Cork Constitution FC

Club History

2010 - Present : Cork Con FC win AIL 2016/17

The Munster Senior Cup was won for the 24th time in a dramatic final at the Mardyke in November 2012, when UL-Bohemian were defeated 15-14, with a last minute try by Niall O’Driscoll. And the Bateman Cup was won for a historic first time when St Mary’s College were defeated 29-14 in the final at Templeville Road in April 2013. Ronan O’Gara retired from Munster & Ireland in 2013 and took up a coaching role with Racing Metro in Paris. Peter O’Mahony and Simon Zebo were capped for Ireland in 2012, while Stephen Archer was capped against Italy in 2013. The club’s 18th success in the Munster Junior Cup was achieved in 2012 under the captaincy of Peter O’Sullivan, when Skibbereen were defeated 13-10 in the final. However, there were defeats were by Cashel and Garryowen in the MJC finals of 2011 and 2013. The Club undertook a major €1.2m clubhouse re-development programme in 2012. After proposals for a move to Ballyorban were withdrawn, a new clubhouse and extended dressing room and gym complex was completed for a grand opening in February 2013, that coincided with Ireland Club XV v England Counties XV at Temple Hill, when Ireland were captained by the Constitution club captain, Gerry Hurley. Captain Competitions 2010-11T.D.O’RiordanF.Cogan 2011-12B.T.HumphriesG.MurrayMunster Junior Cup 2012-13F.J.O’DriscollG.HurleyBateman Cup; Munster Senior Cup 2013-14I.O’LearyG.Hurley

2000 - 2010: Professional Era

All Ireland League success was achieved in 2008 after four final defeats during the decade. Despite finishing first in the league series in 2001, ‘02, ‘04 and ’07, the play-off finals were lost to Dungannon, Shannon (twice) and Garryowen. The overdue victory eventually came against Garryowen at Musgrave Park with a 17-6 win.

The inaugural AIB Cup was won in 2005 with a big win over St Mary’s College at Lansdowne Road, when prolific wing Cronan Healy scored a hat-trick of tries. There was disappointment in 2008 when the final was reached again only to lose to Ballynahinch at Dubarry Park. But the team made amends in 2010 when they were victorious over Garryowen, despite playing with fourteen players for the entire second half. And the League & Cup double was completed for the first time in 2010 when St Marys College were beaten in the final after extra time at Dubarry Park, Athlone.

A welcome and long overdue Munster Senior Cup victory was achieved under the captaincy of Brendan Cuttriss in 2009. It was the first since 1989, the longest period that the old trophy was missing from the trophy cabinet.

There were three Munster Junior Cup successes: 2003 (Brian O’Leary, captain), 2005 (Dave O’Brien, captain) and 2008 (Robert Casey, captain) to bring the club’s total to seventeen.

Ronan O’Gara was selected for the British & Irish Lions to Australia in 2001; New Zealand in 2005 and South Africa 2009. Donnncha O’Callaghan was selected for South Africa and played in one test.

Players contracted for Munster during the period included Ronan O’Gara, Anthony Horgan, John Kelly, Frank Sheahan, Mick O’Driscoll, Donncha O’Callaghan, Denis Leamy, Denis Fogarty and Denis Hurley. They shared in Munster’s historic Heineken European Cup wins over Biarritz in 2006 and Toulouse in 2008. Ireland won four Triple Crowns in 2004,’05,’06 and added the Grand Slam in 2009 with Ronan O’Gara playing a leading role. However, success at World Cups eluded Ireland. They were defeated by France at the quarter final stage in 2003 and failed to qualify from the pool stage in 2007. Ronan O’Gara was honoured with captaincy of Ireland in 2008.

Tom Kiernan retired from IRFU committee and International Board duties in 2003, while Noel Murphy, who replaced him on the IRB, retired in 2008. Jerry Murray was honoured with the Munster Branch Presidency in 2000-01 season.

Season President Captain Competitions
2000-2001 G.J Barrett U. OCallaghan Runners up AIL
2001-2002 T.J Lynch U. OCallaghan Runners up AIL
2002-2003 J.N. Walsh I. Murray Munster Junior Cup
2003-2004 W.F. Dowling J. Murray Runners up AIL
2004-2005 B. Wain C. Mahony AIB Cup, MJC
2005-2006 M. Daly F. Cogan All Ireland Cup, Cork Charity Cup
2006-2007 M.C. Murphy F. Cogan  
2007-2008 J O'Sullivan M. O'Connell All Ireland Lge, Cork Charity Cup
2008-2009 B.V. Ludgate B. Cuttriss Munster Senior Cup
2009-2010 P.G. O'Keefe E Ryan All Ireland Lge, All Ireland Cup
President Munster Branch IRFU
2000-2001 J.E. Murray

1990 - 2000: 100 Years - All Ireland League – Open Game

The newly inaugurated All Ireland League was a huge success and injected new life into the club season. Constitution and Garryowen were the leading teams during the first season and, as fate would have it, they met in the final game at Doordoyle to decide the winner. It was as tense as any of the great games between the clubs. Constitution were victorious on a 9-3 score line, for captain Michael Bradley to collect the first AIL title. The crucial score was a second half penalty try. Constitution had a strong pack with front rows, Philip Soden, Paul Derham and Paul McCarthy, all of whom gained representative honours with Munster and Ireland ‘A’.

