On this day, 60 years, one of the best known players in rugby history made his Dolphin Debut. Record breaking winger, Sir A J F O’Reilly was in Cork, running Suttons for two years before he joined An Bord Bainne, as General Manager where they developed the Kerrygold brand.
Tony O’Reilly had injured his shoulder on the Lions tour to Australia & New Zealand and the friendly against Old Crescent was one of the first games he played in 1960 that he lasted 80 minutes. There was a huge crowd around the second pitch in Musgrave Park for his well anticipated debut,(a far cry from his Lions Test debut at Ellis Park in front of 95,000) as the main pitch was being carefully preserved for Munster’s games v Connacht and South Africa.
Playing at 2nd centre he scored a try in a 6-6 draw. Two weeks later Dolphin hosted Blackrock College, a game which also finished in a draw 8-8. O’Reilly had cried off the Leinster side that day, giving himself a gruelling test and emerged with flying colours. He scored two tries, the first charging through three forwards, the second showing his speed and skill.
He had originally come to prominence making his Ireland debut at 18, a matter of months out of school. He earned 29 Irish caps (three while with Dolphin) between 1955 and 1970, his Five Nations career of 15 years 23 days is the longest in history. His final appearance after a six year absence was an 11th-hour replacement, denying Frank O’Driscoll—(Brian’s father ) his only chance at a Test cap.
He holds many other records which are unlikely to be broken. He holds the appearance and scoring records for the Barbarians, 30 tries in 38 appearances (three while with Dolphin). Between the 1955 Lions tours to South Africa and 1959 tour to Australia & New Zealand he made 38 appearances scoring 30 tries, another record. Ten of those appearances and six of the tries were in International Tests.
He was in the first class of inductees into the International Rugby Hall of Fame in 1997, and was inducted into the IRB Hall of Fame in 2009.
Copy of Cork Examiner match report