Jim Bennett, March 2021
Maryborough CC, Early Days, 1927-1933
When I was growing up in Portlaoise in the 1950s and early 1960s, cricket and hockey clubs had long ceased to exist in the town. However, my father, Paddy, often regaled me with stories of his endeavours for Maryborough Hockey club, and this club had a close relationship with Maryborough Cricket Club because the two clubs shared a ground at Kellyville Park, now the site of Laois County Council Offices.
This outbreak of nostalgia/ reminiscence has been provoked by Roland Bradley's chance encounter with Mrs Eleanor Russell who provided him with some photographs which related to cricket in Maryborough, Portlaoise, during one season in the early 1930s.
The Senior Vice-Presidents and the other members of the Executive Committee were either professional people or leading figures in the local business community. At the outset, it is appropriate to comment on the club's name. In opting for Maryborough rather than Portlaoighise, the club was not making a political statement nor was it expressing its opposition to the policy of gaelicising placenames. In the aftermath of the War of Independence, the County Council changed the name of the county from Queen's County to Laoighis - Leix, and the Town Commission of Maryborough followed suit by changing the name of the town to Portlaoighise. As an aside, this spelling caused all sorts of pronunciation difficulties, "Portlageese", "Portloose", "Portla-goo-shee" so it was subsequently simplified to Portlaoise.
However even up to the early 1960s, the name, Maryborough -pronounced Marabra- continued to be used by some people from the town and outlying districts, and there were people who never accepted the change at all, as was reflected in death notices which appeared in the press in the late 1960s. Therefore in 1927, the cricket and hockey clubs were simply reflecting general usage and were not dissenting from official policy.
The club was fortunate because it inherited a ground at Kellyville Park which had been "the venue of many a hard-fought game in the past". A new crease had been laid down, "a fine pavilion had been erected", and all the requirements were in place for a successful first season. The secretaries indicated their willingness to hear from clubs which required fixtures and given the number of clubs in the surrounding towns in addition to its contacts with some of the Dublin clubs, Maryborough CC did not foresee any difficulties in obtaining games for its players. A noticeable feature of this era is the extensive coverage given to cricket by the local press, and this is a wonderful resource for people who are interested in sport as part of the social history of a town.
The first game for which there is a report available was played against Railway Union at Kellyville Park on 6 June 1927. The Maryborough opening pair of J. Robinson and F. Delaney did not have the best of luck. Delaney was run out when he "seemed to be getting set", and Robinson retired hurt because he was hit in the eye by "a full-pitcher". Robinson returned later and contributed 17* to a total of 139. The leading batsman was the Captain, Horace Turpin, who scored 57, and the two other batsmen in double figures were Dr TJ McCormack 16 and F. Meehan 15. The leading wicket-takers for Maryborough were E. Robson 4, Turpin 3, and Railway Union ended up on a score of 67 runs - Nationalist and Leinster Times, 11 June 1927.
In the game against Castlecomer, Turpin 77 was again the top scorer, Robinson got 25 runs, and Delaney's ill-luck continued because he was run out again. Maryborough scored 130 runs, and stumps were drawn when Castlecomer had scored 60 runs with 6 wickets down - NL&T, 25 June 1927.
The intense rivalry between Maryborough and Mountmellick was reflected in the triumphalist comments in the report which was published in the Nationalist and Leinster Times on 27 July 1927: Mountmellick and good cricketers are synonymous terms. There are two teams in the town and on last Sunday they easily vanquished their opponents – Maryboro' again going down beneath their bats. For style and science, they would well make models of the game. - NLT, 27 July 1927. The score in the second game was Mountmellick, 93 runs to Maryborough's 35 runs - Leinster Leader, 9 July 1927. On 7 August, there was a game against Leinster CC at Rathmines. Leinster batted first and scored 128 runs. In reply, A. A. Odlum - the Flour Milling family, and R. Croker opened the batting, Maryborough scored 129 runs, and there were significant contributions from R. G. H. Russell 61 runs and McCartan 27 runs. - LL, 13 August 1927.
There were also two games played against Monasterevan, and on the second occasion at least, Maryborough emerged victorious. It was intended to play this game on the new cricket pitch at Moore Abbey, but due to the "Moorey" nature of the soil, it was decided to play the game on the old pitch outside the town . There is a dearth of specific information regarding results during the 1928 season, but some of the games that the club played can be ascertained from the fixture lists.