The club’s centenary season 1991-92 was celebrated in style with a full programme of events under President, Tom Kiernan. Donal Lenihan, who had retired from International duty, was the centenary club captain. The famous Barbarian touring team played a combined Constitution / Old Wesley XV at Temple Hill in September, while the full Irish team played a warm up game against Constitution prior to the Rugby World Cup tournament in October. Edmund van Esbeck, the noted sports journalist and a former Constitution player, wrote the script for the club Centenary History book, while Jack Kyle was the guest speaker at the Centenary Dinner held at Jury’s Hotel on 30th November 1991.

Ralph Keyes was at out half for Ireland in the World Cup games and emerged as top points scorer in the tournament. Ireland were defeated by Australia at the quarter final stage in a dramatic game in Lansdowne Road. Ken Murphy and Pat O’Hara were also members of the Irish squad.

With the All Ireland League dominating the club fixture season, it was unfortunate that the Munster club competitions declined in importance. Constitution contested two Cup finals during the period which were lost narrowly to Shannon in 1996 and Garryowen in 1999. Meanwhile the Junior XV kept the momentum going with three Cup successes under the captaincies of Peter O’Leary, Ray Clarke and Roy Healy, while Kevin Flanagan set a record of eight MJC medals. Subsequently, two finals were lost to Midleton in 1997 & 1998.

The Rugby World Cup party in South Africa in 1995, managed by Noel Murphy, included Michael Bradley, Paul Burke, Gabriel Fulcher and David Corkery. Ireland again reached the quarter final losing to France. The IRB decision in September 1995 to declare the game open to professionalism would have major consequences. It had become inevitable during the Rugby World Cup as outside forces were attempting to wrest control of players and teams. The IRFU took prudent steps over the following years to structure the professional game in Ireland via the four provincial teams. The advent of the European Rugby Cup in 1997 then gave a competitive platform for players from which to advance to the national team.

However, that progress did not come in time for the 1999 World Cup tournament played in Europe. Ireland lost a play-off game with Argentina and failed to make the quarter finals. That event was a turning point in Ireland’s attitude to professionalism which was then intensified in the following years. Donal Lenihan was Manager of the Irish team for RWC99 and assisted the transformation in attitude that followed that disappointment.

Constitution won a second All Ireland League in 1999 defeating Garryowen 11-6, after extra time in the final at Lansdowne Road. It was a new format that season with the top four teams playing off. The team, captained by Philip Soden, contained players who were also contracted to the Munster team, including John Kelly, Anthony Horgan, Ronan O’Gara, Frank Sheahan, David Corkery and Donncha O’Callaghan.


Munster reached the final of the European Rugby Cup against Northampton at Twickenham in 1999 having beaten Toulouse in Bordeaux in the semi final. It was a marvellous occasion for Munster’s huge support, but disappointing to lose 7-9.

Ken Murphy was selected for Ireland v England at Twickenham in 1990, thus becoming the third generation of his family to be capped. His father, Noel Murphy was President IRFU 1998-99, once again emulating his father who was President 1960-61.

Nine players affiliated to the club were capped during the decade: Donal Lenihan’s international career ended in 1992, having won 54 caps, 24 as captain. Michael Bradley won 40 caps with 15 as captain – his last appearance was against New Zealand in 1995 World Cup. Paul Burke won his first cap against England in 1995 while a playing member with Constitution. David Corkery won 27 caps between 1992 &1997, when a serious leg injury ended his career prematurely. Gabriel Fulcher won 21 caps between 1994 & 1995. Pat O’Hara won 15 caps between 1988 & 1994. Ken Murphy won 11 caps – the same number as his grandfather. Ralph Keyes won 8 caps, while prop forward Paul McCarthy won 5 caps.

In 1994 the club appointed former President, Bill Jones, as part-time club administrator, to oversee day-to-day operations, including the management of sponsorship and advertisement portfolios that were becoming increasingly important to the club finances. Spectator facilities at Temple Hill were greatly improved during the decade with the erection of terraces to enclose the main playing pitch.

Season President Captain Competitions
1990-1991 A.J. Horgan M.T. Bradley AIL
1991-1992 T.J. Kiernan D.G. Lenihan Cork Charity Cup, Munster Junior Cup
1992-1993 P.J.F ODonovan L.M. Dinneen Munster Senior Cup
1993-1994 W.F. Jones C.M. Murphy Munster Senior Cup, Cork Charity Cup
1994-1995 J.E. Murray L.M. Dinneen Cork Charity Cup
1995-1996 W.T. Morrissey D.P. OMahony Munster Senior Cup
1996-1997 R.L. Kahn N.R. Murray  
1997-1998 J.J. Gillane K.J.Murphy Munster Senior League
1998-1999 J.N. Murphy P.J. Soden AIL
1999-2000 W.J. Casey J.J. Murray  
President Munster Branch IRFU
1998-1999 N.A. Murphy

1980 - 1990: Triple Crowns & Munster Cups

A new dressing room complex was added in the1980-82 period at Temple Hill, while the roadway was re-aligned and a new boundary wall and entrance ramp built.

