Harry Blake Is Still There – After 34 years
Without Harry Blake there would have been be no Galwegians Rugby Club. He helped to start the club 34 years ago – and he’s still with them today.
So Harry Blake was the man I wanted to tell me the story of Galwegians. One bright moring I drive up to the Blake home, a country mansion that look sout over Galway Bay.
Harry was ill. His wife took me to his bedroom and there he was, sitting up in bed and talking rugby with Jack Deacy and Sean Healy.
Talking with them took me back into Galwegians history. They told me how the club was formed, of the early struggles to keep the game alive and of the wonderful progress over the past years.
There were three clubs in Connacht in the season 1921-22 – University College Galway, Galway Town, and Sligo – and Galway Town wereon the way out. Out they went the following season.
Harry Blake and a few pals decided that the game must go on in teh city – so they formed Galwegians. It was a corageous decision – and one they never regretted. Today the club has five teams with players ranging from schoolboys to seniors.
The Seniors went on tour to France in November and the Juniors have fixed a tour to the Isle of Man at Easter. It will be financed by the tour fund they have among the players.
After the war, Galwegians made a great effort to boost rugby in teh West. They brought over, at their own expense, the famous Vikings side, but the match was a financial flop.
Undismayed, they have continued to bring over many famous touring sides. And rarely have they had to call on guest players, so rich is the quality of Galway rugby talent.
Galwegians are Connacht Cup holders and they have won it eight times in all. Starting in 1926 they won the Cup four times in a row.
Racing Club de France were greatly impressed by Galwegian playing standards – and their hospitality – when they visited the West. They wanted to repay the Irishmen for a wonderful time.
That’s why Galwegians were in France in November. That’s why the French International trial was cancelled so that a really strong team could be fielded against the boys from Galway.
In recent seasons Galwegians have had eight, nine, ten and even 12 players in the Connacht team.
Connacht fielded three internationalis for the first time against Munster in Cork in October. They were Dickie Roche, Charlie Lydon and Brendan Guerin – all from Galwegians.
Galway folk have another international in their team. Latest to join the elite is Tony O’Sullivan, club captain and one of the best lock forwards in Ireland.
Galwegian players have given the club prominence by their performances on the field and by the quality of their rugby. But we must not forget the backroom boys who have steered the club through difficult times, the men who today are playing their part in the affairs of teh Union, branch and club.
Seen club rise
Harry Blake has been president of Galwegains since 1928. He has seen the club rise from a shaky start 34 years ago to its present status. galway folk will always remember Harry Blake.
They will also remember Henry Anderson, one of Harry Blake’s ablest assistants in the early days. He was Connacht’s first rugby international and their first president of the Irish Rugby Football Union.
The club has given many splendid men to the administrative side of the game. Johnny Glynn is junior vice president of the Union and secretary of Connacht branch. Harry Blake and Chris Crowley are on the committee of teh Union and Chris is treasurer of the branch.
Jack Deacy represents Galwegians on the Connacht branch. Gerry Dodd is secretary of the club, with Jack Fitzgerald as treasurer.
Gerry Dodd helped to make an unusual record for Galwegains last season. He gave his 14 stone odd to the second row of thejunior team and was supported by 22 stone Des Dempsey. A second row of nearly 37 stone … Can you beat that?