On 6 May 1928, the first game of the season was played in ideal weather in the presence of a large attendance at the "beautiful" Prince Grounds in Castlecomer. The previous season Maryborough had been beaten by Castlecomer, both home and away, but on this occasion, Maryborough won on a score of 73 to 48 runs. The top scorers for Maryborough were H. Turpin 15, E. Matthews 11 and R. J. Russell 10, and there was a favourable mention for the Maryborough Captain, Dr T. J. McCormack, a native of Castlecomer - Kilkenny People, 12 May 1928. On 11 May to the surprise of many people, Portarlington beat Maryborough, a team considered to be "one of the best in the county". The run of poor results for Maryborough continued into June when the team played Athy in a two innings game but lost by an innings and 21 runs. Maryborough scored 29 runs in the first innings and 36 runs in the second innings, and in reply, Athy scored 88 runs - LL, 30 June 1928.
In addition to a men's team, Maryborough fielded a junior - under 15 team, and in one of its early outings beat Castlecomer by 3 runs. This was the first youth game that Castlecomer had played, and Masters Jack Curran 25 runs and Patrick Curran 15 runs were singled out for special mention in the Kilkenny People's report. The other members of the Castlecomer team were praised for "contributing very scientific play all through the game" - Kilkenny People, 7 July 1928. The same two teams were due to play on the following Sunday, 22 July 1928, but the game was not played for some undisclosed reason. Undaunted, the boys from Castlecomer "had a brilliant practice, all members being dressed in whites, in expectation of the arrival of the Maryboro' players" - Kilkenny People, 28 July 1928. Castlecomer and Maryborough men's teams played on Sunday, 29 July, but while specific details of the game were not published, it can be inferred from a report on the junior game which was played the following day that Castlecomer won because it is mentioned that the juniors followed the example of their seniors of the previous day by defeating the Maryborough team. It was evident that the Castlecomer players had made a dramatic improvement since their first outing because Maryborough CC was a poor second in the junior game. Castlecomer batted first and scored 164 runs, with the main contributions coming from Dick Gardiner 88 and Jack Curran 28. In reply, only one Maryborough player, Lacey 10 got into double figures in either innings, and the team was dismissed for 20 runs in the first innings and 12 runs in the second innings - Kilkenny People 4 August 1928.
The adult men's team played Dublin University Long Vacation at College Park on 17 August and won an exciting game by 23 runs. Odlum scored 58 and the third wicket partnership of 74 runs between J. A. O'Donnell 58 and J. P. Tyrrell 37 enabled Maryborough to declare with 6 wickets down for a score of 155. In reply, Long Vacation batting one player short was dismissed for 123 thanks to a superb spell of bowling by R. G. Russell who took 2 wickets for 5 runs.
During the close season, the club organised Whist Drives, and according to reports in the local press, they were always well-attended. This was a difficult season for the club because one of its leading members, Mr P. J. Meehan died in June at the early age of 51 years. Mr Meehan who had qualified as a solicitor in 1900 had represented Queen's County in Parliament from 1913 to 1918.
Information regarding the 1929 season followed a similar pattern to the previous season. Gowran Castle had two fixtures against Maryborough, as had Portarlington. On 4 August 1929, Maryborough lost a low-scoring game - 56 runs to 50 - to Gowran Castle, and only two players Odlum 13* and Reilly 10 managed to get into double figures. The only redeeming feature of this game was the bowling of Dalton who took 7 wickets for 28 runs. In terms of its involvement in the community, the Cricket and Hockey Clubs organised a dance in the Courthouse in November. Dancing commenced at 9.00 o'clock, the music was supplied by Mr Bannan's Orchestra and the charge of admission was very moderate.
Mr J. Robson who had served the club as Secretary was transferred to Waterford in March 1930, and in "appreciation of his services as a player, their high appreciation of his personal qualities and the good wishes of all for his future success and prosperity", the Cricket and Hockey Clubs presented him with a purse of sovereigns.There is minimal evidence to show that Maryborough played cricket during this season, but there were several laudable initiatives. The ladies of Monasterevan and Athy opened their season with some practice play, and they were due to play each other in due course. The hope was expressed that Maryborough, Castlemitchell and Kildare would also form teams so that a greater level of interest would be created in the game of cricket.