The Munster Junior Cup was won in emphatic style in 1982. Finian O’Driscoll captained the team that beat Shannon 43-7 at Thomond Park after a gruelling replayed semi final win over Thomond. Youngsters Michael Bradley and Ralph Keyes starred at half back. Donal Lenihan, already an established international joined the club from UCC in 1984, and together with Moss Finn and Anthony O’Leary, formed the core of excellent teams. They were to spearhead much success throughout the decade. The squad was reinforced by dedicated junior team players who won five Munster Junior Cups during the period.

The Senior Cup was won in 1983 under the captaincy of Chris Cantillon when Shannon were beaten 15-9 with Moss Finn and Michael Bradley scoring the decisive tries. Rea Kennedy’s team retained the Junior Cup beating Old Christians 9-6 in the final. Thus a third Senior-Junior double was achieved.

Anthony O’Leary was captain in 1985 when Shannon were defeated 12-7 in the Munster Senior Cup final with John Barry scoring all the points. However, there was disappointment in a 9-18 Junior Cup final defeat to Thomond, one of many great contests with the other Junior Cup specialists of the period. Noel Murphy, son of Noel A., won the Junior Cup in 1986 after a replayed final with Young Munster and Trevor Barry, a popular captain and clubman, retained the trophy with a 9-4 victory over Garryowen at Thomond Park in 1988.

Michael Bradley was captain in 1989 when a late penalty by Ken Murphy secured a narrow 13-12 Munster Cup victory over Shannon. Ken and Charlie Murphy, Niall Murray and Stephen Hayes. all sons of fathers who had won Cup medals previously, added to the family collections.

On the international front, in 1982 Tom Kiernan coached Ireland to their first Triple Crown success since 1949, with Donal Lenihan and Moss Finn as team members. The feat was repeated in 1985 when Michael Bradley was scrum half. The IRB launched the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand in 1987 and the Irish party, captained by Donal Lenihan, included Michael Bradley and Derek McGrath.

The IRFU made the long-desired decision to introduce an All Ireland League for club competition and the qualifying process was put in train in 1987. Constitution qualified for the 1st Division with two Munster Senior League wins in 1988 & 1989, though they had to win a crucial game in 1990 against Young Munster to seal the place.

The Juvenile section broke new ground in 1990 when they played in a European tournament at Roche la Moliere in France. The Under 12 XV, under Fred Casey’s management, scored a historic win. They team featured a precocious pair at half back: Peter Stringer and Ronan O’Gara, of whom much more will he heard in future years.

A minor, but significant, change to the club’s rule book was passed at the AGM in 1989, when the club’s official name was restored to Cork Constitution FC, after many years where the city appellation had been dropped.

Noel Murphy was President Munster Branch, IRFU in 1987-88, again following in the footsteps of his late father. Tom Kiernan was honoured as President IRFU in 1988-89.

Season President Captain Competitions
1980-1981 M.J. Keyes M.C. Murphy  
1981-1982 N.A. Murphy C.D. Cantillon Munster Junior Cup
1982-1983 G.A. OConnell C.D. Cantillon Munster Senior Cup, Munster Junior Cup, Cork Charity Cup
1983-1984 D.G. Whelan M.C. Finn Munster Senior League, Cork Charity Cup
1984-1985 B.D. OShaughnessy A.F. OLeary Munster Senior Cup
1985-1986 F.OLeary P.D.Derham Cork Charity Cup, Munster Junior Cup
1986-1987 O.E.Hill J.P.Barry Munster Senior League, Cork Charity Cup, Munster Junior Cup
1987-1988 D.C.Hill M.C.Finn Munster Senior League, Munster Junior Cup
1988-1989 C.J.Bourke M.T.Bradley Munster Senior Cup,
1989-1990 J.S.Waldron R.P.Keyes  
President Munster Branch IRFU
1987-1988 N.A Murphy
President IRFU
1988-1989 T.J. Kiernan

1970 - 1980: All Blacks defeated

Munster Senior League success continued in the Seventies, although competition from Garryowen, Dolphin, UCC and latterly Shannon, brought an end to the unbeaten run of nine consecutive titles. Jerry Murray captained the 1972 team to another ‘grand slam’ of Cup, League and Charity Cup culminating in a record 30-6 Cup final victory over Garryowen at Musgrave Park.

The Cup was retained in 1973 with Stan Waldron as captain, but that was to be the last Cup success of the decade. John Hogan was captain of the Junior XV which captured the Munster Junior Cup in 1973 beating Bandon in the final, to complete the second Senior / Junior double. In 1975, having defeated Garryowen 18-9 in the League final at Thomond Park, there was disappointment to lose to them in the Cup final at Musgrave Park on a score line of 4-6. Tony Ward, in his first Cup campaign, kicked two penalties to eclipse Dave Meagher’s first half unconverted try.

A Munster Senior League treble was achieved in 1975-77 period, while another League title was won in 1979 under Barry McGann’s captaincy.

When Noel Murphy and Tom Kiernan retired from the playing arena, they became involved in coaching at club level, before moving on to Munster and Ireland. Noel Murphy coached the Munster team that drew 3-3 with the All Blacks at Musgrave Park in 1973, while Tom Kiernan had a major success with Munster when the All Blacks were famously beaten 12-0 at Thomond Park in October 1978. Donal Canniffe, who had moved to Lansdowne in 1974, was captain, while Jimmy Bowen, Greg Barrett, Moss Finn and Chris Cantillon all starred on the day. Noel Murphy was Asst. Manager/Coach to the Lions in South Africa in 1980, and in September, he brought the Lions to Musgrave Park, where they played a Cork Constitution Presidents XV.

