1917 was a momentous year in Irish history. The Country was recovering from the aftermath of the Easter Rising. The First World (Great) War, that had taken the lives of many young Irishmen, continued in Europe. All organised Rugby in Ireland had ceased from 1914 to 1918, though this did not stop impromptu rugby matches being played in the Limerick region.
It was also a time when money was scarce, people did not have much in the way of luxuries. What they did have however was good neighbours who shared what little they had with each other. People did not have to lock their doors when they went out and mugging was unheard of. They were good times in many ways and the quality of life was much better then.
This was the setting in January 1917 when Ald. Joe Mclnemey, Frank Shortt, Jim Mulready, John Creamer, Hugh Flannery, Pat Mclnerney, Charlie McCarthy, Tommy Ryan, Dennis Murphy, Willie Ryan, Jimmy English and Patsy Slater met in the house of Dan Quaid in Sexton Street. Their intention was to form a Rugby Football club.
Naming the new club was to present something of a problem. A number of names were put forward but each was rejected for various reasons. The impass was broken when Dan Quaid, a former Vice-President of the Limerick City Rugby Club, affectionately known as the “The Gaubies”, suggested the new club be named after the convent school across the road from where they sat. The newly formed committee readily agreed and so Presentation Rugby Football Club was born.
Matches were few and far between until 1919 when Rugby was once again re-organised. The members used that period to recruit new players and generally put the club on a firm footing. The committee held their meetings in turn at Jim Mulready’s Bar, (now called Nancy Blake’s in Upper Denmark street) and at Frank Shortt’s Barbers Shop until they secured their own club rooms at number 7 Denmark Street.
Presentation enjoyed little success in local competitions until 1922 when they contested their first city Junior Cup Final. Abbey provided the opposition and scored the only try of the match.
The following season they competed for the Fr. Potter Medal Tournament, organised by The Pioneer Total Abstinence Sodality. The competition was confined to players who had not played in the Munster Junior Cup. After a good run Presentation lost to Shannon, the eventual winners. A defeat at the hands of Young Munster in the final for a set of gold medals left the city centre club still seeking their first success.
In the 1923-24 season “Pres” competed in the Munster Junior Cup for the first time in the opening round. The following season Shannon proved too strong in the first round of the Munster Junior Cup. Yet the Young Presentation side had learned much from these defeats The mentors were very much aware that experience was being gained with each match and it was felt the side had talent to make the breakthrough before too long. And so it was to prove when Limerick’s youngest club scored their first major success in sensational style.
The meeting of Young Munster and Presentation in the final of the Transfieid Cup at the Markets Field was almost a local Derby. The Cup had not been competed for from 1909 to 1925 when Bohemians recorded their first and so far only win in the competition. The Markets Field was packed to capacity as the sides ran onto the pitch. The respective supporters, displaying the colours of their favourites gave continuous vocal encouragement throughout as one side then the other gained the lead. But it was to be Presentation’s day as tries from Garrett O’Hanlon and Jack Braddish with two penalty goals from Paddy Heffernan enabled them to record their first ever success in Junior Football on a 12-9 scoreline.
After receiving’ the Cup the supporters of the Black and Whites carried their heros shoulder high from the Markets Field to Denmark Street where celebrations went on long into the night. The winning line-out was as follows; Paddy Heffernan, Jack Mclnerney, Maurice English, Jimmy Flannery, Tommy English, Tommy Ryan, Tom Mclnerney, Garrett O’Hanlon, Pa Joe Mclnerney (Captain), John Foley, Jack Braddish, Larry Cavanagh, Paddy Hickey, Mick Mclnerney, Ger Brommell.
The following year a much changed Presentation, captained by Mick Mclnerney retained the Transfield Cup with a 5-0 victory over Abbey.
Into the side came Murty King who just one year later was a member of the Young Munster XV, that won the Bateman Cup. Other young players that played a big part in the cup win were, Mick Frawley, Jim Thompson, Paddy Sweeney, Jack Irwin, Pa Joe McGrath and Jim Burrows.
With two Transfield Cups to their credit the Limerick club were now ready to make an all- out effort to annex the Munster Junior Cup. In the 1927/28 season Presentation had their best run to-date when they qualified for the semifinal only to be defeated by the eventual winners Waterford City.
But success, as they say, was just around the corner. In the 1928/29 season, just eleven years after the founding of the Club, Presentation won their first Provincial Trophy, The Munster Junior Cup. A bye in the first round was followed by a 9-3 win over St. Munchins. Nenagh were next to fall on a 11-3 scoreline. In the Semi-Final Garryowen could never match their younger opponents who ran in three tries without replay.