During this season, a new club convenient to the town was founded in Mountrath, and at that early stage, it had already registered fifty members. Mountmellick was the most active club in the county, and it won 19 games out of 22 games played. In August, a representative team called Queen's County went on a short Dublin tour. Its first game was against Phoenix and it managed to achieve a creditable draw. D. R. Pigot's innings of 71 was characterised by "splendid driving and clever placing to the on " J. C. Boucher "bowled with deadly effect" and took four wickets for 26 runs. The game against Leinster was also drawn, with F. G. Connell scoring 31 runs for Leinster and J. Anderson taking 5 wickets for 29 runs. The main contributor to the Queen's County's score was W. Taylor who scored 33 runs against Phoenix and 39 against Leinster. The Evening Herald referred to E. Robson from Maryborough and T. Dwyer of Castlecomer as being "excellent bowlers". J. J. Curran who had played for Leinster CC and the Gentlemen of Ireland was a member of the Queen's County team, and while he did not have the opportunity to practise as much as he had done in former times, he was still playing regularly for Castlecomer. He scored 21 runs against Phoenix at a critical stage of the game.
In 1931, Maryborough CC's series of Whist Drives continued, and the prize for the highest aggregate score was £10, a significant sum of money - 28 February 1931. It also appeared to have been more active on the playing front but most of the published reports are for games played in August and September. On 2 August, Maryborough played Stradbally at Stradbally, and was beaten by 6 wickets and 27 runs. In the first innings, Maryborough only scored 23 runs, but it improved to a certain extent in the second innings when it scored 49 runs, with J. Tyrrell being the top scorer with 27 runs. In reply, Stradbally scored 70 runs in the first innings, with Doyle 17 and Kelly 11* reaching double figures. It was also possible that Capt Cosby and R. Cole reached double figures, but the score card was not reproduced fully in the newspaper report, and it is necessary to infer the scores by a process of adding the scores which were printed and subtracting that figure from the total score. In the second innings, Capt Cosby 10 and R. Cole 12* were the main contributors in a comfortable victory for Stradbally.
Maryborough returned to winning ways on the Bank Holiday Monday when it played Monkstown at Kellyville Park. The home side declared at 187 for 4 wickets, with Turpin 57 and Maguire 84 "hitting freely", and the visitors were dismissed for 93 runs. On 9 August, Maryborough visited Castlecomer; the home side batted first and scored 88 runs. The bowling star was Turpin who took 5 wickets, and then he starred with the bat by scoring 64 runs. The Castlecomer native, Dr McCormack 69 was the top scorer for Maryborough. On 22 August, Dr McCormack's run of good scores continued when he scored 79 runs in the game against the Curragh. The other major contributors the Maryborough score of 157 runs were the Delaneys, Fintan 20 and Jack 19, and the Curragh was dismissed for 104 runs. On the following day, Maryborough travelled to Carlow, and drew a "very interesting game" with the home team. Maryborough batted first and accumulated 178 runs, with R. H. Russell scoring 47 runs, J. P. Tyrrell getting 23 and Jack Delaney scoring 39*. Carlow scored 158 runs for the loss of 4 wickets.
In September in the game between Mountrath and Maryborough at Mountrath, Maryborough batted first and scored 45 runs. In reply, Mountrath also scored 45 runs. Maryborough scored 46 in the second innings and Mountrath had scored 16 when a heavy shower put an end to play. The Maryborough team was entertained at the Railway Hotel and departed "well pleased with their reception". In the return game between Castlecomer and Maryborough played at Maryborough, the home eleven won on a score of 93 runs to 38. The top scorers for Maryborough were H. Russell 14 and R. Russell 23. On 17 September, Maryborough played Carlow at Maryborough, and was beaten by 42 runs with only one Maryborough player, R. H. Russell, 11 getting into double figures. The final game of the season was played against Stradbally, and Maryborough got revenge for the defeat earlier in the season. In a low-scoring game, Maryborough scored 34 runs, and Stradbally could only manage 29 runs in its reply. The year ended on a sombre note for Maryborough with the death of Mr J. H. Tyrrell of the Maltings, Maryborough who in addition to being a first- class cricketer was a fine horseman and a racehorse owner.