Tom Kiernan’s international career ended against Scotland in 1973. He won 54 caps and captained Ireland in 24 games. Jimmy Bowen was capped for Ireland in 1977 while Barry McGann won the last of 25 caps against New Zealand in 1976. Bertie Smith was selected for the first Ireland ‘B’ team which played France in 1976.

End of season club tours became a feature during the Seventies. There were successful tours to Zambia & Kenya 1971; New York & Philadelphia 1973 and Montreal, Calgary and Vancouver, Canada 1980.

The club facilities at Temple Hill were expanded with the addition of a third playing pitch in 1976.

.Tom Kiernan was Munster Branch President 1977-78

Season President Captain Competitions
1970-1971 A. Beasley B.J. McGann Munster Senior League, Cork Charity Cup
1971-1972 A. Beasley J.E. Murray Munster Senior Cup, Munster Senior Lge, Cork Charity Cup
1972-1973 J.P. Kerins J.S. Waldron Munster Senior Cup, Cork Charity Cup
1973-1974 A.O Leary N.J.Murphy Cork Charity Cup
1974-1975 G.D. Horgan W.J.Casey Munster Senior League
1975-1976 E. OConnor S.Waldron Munster Senior League
1976-1977 C.J Connolly S.D.Smith Munster Senior League
1977-1978 J.V, Reardon H.A.Smith  
1978-1979 L. Mackesy B.J.McGann Munster Senior League
1979-1980 P.E Mulcahy J.G.Barrett  
President Munster Branch IRFU
1977-1978 T.J. Kiernan

1960 - 1970: The Greatest Decade

Constitution had by now settled very well into the Temple Hill grounds. The club had added an extended hall and bar to the existing dressing rooms and two playing pitches. The facility had become a popular venue with social events adding much needed revenue to the club coffers, and George O’Connell and Ned Fitzgerald became known to a generation of teenage dance goers.

Ray Hennessy was captain when Garryowen were beaten 11-6 at Thomond Park in the 1961 Munster Senior Cup final. The win gave renewed confidence, as a number of young players came through, and together with Noel Murphy, now an established international player, and Tom Kiernan, who joined from UCC in 1963/64 season, the club had the nucleus of a side that would dominate Munster rugby throughout the decade. The Munster Senior League competition was restructured to give more competitive rugby, and Constitution rose to the challenge, setting a new standard of consistency for club rugby. In all, the club won five Munster Senior Cup and seven successive Munster Senior League titles during the period.

There were two ‘grand slams’ of Cup, League and Charity Cup in 1967 and 1970. The 1967 success with Jerry Murray, Captain, and Jim Donovan, President, coincided with the celebrations to mark the 75th anniversary of the club’s foundation. Tom Kiernan was captain in 1970 when Garryowen were beaten in both Cup and League finals.

Noel Murphy and Tom Kiernan played with Ireland throughout the decade and were both honoured with captaincy. Noel Murphy gained his second Lions tour to Australia & New Zealand in 1966, while Tom Kiernan was selected as Captain of the Lions tour to South Africa in 1968, having previously toured South Africa in 1962. Barry McGann joined the club in 1966, and although moving to Lansdowne for two seasons, was a key player in the successes at the later end of the decade. Noel Murphy’s international career ended against Wales in a Triple Crown decider at Cardiff in 1969. He won 41 caps and captained Ireland in five games.

Tom Kiernan captained Munster against the All Blacks at Thomond Park in 1963. A gallant performance by Munster resulted in a narrow 3-6 defeat. Noel Murphy and Jerry Murray were also members of the team. They, together with Anthony Horgan and Liam Coughlan, were also on the 1967 team against Australia that gained the first ever 11-8 victory for Munster over a southern hemisphere touring team.

Noel F.Murphy was IRFU President 1960-61, during which he also managed the Irish party to South Africa, when his son Noel was a member of the squad. Dr Reg Sutton, the much-respected and one-time medical advisor to the club, was honoured as President Munster Branch IRFU 1967-68, while former club President Tim West, representing the School’s, was Munster Branch President 1962-63.

A stand, with seating for 300 spectators, dedicated to the memory of Dan O’Connell, was built and opened in 1970 with a game against a Presidents XV, which contained many overseas international players.

