73 and beat CYM by five runs.
1912 MINOR GLORY
Despite that seemingly anonymous 1911 season, CYM were accepted into the Minor League Division B for 1912 where they were to compete against Palmerstown 2, Pembroke 3, Railway and Steam Packet Union 2, Clontarf 3, GSWR 2 (they played at Inchicore) Sandymount (Park Avenue), Fairview (Croydon Park), and Ordinance Survey (Mountjoy Crossroads).
Very few of these results survived in The Times or The Journal (oddly it seemed easier to get friendly games printed) and the only one of the 16 games fixed that was reported on was the ninth on 13 July when CYM lost to Sandymount by 139 runs.
Three Sandymount batsmen scored fifties including Douglas Pickeman (71 not out) who later played for Pembroke and Leinster and for Ireland in 1926. According to the Who's Who of First Class Cricketers, Pickeman's date of birth is unknown but circa 1900 which meant he was just 12 when he flayed the CYM howling. M. O'Connor was again the best bowler taking 69 five wickets as Sandymount notched 210-6. Boylan made 16, L. O'Co~or 15 as CYM were all out for 71.
Searching through the microfilms of old newspapers in the Gilbert Library in Pearse Street, At Civil Service Grounds 20 September, 1912 I despaired of The Irish Times sports editor of long ago. Where was the evidence of this landmark first competitive season of a club destined to rank alongside the 'Premier' clubs in a Y.M.C.A. v C.Y.M.S. couple of generations?
While perusing these files (every issue from April to September from 1900 to 1914) I usually stopped searching around the fust week in September but some unseen hand kept me riffling through the volume for 1912 and sure enough I came across a nugget in the fixtures for 20 September: YMCA v CYMS at the Civil Service Grounds in the Leinster Minor League Final!
The weather was far from clement at that late stage in September and play had to be resumed the next day, and two days after that as well. But on 23 September, 1912, CYM claimed their first cricket trophy.
YMCA batted first and were all out for 101, Exley top scoring with 32 but Keenan mopped up the tail with a five-for. CYM's first innings gave them a useful lead of ten runs with W. Walsh making 52 and 1.Brennan an unbeaten 21. M. O'Connor was the next hero up for CYM, taking six wickets as YMCA were dismissed for 73. Going into the third evening's play, CYM were 26-2, still needing 38 to win in the gloom of late September.
This notable event in CYM cricket history was not to capture the imagination of newspaper editors: The Times printed the full scoreboard (without bowling analysis) and one sentence outlining the bare result but the Freeman's Journal was moved to a more flowery explanation, albeit confined to one glorious and inaccurate sentence.
"After play ceased on Saturday CYMS were only 38 runs behind with eight wickets to fall and these runs were obtained by some steady bowling (sic) by R and M O'Connor and I. Ryan." In the interests of posterity the full scorecard is printed over.
1913 : Missing
The biggest of all the mysteries that still surround pre-War CYM concerns the 1913 season. Following the notable win in the Minor League final, a promotion to Junior might have been expected or at the very least a consolidating presence in the Minor. But when the league structures were revealed that April, there was no sign of the heroes of Richmond Hill. The minor league lined up with the 2nd Xls for RHMS, Sandymount, RSPU, Wanderers and Merrion and the 3rd XIS from Palmerstown, Clontarf and Pcmbroke. Perhaps first of the Great Narks in Leinster Cricket in which CYM were to take a central role!
But despite the setback, the club continued to play regular friendlies throughout the 1913 season. The, by now, traditional fixtures with YMCA were renewed while there were also games against Casino (at Malahide Road) and Clondalkin. The only result published was that against Sandymount when CYM chasing 44 were all out for 26 with Kearns taking a notable 7 for 7.
1914: STILL MISSING
It was clear by now that it would probably take a World War to get CYM back into competitive cricket and, thankfully for Terenure, Gavrilo Princip obliged (No, he wasn't some ancient precursor of Michael Sharp).
The Irish Times sports pages for the April of that epochal summer printed fixture lists for all the main clubs in Leinster but not even the humblest 3rd XI were down to take on CYM. In fact the only reference to the club in the two national daily papers' that summer was to two fixtures against old pals YMCA on 23 May and 16 July, but the results of neither were published.