The first home game of the 1932 season was played against Rathdaire - also known as Rath on 30 April. The wicket was reported to be in "excellent order" and the game proved to be an enjoyable one. The result was a win for Maryborough on a score of 76 to 32 runs Maryborough also won the return game, which was played at Rath on Thursday, 5 May. The next home fixture was a game between Maryborough and, "the unconquerable -so far- combination from Mountmellick" Mountmellick Correspondent. In this instance, pride came before the fall and the Maryborough reporter was not slow to rub salt into Mountmellick's wounds when he referred to the visit of Mountmellick "who were confident of repeating some former successes but were doomed to disappointment for the home club fielded a strong side and won easily". The other fixtures played in May and early June were an away game against Halverstown, and a representative game Maryborough and Leix County against Leinster at Kellyville Park. In late June, Maryborough entertained Merrion Civil Service Club at Kellyville Park. The game resulted in a win for Merrion on a score of 121 runs for 5 wickets to 69. The top scorer for Maryborough was Thomas Boland who made 31 runs.
The club had sufficient members at this stage to field a second team, and its game with Stradbally ended in a draw - 25 June 1932. On 10 July, the two great rivals, Maryborough and Mountmellick met for the third time in the season. Up to that point, it was honours even, but in an "interesting and keenly contested" game, Mountmellick won by 8 runs. The other great rivalry was with Carlow CC and the two teams met in Maryborough on 1 August. Maryborough had won the away game, and on this occasion, the result was reversed. The report which appeared in the Nationalist and Leinster Times was submitted by the Carlow Correspondent, so it is necessary to read it in that context. Maryborough batted first and he stated that they "were a bit lucky to score 73" because the Carlow fielding was very poor with one or two exceptions. The main scorers for Maryborough were Turpin 30 and R. G. Russell 26. R. D. Mc Donnell was the most successful of the Carlow bowlers and he had the "remarkable figures of 4 wickets for 3 runs". Carlow looked like being easy winners because with 7 wickets in hand, it needed 12 runs to win, but there was a collapse and with only 1 wicket in hand, it was still 7 runs short of victory. Eventually, the winning runs were scored, and Carlow finished on 75 thanks to a last wicket stand by M. Governey and A. Jeffers.
The teams were due to meet again in Carlow on 14 August, and in a possible indication of future difficulties, Maryborough was unable to travel. The club continued to hold Whist Drives in the Courthouse during the close season, but unfortunately, the choice of Sunday as the date for one of the events meant that it was less successful than its promoters had hoped. There were only twenty tables involved, and the Nationalist and Leinster Times suggested that due to other engagements and counter attractions, the club would be well-advised to hold future drives on a weeknight. However, it is always important to remain positive and it was reported that those who were present had a most enjoyable evening. The winner of the event was Miss S. Kelly, a renowned golfer and hockey player, who made the top score of 187; Mrs M. Carey came second with 180 points and Mr T. White was third with 175 points.
The final social event which the club organised in 1932 was the Annual Dance which was held in the Courthouse on St Stephen's Night. It was anticipated that there would be a big crowd of visitors from the neighbouring towns and adjoining counties because this was "one of the most popular of the Christmas entertainments in these parts". Prior to the commencement of the 1933 season, the club invested a considerable amount of time and energy in improving the ground by erecting a boundary fence. R. H. Russell received a favourable mention in the Evening Herald's report on the game between Merrion 11 and Phoenix 11 when he scored 38 for Phoenix before he was "unluckily run out".
On 25 June 1933, Maryborough visited Castlecomer, and won by 80 runs on a score of 141 runs to 61. The leading scorers were J. Doran 46, R. G. H. Russell 23 and J. Delany 20 with Delaney and R. H. Russell each taking 4 wickets. On 1 July, Merrion visited Maryborough and inflicted a heavy defeat on the home side on a score of 199 runs to 57. The main feature of the Merrion innings was an unbeaten 118 runs by the Merrion Captain, R. H. H. Shortt, which was "not free of chances", but "R. H. was in luck, and everyone was glad to see him run into the three figures".
In its weekly review of cricket, the Evening Herald was fulsome in its praise of Maryborough CC: The enthusiastic cricketers in this town are to be congratulated on the great improvements that they have made on the ground which is now up to best standard. The game has flourished there for many years, and if they do not always win, they can be relied on to follow the highest sporting lines. After the heavy defeat by Merrion, things did not improve very much for Maryborough on the following day when it visited Stradbally and encountered a team which batted superbly with Keyes being run out on 109, Kelly scored 45, Tryom scored 44, and Stradbally's final score was 246 runs for 7 wickets. Only two Maryborough players, Meehan 11 an J. P. Tyrrell 19 managed double figures, and it was bowled out for 59 runs - Stradbally score book for 2 July 1933.