Season President Captain Competitions
1960-1961 E.J Moran R. Hennessy Munster Senior Cup
1961-1962 W.E. Williams J.E. Cunningham Cork Charity Cup
1962-1963 D.F.O Connell L. Coughlan  
1963-1964 D.C. Kelleher N.A. Murphy Munster Senior Cup, Munster Senior League
1964-1965 D.C. Kelleher N.A. Murphy Munster Senior Cup, Munster Senior League
1965-1966 D.C. Kelleher T.J. Kiernan Munster Senior League
1966-1967 J.L. Donovan J.E. Murray Cork Charity Cup, Munster Senior Cup, Munster Senior League
1967-1968 J.L. Donovan A.J. Horgan Munster Senior League, Cork Charity Cup
1968-1969 J. Burke J. Pyne Munster Senior League, Cork Charity Cup
1969-1970 J. Burke T.J. Kiernan Munster Senior League, Munster Senior Cup, Cork Charity Cup
President Munster Branch IRFU
1962-1963 T.R. West
1967-1968 Dr R.C.Sutton
President IRFU
1960-1961 N.F. Murphy

1950 - 1960: A New Home at Temple Hill

When the club was put on notice by University College Cork that their long-time lease on the Mardyke would not be renewed, the members went about seeking a new home for the club. The site at Temple Hill was chosen and the land purchased. Two pitches were laid out and a small clubhouse built. The official opening was performed by Club President John Tierney, with many dignitaries in attendance including P.A.McGrath, Lord Mayor, the former club President and Captain. The opening game at the venue was against Lansdowne on September 26th 1953.

A second Munster Junior Cup under the captaincy of Charlie Connolly was won in 1951, when Old Crescent were beaten 5-3 at the Mardyke. Better was to follow when a remarkable three-in-a-row success was achieved in 1956-58. Ray Hennessy captained the first against Old Crescent 6-0; Joe Cunningham the second against Young Munster 9-3; and Dan Murphy the third, also against Young Munster, 8-0 after a replay. They reached the final again in 1959, but lost to Young Munster 0-6, after another replay.

Breen Mullen and Dermot‘Starry’Crowley were members of the Munster team that lost 3-6 to the All Blacks at the Mardyke in 1954 – Munster’s last major game at the venue.

Jim Kiernan had won a Munster Senior Cup with UCC in 1955 and was captain of Constitution in 1956-57 when they defeated Dolphin 14-3 in the club’s first final at Musgrave Park. The team included Noel Murphy, son of the former International. Noel would go on to even greater glory in the years to come. He won his first cap against Australia in 1958 and was selected for the Lions to Australia & New Zealand in 1959 – the first Constitution Lion since Oliver Piper in 1910. Archie O’Leary and Marney Cunningham were also capped for Ireland during the period.

Ray Hennessy and Noel Murphy were members of the Munster team that drew 3-3 with Australia at Thomond Park in 1958. They were joined by Liam Coughlan for Munster’s game against South Africa at Musgrave Park in 1960, when late scores gave the visitors a 9-3 victory in their first visit to Munster.

Dan O’Connell was President IRFU 1951-52, while John Tierney was President Munster Branch 1956-57.

Season President Captain Competitions
1950-1951 M.T. Murphy E. Fahy Munster Junior Cup
1951-1952 J. Tierney A. OLeary  
1952-1953 J. Tierney F. OLeary Munster Senior Lge, Cork Charity Cup
1953-1954 H.J. Deane B. O Mahony  
1954-1955 H.J. Deane D. Crowley  
1955-1956 M. Kiernan D. Barry Munster Junior Cup
1956-1957 Dr. RC Sutton J.A. Kiernan Munster Junior Cup, Munster Senior Cup, Munster Senior League
1957-1958 Dr. RC Sutton A.Callanan Munster Junior Cup
1958-1959 Dr. RC Sutton T. Murphy  
1959-1960 E.J. Moran G.D. Horgan  

1940 - 1950: Munster Junior Cup Success at last

Unlike the 1914-18 period, rugby continued to be played throughout the war years 1939-45. There was however a curtailment of activity due to fuel shortages, etc. The club’s Golden Jubilee was celebrated in 1941-42 when J.Watson was President. Many of the men who had founded the club were on hand to celebrate the occasion on January 17th 1942 at the Metropole Hotel.

Ned O’Connor captained his team to success in the Munster Senior Cup in 1942 when they defeated UCC 9-3 in the final. The Cup was retained the following year when the Constitution three-quarter line was deemed to be the best of all time, and were nicknamed the ‘million dollar back line’. The captain, Cecil O’Driscoll was a much admired player who was unfortunate not to be capped, as was out half, Tommy Moroney. They scored five tries against a strong Irish Army XV winning 22-0 at Thomond Park, which had become the Branch venue in Limerick.

John Irwin was captain in 1946 when Constitution defeated Garryowen in the Munster Senior Cup final in front of a capacity crowd at the Mardyke. The game was scoreless coming to the final minutes when Moroney broke on the blind-side to release wing Tom Riordan. He had it all to do against a formidable Garryowen defence but made it to the corner to the joy of the Constitution supporters.

J.C.Daly from Cobh, who served with the Allied armies in the war, had joined Constitution and was a key player in the 1946 Cup triumph. He was selected for Ireland in the 1947 & 1948 Five Nations games and scored the winning try at Ravenhill against Wales in 1949 to secure the Triple Crown and Grand Slam, after which he was shouldered from the field by supporters who also took his jersey as a souvenir.

There was another final defeat by Richmond in 1946 before the elusive Munster Junior Cup was finally captured. After nine previous final defeats, St Mary’s were beaten 11-0 at the Mardyke in 1949. Peter Fitzgerald was the joyous first captain to lift the Cup.

The touring Wallabies played Munster at the Mardyke in December 1947 in a memorable match. Batt Hayes and Jack Mackesy were on the team that lost 5-6.

Dan O’Connell and Noel Murphy served as Presidents Munster Branch IRFU during the period.