After their semi-final win over Garryowen at the Markets Field Presentation went into strict training for their final meeting in Waterford.
The excitment generated throughout the city in the days prior to the final was intense. Thousands of supporters were making plans to travel by whatever means at their disposal. The Black and Whites were on the verge of making history. It was an occasion not to be missed.
The home side were holders, indeed they had defeated Presentation in the semi-final at the Markets Field the previous season. It was felt the young Limerick XV would be no match for the very experienced Waterford team.
When Waterford kicked-off against stiff breeze the huge crowd, in which the Limerick contingent, who outnumbered the local support by three to one, were most vocal in urging on their favourites.
In the opening quarter the home side attacked with such determination that they forced Presentation to defend their lines as if their very lives depended on it. Gradually “Pres” came to grips with their opponents and a number of promising attacks almost produced a score.
As the interval approached Presentation were awarded a penalty outside their opponents “25” far out on the right. Mick Hackett, so solid in defence all through the name, placed the kick inch perfect between the posts.
In the second period, the Limerick side playing with a new found confidence enjoyed long periods of superiority. Swift passing movements combined with foot rushes which Garrett O’Hanlon, Richard Smyth, Neddy Grimes and Gerry Brommell were prominent, kept play inside their opponents half.
It was no great surprise when Presentation increased their lead. Winning a scrum on half way the ball came to Tom Creamer via Tom Mclnerney. Cutting inside the wing linked with Jim Flannery who in turn passed to Jim Moloney. With the defence in disarray Moloney created the opening for Maurice English to run the final 25 yards and score in the corner. Hackett failed with the conversion attempt but it did not matter as the Munster Junior Cup was destined for Limerick and Denmark Street.
The team that represented Presentation this historic occasion was:
Mick Hackett, Jack Mclnerney, Maurice English (Captain), Jim Flannery, Tom Creamer, Jim Moloney, Tom Mclnerney Garrett O’Hanlon, Pa Joe Mclnerney, Richard Smyth, Edward Grimes, John McNamara Patrick Mulally, Mike Mclnerney, Gerry BrommelI.
When the victorious team returned to Limerick they were met at the Fairgreen by many thousands of their fellow citizens. After being welcomed by local officials the players were led by two bands to the clubrooms Denmark Street.
The city centre was filled with happy supporters who celebrated the Munster Cup win as only Limerick people can. Presentation added the Transfield Cup to round off what was surley the greatest season in their short history.
We beat old St. Munchins, And walloped Nenagh too,
But the finest lads we ever met, Were the little boys in blue,
When we went to Waterford, We thought “our numbers up”
But now we’re coming back, With the Munster Junior Cup.
Transfield Cup Again
Presentation retained the Transfield Cup but were beaten by Abbey in the first round of the Munster Junior Cup. Success at local level continued when the Transfield Cup was won in 1931 and make it four wins in a row. Yet in this period “Pres” were unable to repeat their Munster Junior Cup success.
The club did not compete in any grade of football in the 1936-37 season and when they returned the following year lost to Richmond in the area semi-final of the Munster Junior Cup.
The late ‘30’s were barren years for the club. The Second World War disrupted most competitions as once again many young men from Limerick joined the British forces and many more the Irish Army during the “Emergency”.
In 1941 Presentation qualified for the Munster Junior Cup semi-final. Castleisland provided the opposition at the Markets Field defeating the city side 9-3. For the only time in its history the Munster Junior Cup was shared between Castleisland and Waterford.
A trio of Transfield Cup wins in 1942, 43 and 44, saw “Pres” leading club in North Munster once again.
Provincial success however continued to elude the club. In 1944 Presentation and Dolphin met in the final of the Munster Junior Cup.Once again Lady Luck did Limerick side. They had opportunities but could not turn them into scores.With a scoreless draw very much on the cards, a late rally enabled Dick Dennehy to dop a goal for the only score of the game. Dennehy was to repeat that score when Dolphin defeated Garryowen by 4-0 in the final ofthe Munster Senior Cup.
Just four years later Presentation qualified for what was to prove their last Munster Junior Cup Final to date. On this occasion Nenagh provided the opposition. The two sides had met earlier that season in the Transfield Cup Final. After two meetings the sides were still level. In the semi-final “Pres” defeated S Marys 8-0 in extra-time, the scores coming from O’Dwyer and O'Donnell tries with a Costelloe penalty goal.