The Meehan family had a long association with Castleknock College, with all six of P. A. Meehan's sons attending the College, www.castleknockcollege.ie. and it was therefore very appropriate that a team from Castleknock College team would play against Maryborough in July. The College team scored 191 runs and Maryborough could only score 81 in reply. Three Maryborough players, J. Maguire 25, Dr McCormack 12 and J. Doran 16 achieved double figures, but by comparison, Castleknock had 7 players in double figures.
The run of defeats was arrested when Maryborough visited Dublin in August and had the better of a 12 a-side game with Phoenix. When stumps were drawn, they only needed 16 runs to win with five wickets in hand. The main contributors to the score of 165 were J. A. O'Donnell 57, G. Kenny 34 and R. Russell 28*. On 7 August, Maryborough travelled to Carlow, and scored 169 runs, with Jappy Delany 45, R. Russell 48 and B. White 20 making substantial contributions to the score, but on the day, it was not enough, and Carlow managed to achieve the target score for the loss of 3 wickets. The main scorers for Carlow were McConkey 97, Early 24, McDonnell 21* and Governey 20.
In the return game in Maryborough, an allegedly weak side won a strange game. Carlow batted first and was dismissed for 54 runs, and the home side looked like being out for appreciably less than the target score because four of the best batsmen were out for 7 runs, eight wickets were down for 54, 9 for 56, but the last wicket brought the score up to 120, giving Maryborough a win by 66 runs. The Carlow Correspondent of the Nationalist was not too impressed with Carlow's efforts, and he summed up the game by stating that the Carlow bowling more than the Maryborough batting was responsible for the unexpected result.
There was also a youths' game between Maryborough and Carlow which Maryborough won on the gross score of 109 to 78 runs. In the first innings, Maryborough scored 69 runs to 29 for Carlow, and in the second innings, Maryborough scored 40 to Carlow's 49.
During the close season, the club lost two of its leading members. Mr Horace Turpin, Senior, the President in 1927, died on 23 November after a short illness. He had worked as a solicitor in the town for over fifty years. In February of the following year, Fintan Delaney, the opening batsman in the early years of the club died of a heart attack.
Back to cricketing matters, it is difficult to reconcile the fact that a club which had effected ground improvements in 1933 and was the subject of favourable comments in the national press that season should end up selling its ground maintenance equipment and its cricketing paraphernalia on Tuesday, 16 October 1934. The items for sale included 14 forms, 2 tables, 120 oak stakes, barbed wire, mallet, fencing wire, sets of stumps and bats, score board and figures, balls, pads, and gloves in addition to a quantity of china, delph, kettles and basins, a heavy 25 cwt roller, a lawn mower, and a sod cutter.
It was obvious from this list that there was no possibility of cricket resuming in the town in the immediate future. What happened? We can exclude the possibility that the field was required by the landowner because the hockey club continued to thrive at this location, and Kellyville Park was not requisitioned for building purposes and the construction of the Portlaoise town by-pass until the late 1960s at the very earliest.
It can only be a matter of conjecture, but the first possibility is that key administrators whose organisational skills, enthusiasm and energy can keep a club afloat even when it encounters setbacks may have resigned. The other possibility is the inability to field a team due to people having increased domestic and/ or business commitments or competition from other sports, especially golf because many of the cricketers were also among the officers and leading members of The Heath Golf Club. Further research is required to ascertain the reasons for Maryborough CC ceasing to play cricket, but it is food for thought that a club which was on the crest of the wave in 1933, should be gone out of cricket the following year.
This points to a constant need for a balance between maintaining the status quo and seeking to develop the game further, because development loses much of its impact if the existing clubs and players leave the game.
For Maryborough CC, it is important to emphasise the role which the club played in providing a sporting and social outlet for the people of the town as the country began to adjust to the new "normal" after World War 1, the War of Independence, and the Civil War. The club was a key member of a vibrant cricketing community in Laoighis - Laois for the eight years of its existence.