Season President Captain Competitions
1940-1941 E.Gayer W.A. Nestor  
1941-1942 J.H. Watson E.OConnor Munster Senior Cup
1942-1943 J.Riordan C.J.ODriscoll Munster Senior Cup, Cork Charity Cup
1943-1944 P.J. Delaney C. Crowley Cork Charity Cup
1944-1945 J.J. Horgan T. Riordan Munster Senior League, Cork Charity Cup
1945-1946 J.R. Cunningham J. Irwin Munster Senior League
1946-1947 T.N. Casey J. Costigan  
1947-1948 J.V. Rearden J. Mackesy  
1948-1949 N.F. Murphy N. Nunan  
1949-1950 J.Tierney D. Crowley  

1930 - 1940: The Thirties - Changing Times

The Thirties was a fairly barren period for the club with just a single success in each of the main competitions. The team reached the Munster Senior Cup final in 1932 under the captaincy of P.J.Delaney, but lost to Garryowen 0-9 at the Market’s Field. Peculiarly, Constitution were again nominated to play in the Bateman Cup. They defeated Bective Rangers in the semi final, but were defeated by Queen’s University in the final.

J.V.Rearden was captain in 1932-33 when the Munster Senior Cup was won after a prolonged final series against Limerick Bohemian. The first two games were scoreless, but Constitution won the second replay 12-0 at the Mardyke.

In January 1933 the club acquired meeting rooms in Oliver Plunkett Street, renewing the club’s strong links with the city centre.

The team reached successive finals in 1935 and 1936 only to lose to a UCC team that had great success the late Thirties. It marked the end of the playing careers of some great clubmen such as Noel Murphy, Paddy Delaney and Jim Rearden, but also the beginning of the career of another great clubman, Ned Murphy who had played at scrum half.

There were further Munster Junior Cup final defeats at the hands of Bohemians in 1932 and Shannon again in 1939.

Noel Murphy won 11 caps between 1930-33, while Jimmy.Rearden and Jim.Egan were also capped.

Jimmy Musgrave was President IRFU 1930-31 having served as Irish selector for many years. He died suddenly in 1938, and when a new rugby ground in Cork was acquired by the Munster Branch, it was named Musgrave Park in his honour. Former Munster player E.J.Fitzgerald was Munster Branch President 1935-36.

Season President Captain Competitions
1930-1931 M.J. Murphy N.F. Murphy  
1931-1932 E.J. Fitzgerald P.J. Delaney  
1932-1933 M.M. Murphy J.V. Rearden Munster Senior Cup
1933-1934 C.J. O'Mahony P.J. Delaney  
1934-1935 P.A. McGrath J.V. Rearden  
1935-1936 B.St. Galvin M. O'Driscoll  
1936-1937 J. Mailiff E. Murphy  
1937-1938 D.F O'Connell J. McGinn  
1938-1939 D.F O'Connell C Murphy Munster Senior League
1939-1940 T.R. West E. Murphy Cork Charity Cup
President IRFU
1930-1931 J.G. Musgrave
President Munster Branch
1935-1936 E.J. Fitzgerald

1920 - 1930: The twenties

By now there were many changes to the social and sporting order after the trauma of the wars in Europe and at home. The new independent government of Ireland was in place and the old establishment structures were being dismantled. On the club scene a number of notable clubs did not survive; Cork County and Lansdowne (Limerick) did not re-appear. Newcomers to senior ranks included Young Munster, Limerick Bohemian, Dolphin and Sunday’s Well.

Dolphin had an early Munster Senior Cup success beating a strong Constitution team 5-0 in the 1921 final at the Mardyke. However Constitution, re-organised under the captaincy of P.A.McGrath, were back on top in 1922 and 1923 with two final wins over Garryowen. Constitution were nominated as Munster’s representative for the newly inaugurated Bateman Cup between the four Provincial Cup winners, though the Cup final had yet to be played. Constitution had reached the final, but delays prevented the other finalist being decided, so the Munster Branch awarded the Cup to Constitution. Thus they played in the Bateman Cup, but lost to Instonians in the semi final. Subsequently, Constitution agreed to play Garryowen in the Munster Cup final and won a heroic victory 8-0 at the Mardyke. Ivan Popham won four International caps in 1921-22 season.

H.L.Tivy stood down from Presidency in 1923 having steered the club as its main patron since its inception. The newspaper from which the club had its origins was also a victim of the new nationalist climate and ceased publication.

Constitution reached the Munster Senior Cup final in 1928 with wins over UCC and Garryowen, but lost in the final 0-6 to Young Munster. This was the famous Young Munster side that went on to win the Bateman Cup. Constitution turned the tables the following year when the teams met again. Constitution, captained by Matty Murphy, won 5-0 at the Mardyke. Matty, nicknamed ‘the Prince’, was the first of the noted family to taste success with the club. His cousin Noel was also a member of the team and was capped for Ireland against England in 1930.

R.M.Magrath had become President Munster Branch in 1920 and was further honoured as President IRFU in 1921-22. David Desmond, the first Munster Senior Cup captain, was President Munster Branch in 1927-28.