The Minor League trophy won two years before was won by a club this is now better known for white balls: Pembroke Wanderers and Sackville Hall both won 12 of their 14 games but Pembroke were awarded the league with a runs-per-wicket each of 10.98 to 10.24 of Sackville Hall. The tumult of the times can perhaps be seen in the final league table which announced that Clontarf's 3rd XI had resigned and Fairview were disqualified.
ALL QUIET ON THE RICHMOND FRONT.. .
When cricket resumed five years later, it was a different Dublin. The 1916 rebellion had set in motion an inexorable chain of events which would end in independence. Many Irishmen had fought and died in the war in Europe, one chilling example is the Trinity First XI of 1913 which lost four of its members and saw two others decorated for valour. Altogether 17 former Trinity cricketers were killed in the war. The first post-war season saw the inauguration of the Leinster Senior League with eight members: Dublin University, Phoenix, Leinster, Railway & Steam Packet Union, Royal Hiberian Marine School and Pembroke. There were three lesser leagues: Junior, Intermediate and Minor; CYM were to be found in the Intermediate. One published score saw them score 157-6 against King's Hospital at Blackhall Place and several of the pre-war heroes had resumed action (Walsh 42 no, Daly 30, Cox 21, Byrne 16, Christy Doyle 15) K H passed the score for the loss of six wickets (Thornberry 3/49, Daly 2/41, Keenan 1/50).
AND ON TO TERENURE
By 1923 CYM had been promoted to Junior and a 2nd XI was competing in the Minor League, but most importantly they were their own masters having moved on from Richmond Hill to the new ground where they still play. Tommy Doyle, now in his late 70% remembered going to see CYM in Richmond Hill as a small boy and entering along Observatory Lane via Leinster Cricket Club.
He remembers that, before each game, players would have to pick up sheep droppings off the square. Tommy also remembered painting the eight foot corngated fence that surrounded Terenure twice in 1938, during the builder's strike.
In his contribution to the 1979 booklet, former cricketer Jim Culliton remembered the old days of Richmond Hill and mentioned some of the names of cricketers who were playing then; of those he wrote about, some were part of the pre-War story and others were clearly their descendants.
"Mr. C. Murray (Father of the present Governor of the Central Bank), Mr. Eugene O'Carroll, Mr. E. Walsh, Mr. J. Sharkey, Mr. Brady (father of Cormac and Michael), Mr. Ned McKiernan, Mr. Jack Early (a contemporary of Sir William Orpen the famous painter), Mr. Sep Reilly (a famous ten wicket bowler) Mr. Eddie Boylan, Mr. Bobby Wallace, Mr. Noel Purcell, Mr. Tom Brabazon, Mr. P. Keddie, Mr. Tom Dillon, Mr. W. Kearns, Mr. P. Kerrigan, Mr. Harry Johnstone, Mr. J. Fassbender, Mr. Kit Doyle, Mr. P. Daniels, Mr. Andy Keenan, Messrs. Tom and Kevin Browner (mighty hitters), Messrs Tom Wattie and Willie Goff (who cleared the decks at the Annual Sports), the McMenamins, pere et fils, Mr "Larwoos' O'Toole, Mr. Eddie (Bugs) Daly."
Tommy Doyle added a few more names from the Richmond era: Michael Gibney, the% Nolans (Don and Simon, the later became a priest) Billy Batt, (whose widow is stdl alive), Tommy and Billy Martin, Larry O'Sullivan, Dimy Bergin (solicitor to Allied Irish Banks), Arthur "the Bookie" Byrne (who ran a bookmaker's shop on Harold's Cross bridge and emigrated to Canada aged 69) and the Moms family.
An account of the leaving of Richmond Hill is also contained in Jim Culliton's article: "an estimate was sought for painting the pavilion but it was found to be cheaper to buy a new ground and build a new pavilion, whatever the reason".
We must put this down to Mr. Culliton's sense of humour but Tommy Doyle does recall a sum of two thousand pounds being spent initially on Terenure which probably wouldn't cover the cost of painting the boundary walls (excluding material) these days.
There must have been more good days than bad days for the men who worked so hard to make CYM the senior dub it is now, with two fine well-painted pavilions. Their love of the game must have kept them going through times when fixtures were hard to get, when good players were plucked off to senior clubs, when the authorities were unhelpful to a new club. But because of men like the O'Connors, Walsh, Keenan and Uncle Kit Doyle there was the solid foundation on which to build a senior club. It would be sad even shameful if their contribution to CYM cricket was ever forgotten, and perhaps this article will help keep memories of these men alive.