After its demise, some of the other clubs in the county continued for a few years, but by 1937, cricket was no longer being played in Laoighis. While there was a small-scale revival of cricket in the county in 1947, the game was not played again in Portlaoise until 1985 when the club obtained permission from Portlaoise Rugby Club to play at Togher.
Note: This article was undertaken as a tribute to the work which Roland Bradley has done in nurturing and developing cricket in Laois and Tom Cosby for his generous patronage in providing a ground for Laois Cricket Club.
Appendix A Officers and Committee of Maryborough CC in 1927 President: Mr H. Turpin, senior Vice-Presidents: J. E. Tyrrell, T. Tyrrell, Isidore Blake, Col. A. Blake, Col. Marsden, R. H. Franklin, A. Rolleston, J. O'Keeffe, and P. Kelly. Committee: P. J. Meehan, Dr McCormack, R. G. H. Russell, J. F. Delaney, M. A. Feehan, A. W. Odlum, F. Delaney, T. Byrne, A. Franklin, P. Tynan, F. Meehan, T. White, J. W. Doran, T. Kelly, F. O'Carroll Captain: Mr H. Turpin, junior Vice-Captain: Mr R. G. H. Russell Hon Secs: Wm. C. Meehan and J. Robinson Hon Treasurer: Mr H. Turpin, junior
Biographical Details of Some Members of Maryborough CC
Horace Turpin, Senior
Horace Turpin who lived at "Greystones, Coote Street" was the youngest son of the late Mr J. Turpin who for many years was headmaster of Midleton College, Co. Cork. He was born in 1861, qualified as a solicitor in 1881 and entered into partnership with his uncle, the late Mr T. Turpin. On the death of his uncle, he took over the business, and later he was joined in the firm by his son, Horace, Junior. According to the obituary, which was published in the Nationalist and Leinster Times, he was a "man of sound judgement, a wise and able advocate, never being harsh or inconsiderate for that would have been contrary to his natural kindness and sympathy for those in trouble". Mr Turpin died on 23 November 1933, aged 73.
Horace Turpin, Junior
Horace Turpin was the fourth generation of his family to continue in the legal profession, and he joined his father's firm in 1927. He was President of the Laois Bar Association, and in addition to his cricketing prowess, he was a member of the Connaught Branch of the Irish Hockey Union. He acted as an umpire at many inter-provincial games, both at Carlow and Portlaoise. He was described as being "hard-working and courteous", and a man of "many sterling qualities." Mr Turpin died in September 1966.
Joseph H. Tyrrell
Joseph H. Tyrrell was the senior member of the firm of Messrs Gibney Ltd., proprietors of Maryborough Maltings. In his early days, he was a first-class cricketer and a fine horseman. He hunted with the Kildare and Queen's County Hunt. As a racehorse owner, he had his first notable success with Lord Offaly, winner of the Irish Cambridgeshire. He was known as a kind and considerate employer, and very sympathetic to the plight of the grain growers in their difficulties brought about by the altered economic conditions. Mr Tyrrell died in November 1931.
Fintan Delaney who was described as "an old and loyal member" of Maryborough CC lived on the Borris Road. He spent a good part of this early life in the British Army and he saw service in India and in the Boer War. He was reading the evening paper when he had a heart seizure, and despite being attended by the priest and the doctor, he never regained consciousness. Mr Delaney died on 2 February 1933.
Patrick J. Meehan
Patrick J. Meehan was born on 28 March 1877. He was educated at C. B. S., Portlaoise and Castleknock College. He qualified as a solicitor in 1900. He succeeded his father, the late P. A. Meehan as Member of Parliament for Queen's County in 1913 until 1918 when he was defeated by Kevin O'Higgins, the Sinn Fein candidate. He was a lover of all kinds of sport and a successful breeder of greyhounds. He died at his residence, Annebrook in July 1929 at the early age of 52.
William C. Meehan
William C. Meehan was another son of Patrick A. Meehan. He was educated at the C. B. S., Portlaoise and Castleknock. In 1905, he was appointed Clerk to the Committee of Management of Maryborough Mental Hospital, and he retired from that position in 1937. He was widely read and had a great interest in music. He was a prominent figure on the local concert stage and in 1910, he took the initiative in the formation of the Maryborough Choral Union. In addition to being a keen cricketer, he was one of the leading hockey players in the Midlands. He died in January 1947.