Season President Captain Competitions
1920-1921 H.L. Tivy P.A. McGrath  
1921-1922 H.L. Tivy P.A. McGrath Munster Senior Cup, Munster Senior League
1922-1923 H.L. Tivy P.A. McGrath Munster Senior Cup, Munster Senior League, Cork Charity Cup
1923-1924 J.G.Musgrave D.F.O'Connell Cork Charity Cup
1924-1925 J.G.Musgrave P. Hennessy  
1925-1926 D.Desmond F.Wilkie Cork Charity Cup
1927-1928 R.M.Magrath J.Cunningham  
1928-1929 W. Desmond M.T. Murphy Munster Senior Cup
1929-1930 T.M. Murphy J.R. McCormack Cork Charity
President IRFU
1921-1922 R.M Magrath

1910 - 1920 : War Calls a Halt

By now most of the men who had fashioned such glory for the club in the first decade of the century had retired. Apart from the Cup win in 1910 they did not have any further Cup success, as University College Cork and Garryowen dominated. However, Charity Cup and Munster Senior League successes continued. The Junior XV reached their third consecutive final in 1911 but lost again to Young Munster in a replay.

When Ireland played against France at the Mardyke in 1911, Michael Heffernan scored one of the five tries in a 25-5 victory. By then University College Cork had acquired the Mardyke grounds and Constitution had negotiated a 50 year lease to secure a long-term home for the club.

In 1913-14, the last one before war called a halt, Constitution played Garryowen three times to decide the Munster Senior Cup first round tie. Garryowen eventually won 8-5. Few, if any, could have realised that six years would pass before there would be a contest for the famous trophy that had embraced so much romance, heroism and drama since its inception.

H.C.Magrath, younger brother of R.M. Magrath was elected captain for 1914-15 season, but when war was declared on September 1st, it was decided to play charity matches only for the time-being. The last game played was the Charity Cup final against UCC on 19th December, when Constitution won 5-3. Thus Harry Magrath had the pleasure of captaining his team to its last success before all rugby activity was suspended for the duration of the war.

Many Irish rugby men enlisted for ‘King & Country’ in the greatest waste of human resources in the history of mankind. Many died in battle and H.C.Magrath met his fate at the Somme in 1916. Meanwhile, the war of independence developed from the 1916 rising and many of those who did not enlist with the army joined the Irish Volunteers locally. Cork became a hotbed of activity leading to many atrocities including the deaths of two Lord Mayors, the burning of the city in December 1920 before the eventual truce in 1921.

Despite these events, Constitution resumed playing in the 1918-19 season and retained the Charity Cup when they defeated Young Munster, who competed in south Munster due to lack of competition in Limerick. Constitution contested the Munster Senior Cup final in 1920 against Garryowen but lost 0-4 at the Market’s Field. The Junior XV also reached the Junior Cup final, but lost to Shannon 3-6 at the Mardyke – the club’s fourth final defeat.

Jimmy Musgrave was President of the Munster Branch 1913-14 and retained the position until after the war in 1919.

Season President Captain Competitions
1910-1911 H.L. Tivy J.F. Murphy Munster Senior League, Cork Charity Cup
1911-1912 H.L. Tivy J.O'Regan Munster Senior League, Cork Charity Cup
1912-1913 H.L. Tivy G. Hutchinson  
1913-1914 H.L. Tivy J.Murphy-O'Connor Munster Senior League,
1914-1915 H.L. Tivy H.C. Magrath Cork Charity Cup
1915-1918 Activities Suspended during World War I
1918-1919 H.L. Tivy F. O'Keefe Cork Charity Cup
1919-1920 H.L. Tivy D. O'Rourke Cork Charity Cup
President Munster Branch IRFU
1913-1919 J.G. Musgrave

1900 - 1910: Horizons Expand

The new century dawned and Constitution travelled to Dublin for the first time on January 23rd 1900 to play Old Wesley where Constitution won by 8 points to 6.

The final of the Cork Junior Cup brought Constitution into opposition once more against Queen’s College on March 10th. This was the fifth successive year Constitution reached the final, but a defensive mistake cost them the match. Then just before Christmas 1900, new ground was broken when Constitution set out for Wales on their first cross-channel tour.

Constitution reached their first Munster Senior Cup final in 1901. They beat Garryowen, after a replay, and Cork FC on the way to the final. The final was at Turner’s Cross against the holders, Queen’s College, who were more experienced in the arts and strategies of senior cup campaigns and won the day. A new league competition was inaugurated for senior clubs that was to become a vital part of the competitive rugby season in Munster and Constitution duly won in the first two seasons.

When the site of the 1902 Cork Exhibition at the Mardyke was re-developed as a sporting facility, Constitution and Cork County clubs took tenancies, and played the first club match against each other there in September 1904. So began a 50-year association with the first major sporting arena in Cork.

Constitution again reached the Cup final in 1905. They had fought out a tremendous replayed duel with Rockwell and just three days later on Thursday April 13th faced Queen’s College again in the final. From the outset Constitution imposed the pattern of play. The newspaper reports were unanimous in their verdict about the worthiness of the Constitution victory. And so David Desmond was the first Constitution player to lift the Munster Senior Cup as they won 11-3. The stature of the club was further recognised when Cardiff played Constitution at the Mardyke at the end of the season.

