2021 Transatlantic Rugby Trip Called Off by New Jersey Based Morris Corporation

Where’s Ralph ?  Morris Masters scrum-half, John Sutherland expertly feeding his line with back-up from Joesph Ohm and Mike Ryan as Castleisland AFC’s Edward Horgan, Brian Fleming and Declan Smith smell danger during the 2020 and eighth annual challenge between the teams at The Crageens. ©Photograph: John Reidy 17-1-2020
Referee Fergal Courtney pictured between Castleisland RFC captain, Declan Smith (left) and Morris Rugby Corporation, New Jersey captain, Chris Walsh. Such are the links built up between the sides that Mr. Walsh also sprinkled some of his late father’s ashes on the pitch at The Crageens after the 2020 encounter. ©Photograph: John Reidy 17-1-2020

Castleisland’s ambassador in the New Jersey based Morris Rugby Corporation, Seamus Brosnan sent a forlorn message across the Atlantic Ocean recently with news that didn’t surprise anyone.

The Castleisland native opened with the line: ‘We are missing Castleisland very much.’

Started in Sheila Prendiville’s

“This was meant to be our ninth annual rugby trip to Castleisland, one that started many moons ago in Sheila Prendiville’s and has expanded ever since.

“For reason’s too well know to us all, this year’s trip was postponed as was the accompanying Munster European Cup game.

Lest History Forget 

“Anyway, lest history forget what we missed, Morris Rugby reporter Ralph Scoville wrote the following account of what would have happened had the trip taken place this month.”

Morris Rugby Traveling to Castleisland – A Sacred Ritual

Ralph Scoville sent this account of what might have happened if the New Jersey based team made it to Castleisland this month.

By Ralph Scoville

Traditionally, the observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in the US coincides with another sacred ritual – Morris Rugby traveling to Castleisland for a celebration of life and rugby.

This was to have been the once-in-a-lifetime, never-to-be-repeated, ninth annual weekend, but as with everything else across the world, traditions had to be paused for health reasons.

As we could not hold our manly contest, our team captains still felt that there should be a recap of what never happened.

The Game That Never Was

I, Ralph Scoville, will try to summarize and highlight the events of this game that never was.

Morris would take the red-eye into Shannon and head immediately to the Brosnan house for pre-game activities and Irish ‘spirits.’

The sun shone brilliantly above as if to welcome Morris to Ireland. As the 17 course meal was drawing to a close, it was time to head to the pitch.

As we stepped out of the house, we were met with weather that you would not send your dog out into: cold, dark, wet and windy….. but perfect for rugby.

A 15 Minute Walk

Normally the Crageens is a 15 minute walk. Between the elements and a weeeee bit too many pints and shots, and the ritual stop at the Fountain to gaze at Con Houlihan and the remains of Sheila Prendiville’s Bar, the walk ended up taking 30 minutes.

The crowd gathered as the captains Mike Ryan, Morris and Bill Horgan, Castleisland met for the coin toss.

Bill noted that although Mike kept his holey, holy, 20 year old shorts, he at least had clean underwear on underneath.

Legendary Dan Casey

As both teams lined up for the start, a hush fell over the thousands in attendance, followed by a collective GASP…. Legendary Dan Casey had come out of retirement.

As usual, Séamus was a traitor and cast aside his US friends in favor of his local town mates.

The game was a sloppy affair.

Morris Old Gal Lil Rimac would be the referee. She tried to keep the game moving, overlooking numerous infractions and boyish uppercuts and pointy elbows.

Elements and Old Reflexes

Between the elements and old reflexes not being quite as responsive as they used to be, drop balls were numerous.

All the rucks and scrum-downs did have the benefit of the jerseys soaking up all the water from the puddles.

Midway through, Don Slade attempted a box-kick from the Morris end.

Unfortunately, it went into the teeth of the wind and was repelled directly back into his mush, loosening a few of his own teeth.

For those of us that know and love Don, this could only improve his looks.

Smith Breaks Free

Andy Smith, transplanted from far away Listowel, would break free for a try and Castleisland would lead 5-0 at the half.

Back in the Morris huddle, Ronan O’Laughlin, not that other American O’Gara, would exhort his teammates.

At least, that’s what I thought. Between the Donegal accent and the alcohol, God knows what he actually said.

Late in the Game

But a collective ‘GO MORRIS’ would arise. Whatever he said clearly worked.

The second half continued, the pace of play made even slower by the aging muscles acting even slower.

Late in the game, Chris Walsh scampered down to the 22M, where that crafty veteran John Sutherland pulled the ball out of the ruck and sold a dummy.

No, he did not give a tremendous fake that caused the Castleislanders to lose their collective jockstraps, he literally sold them a dummy, as he is a ventriloquist on the side.

First Career Away Try

Whilst they were arguing over who would pay for the dummy, John flipped to yours truly, who turtle-walked into the try zone for the first try of his 40-year career.

Mitch Miller would add the conversion and the Morris ref would quickly whistle the game over. The home team was stunned, but Morris had just pulled off their first International victory and won the John Browne Memorial Cup.

Back at Browne’s Bar

Back at Peter Browne’s, John’s trickery was the talk of the bar. The Irish thought they had mastered all the ‘tricks’ of the game, but that wily Yank had one-upped them.

There was muttering that they should revoke the Honorary Lifetime membership they had bequeathed on him last year.

Luckily, word was quickly spreading that Mike Ryan was buying a round of Jameson for the house and all such muttering was quickly muffled.

Both teams would look forward to the 10th annual match in 2022….. and the hope that it actually will occur.

Meanwhile, maybe the Morris Rugby Corporation members might like to throw in a collective pot and a little gamble on the Castleisland RFC Split the Bucket Draw and they can do so on-line with a click on the link here: https://app.superpayit.com/recurring-payment/initiate/iM16Pww/?fbclid=IwAR2o5cnHeUkab1aqHy1iSgQAnddRG8bd-Yp7VDStT1F-nZ6TR7nCPnMbgko

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