Robert Gordon Hall Russell - Bob
R. G. H. Russell was born in England in 1885. Initially, he resided at Shane and he was a Timber Merchant and Sawmill Proprietor. In addition to playing cricket with Maryborough, he played with Phoenix CC, and he played hockey with the Idlers' Club. When import duties were levied on sports goods, he went into partnership with Douglas Gray, and formed Gray Russell Ltd, a sports equipment manufacturing company. He was Chairman of the Company, and his son, R. H. H. Harry was one of the directors. He assured cricketers that the quality of the bats produced by his company would be "well-up to the highest standard". Mr Russell died in August 1948.
Robert H. H. Russell - Harry
Robert H. Russell was educated at Monkstown Park and Rosall Schools. He played golf off a handicap of 4 and was captain of the Portarlington team which won the Barton Cup team in 1950. He played hockey for Three Rock Rovers from 1933 onwards and was a member of the team that won the Irish Senior Cup in 1939. He played for Ireland in 1944 and represented Connaught in the interprovincial championships. In addition to playing for Maryborough Cricket Club, he played for Phoenix for several seasons, and was adjudged to have been an excellent fielder.
Dr Thomas J. McCormack
Dr Thomas J. McCormack, a native of Castlecomer, Co. Kilkenny, was born in 1881. He was educated at St Kieran's College, Kilkenny, and served as Dispensary Medical Officer in Ballyroan before being appointed to Portlaoise in 1922. He was later appointed County Physician and served as Deputy County Coroner. According to the Nationalist, "he was a most painstaking and conscientious doctor, loved by all his patients, especially the poor." In his early days, he was an outstanding footballer and hurler, and as a member of the Erin's Own Club, he helped Kilkenny to win All-Ireland titles in 1911, 1912 and 1913. In addition to playing cricket, he also played hockey for Maryborough. Dr Mc Cormack died in September 1959.
Dr Pierce Grace
Dr Pierce Grace, a native of Kilkenny, served as R. M. S. at St Fintan's Hospital for over thirty years. He was a former Kilkenny All-Ireland hurler and was treasurer of both the Portlaoise Boxing Club and the Laois/Kilkenny Board. He retired in 1953, and he was presented with a silver statuette of a pair of boxers by the Boxing Club. In his last regular appearance at the Heath Golf Club, he presented the prizes to the winners, and presented some of the trophies which he had won to the Club. At a meeting of the Laois-Offaly Mental Health Board, the Chairman, Mr D. Hogan, described Dr Grace as "a most humane man, who was at all times courteous and kind". Dr Grace died in October 1966.
Jasper Delany J. G. or Jappy
Jasper Delany was educated at the Christian Brothers Schools, Portlaoise and the National University of Ireland. He qualified as a Dentist in 1940 and his first post was as temporary Surgeon Dentist to the Maryborough Mental Hospital. Always known as Jappy, he was an outstanding sportsman. He starred with Maryborough Cricket Club while he was still at school. He played hockey for Maryborough X1 and was a member of the team which won the Irish Junior Cup, the Midland League Cup, and the Godfrey Cup in the 1939-1940 season. He was the first golfer to score a hole in one at the 8th hole - 169 yards at the Heath. This feat was achieved during a "needle" game against N. Croke and J. Wade. Despite being incapacitated to a certain extent by a leg injury, he was still winning golf competitions in 1984 when he scored 43 points in partnership with Sean Donoghue in the Saturday Fourball competition. Jappy Delany was one of nature's gentlemen, always smiling and always in good humour. He died on 15 August 1994.
Mr John Rutherford
Mr John Rutherford worked as a jeweller at Mr J. D. Roe's shop for many years. Mr H. D. Henderson took over the shop from Mr Roe, but Roe was the name which remained over the door of the shop on Church Street. There are 2 reasons for appending brief biographical details on Mr Rutherford. It was rumoured that he had played football for Manchester City, but that is an example of the folk memory not letting the facts get in the way of a good story. It was his namesake, John - Jock Rutherford who played for Manchester City and Arsenal, among other teams in a lengthy career. In 1933, Mr Rutherford was the innocent bystander in a row which involved Dan Breen, T. D. and a local man, John Dunne. When he was going home, he witnessed a fracas in which a gun was produced, but no shot was discharged. A relative of Mr Dunne's informed me that in his opinion, Mr Rutherford had ensured that there was no fatality arising from this incident. John Rutherford died in January 1968.