While 1905 proved to be a great year in the club’s history, the events of the following season eclipsed all previous happenings. Constitution won the Munster Senior Cup, beating Garryowen 8-0 in the final at the Market’s Field; the newly inaugurated Cork Charity Cup; the Senior League; the Cork Junior Cup and the Tramway Cup. There was no precedent in history for such success by any club.

There were two big international matches in 1905. Ireland played England at the Mardyke in February. Mossy Landers was at full back, with Basil MacLear of Cork County at centre. MacLear scored a try and convert as Ireland won 17-3. The two also played against the first All Blacks touring team, known as ‘The Invincibles’, at Lansdowne Road in December. Three further Constitution players were selected for Ireland during the period: R.M.Magrath, O.J.S.Piper and W.F.Riordan. Oliver Piper became the first Constitution player to be selected for the Lions on their tour to South Africa in 1910 playing in one test game.

Constitution reached the Munster Senior Cup final for the third successive year in 1907 defeating Rockwell and Lansdowne on the way. The final against Garryowen went to a replay before Constitution prevailed 16-3 at the Market’s Field. The three-in-a-row Cup success achieved in 1907 brought an end to a golden period for a talented squad of players and many of those retired to leave the way open for the next generation.

The Munster Junior Cup was introduced in 1908-09 season and Constitution contested the first two finals losing to Crescent College 6-7 and Garryowen 0-3.

In 1910 a fourth Senior Cup victory was achieved by a new squad of players under the captaincy of Bow Hosford when Lansdowne were beaten 8-0 at the Market’s Field to complete a Cup and League double.

P.H.Meade, a prominent businessman and city councillor, was the first member to be honoured with Presidency of the Munster Branch IRFU in 1905-06. He had been instrumental with another Constitution member, John Reese, in developing the Mardyke sports grounds. A number of members, including David Kilroy, served as Hon.Secretary Munster Branch during the period.

Season President Captain Competitions
1900-1901 H.L. Tivy M.F. Landers  
1901-1902 H.L. Tivy M.F. Landers Munster Senior League
1902-1903 H.L. Tivy A.W. Williams Munster Senior Cup
1903-1904 H.L. Tivy E. McCarthy  
1904-1905 H.L. Tivy D. Desmond Munster Senior Cup
1905-1906 H.L. Tivy J.G. Musgrave Munster Senior Cup, Cork Charity Cup
1906-1907 H.L. Tivy D. Desmond Munster Senior Cup
1907-1908 H.L. Tivy R.M. Magrath Cork Charity Cup
1908-1909 H.L. Tivy R.M. Magrath Cork Charity Cup
1909-1910 H.L. Tivy S.J. Hosford Munster Senior Cup, Cork Charity Cup

1892 - 1900: The Founding Fathers

The Cork Constitution was a well read daily newspaper in the last decade of the 1800’s. It did not publish on Sundays, thus allowing the staff to be free on Saturday afternoons. Members of staff formed a cricket club, but cricket is a summer pursuit and obviously prompted by the enjoyment derived from their summer activities, thoughts turned to a winter activity and rugby football in particular. Some of the staff were very proficient in several sports, not least one David Kilroy, who was an all-rounder in the true sense. With the cricket club firmly established, the rugby club came into existence in 1892.

It was Kilroy who inspired the hearts of his colleagues. He was to see his club rise from humble beginnings that embraced rugby in rather crude form played in primitive conditions on an ad hoc basis. Kilroy believed he had the men to lift the club out of that scene into the big time. On October 5th 1895, Constitution held a meeting to discuss the inauguration of a cup competition for the many junior clubs in the city and county. A committee was appointed to run the competition in February 1896. On April 2nd 1896, Constitution contested their first cup final and won it by two tries to nil.

As the 19th century was drawing to its close, there was much debate about the fate of rugby in the Cork area. Many clubs came and went with quite astonishing rapidity. But consecutive cup victories signalled that a new power had arrived in the form of Cork Constitution FC. They were organised and here Kilroy’s guiding hand was evident. In 1897 Constitution entered the Munster Senior Cup thus attaining senior status. The first Senior Cup game was against Queen’s College at Blackrock grounds which Queen’s won 19-0. Constitution had to wait until the 1899/00 campaign for the first Cup win, beating Clonmel 5-0 at Clonmel. However, they lost the next game to Tralee at Turner’s Cross.

The club acquired a new home ground in September 1897, when a tenancy was arranged for a playing field at Turner’s Cross from the landowner Mr Butler. The club set out a pitch, which has since become synonymous with soccer in Cork. It was to be their home until 1904.

David Kilroy, Moss Landers, E.J.Fitzgerald and Edward McCarthy had been honoured by Munster before Edward McCarthy was selected to play for Ireland against Wales in Limerick in 1898, thus becoming the club’s first player to be capped.

Season President Captain Competitions
1892-1893 H.L. Tivy D. Kilroy  
1893-1894 H.L. Tivy D. Kilroy  
1894-1895 H.L. Tivy D. Kilroy  
1895-1896 H.L. Tivy D. Kilroy  City & County Junior Cup
1896-1897 H.L. Tivy D. Kilroy  City & County Junior Cup
1897-1898 H.L. Tivy D. Kilroy  City & County Junior Cup
1898-1899 H.L. Tivy R. Beamish  
1899-1900 H.L. Tivy M.F. Landers