The Birr RFC U-10 team which won the inaugural Tom Kettle Cup in 1985. Back row, l-r: Noel Coughlan (coach), Edmond Enright (Mundy), Richie Coughlan, William Coughlan, Michael Barlow, Colin Hanniffy. Front row, l-r: Ronan O’Gara, Tristan Dooley, Eoin Loughnane, Jim Davis, Alan Hennessy. Photo: Sean Loughnane.

The day Mundy and Ronan O'Gara played rugby together

In 1985, Birr RFC won the inaugural Tom Kettle Cup (an under-10 rugby tournament) in Balbriggan RFC.

This was the first Leinster U-10 ‘festival of rugby’ and the trophy was named in memory of Tom Kettle, a Balbriggan RFC stalwart and a founder of youths rugby in Leinster.

On the day the Birr team was coached by Noel Coughlan, a man who served many roles in the club over the years - player, coach, minis coordinator and ultimately president in 1992-93.

The traveling Birr team consisted of Edmond Enright, Richie Coughlan, William Coughlan, Michael Barlow, Colin Hanniffy, Tristan Dooley, Alan Hennessy, Jim Davis, Eoin Loughnane and his younger cousin, Ronan O’Gara.

No doubt, Noel was proud of the success of all the players he coached over the years especially the notable success, both on and off the pitch, of three of the players who took to the field that day.

Edmond Enright, or Mundy as he is most commonly known, went on to become a successful singer-songwriter with well-known songs such as ‘Mexico’, ‘July’ and ‘Galway Girl’ and ‘Gin & Tonic Sky’ to name but a few.

Richie Coughlan went on to become a professional golfer and in 1997 he became the first player in history to qualify for the PGA Tour and the European Tour in his rookie season.

Ronan O’Gara went on to play senior rugby for Munster and Ireland. He epitomised the new breed of professional rugby player and became an outstanding success, winning 128 caps for Ireland, three Triple Crowns, a Grand Slam in 2009, as well as playing on three British and Irish Lions tours. The Cork man played for 16 seasons with Munster, with whom he won two Heineken European Cups. Birr RFC folk like to think it all started in their club, when O’Gara was eight years old and visiting his cousin Eoin.

In 2016, Balbriggan again hosted the festival, where Birr RFC were presented with a memorial plaque by the Balbriggan RFC President David McFadden in recognition of this first win and were delighted to hear of the success stories from the 1985 team.

- Padraig Burns & Brian Hogan.

More from this Topic