It was in September 1900, when a group of happy young men cycled up the avenue at St Mary’s College Rathmines, Dublin and after an historic meeting agreed to form Old St Mary’s FC as was to be called; however, later it became St Mary’s College RFC. It was to be an open club, open to all, playing open rugby, a tradition retained, nurtured and cherished to this day. There was a close relationship between the college and the club and that relationship still exists today.
The seventies was the glorious age, with many trophies at all levels being won and with wonderful players like Sean Lynch, Dennis Hickie, John Moloney, Tom Grace, Seamus Deering, Tom Feighery, Tony Ward, Terry Kennedy, Ciaran Fitzgerald and Rodney O’Donnell all being capped for Ireland. Of course, Johnny Moloney, Tom Grace and super hero Seamus Deering captained Ireland during that period and later Ciaran Fitzgerald captained Ireland to a triple crown in 82 and 85 and captained the Lions in 1983. The inaugural Leinster Senior league was won under the inspiring captaincy of club great, JB Sweeney in season 71-72.
During the happy tenure there, the club won many junior cups and learned the best side-steps in Dublin rugby, through avoiding the sheep and cattle dung (the pitches being also leased for grazing farm animals). Also in that period, the club regained senior status in 1941 and later a young Matt Gilsenan, who still plays an active role in the club, led his side to win the inaugural Moran Cup (J3s) in 1949; he later brought the senior team, of which he was then captain, on the first ever club tour to Italy in 1954.
The 2000s saw further changes both to laws and to structures of rugby in Ireland, with the provinces fully professional, most of our AIL winning team became full time players for the provinces and were no longer available to the club to any extent; and so a rebuilding began. Although the 2nd division was visited for a year (2004-05), the club progressed both on and off the field. Steven Hennessy and Peter Smyth developed a strong, mainly home produced squad, and took the club back to the top division the following season.
In 1955, that move was made, and a wonderful new clubhouse and grounds were opened on College Drive (off Fortfield Road) and so began a golden era in St Mary’s history. It took only a few years to taste success, for in 1957-58 season under the inspired captaincy of Joe Fanagan and with wonderful players like Ned Carmody, Vincent Mc Govern, Sean Cooke, Jack Bagnall, the Hussey twins, Dick Whitty, Ken Wall and Nicky Corrigan, brought home to College Drive, the Leinster Senior Cup for the first time. The LSC, now the Leinster Senior League Cup, at that time was the most prestigious trophy and the most difficult to win in Irish rugby.
In 2011-12, Hugh Hogan resumed as captain of the club and under the coaching team of Peter Smyth, Ciaran Potts, James Norton and Steven Hennessy (advisory), they had a magnificent campaign and won through to the title on the last day of the campaign defeating great rivals Young Munster in a knee trembling match. (For details, see reports and club yearbook 2012-13) It was fitting that, President John Gilsenan, son of club legend and leader Matt Gilsenan, received the trophy on behalf of the club, The season saw the introduction of young players, Ryan O’Loughlin, Stevie Toal-Lennon, Christopher Lilly, Marcus O’Driscoll, Christopher Lilly, Gerry Sexton and Tom O’Reilly pushing up and challenging for places and many other support players and junior players making up an impressive player matrix. These players have brought many trophies and honour to the club over the decade (see Records).