The following article was written by Tony O Donoghue of Limerick Lawn Tennis Club.  It gives a history of the Munster Senior Cup, the premier Munster tennis event which remarkably has been running since 1907.
I only came across the article again recently.  It was written in 2004 so it is missing the last few years.  It is a very interesting read, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

The Beginning

Norman Brooks a tall left-hander from Australia was the first male overseas player to win Wimbledon.  The year was 1907. History was being made.  Picture the time it took, six weeks to travel by boat from Australia to Wimbledon.
No two or three cars per home.  You would be lucky to have two or three cars per club.  Your Ford car could be any colour as long it was black.  They had just taken the man with the red flag away from the front of the car.  The speed limit was how fast you could get it to go.
All this made it very difficult to play competitive matches between clubs in Munster.  Matches were probably played over the weekend.  With only grass courts available there was no play before 11am because of the dew on the grass and then of course the need to finish before bad light.
Rumour has it that if a player owned a car their chance of being selected greatly enhanced.  This was the first year the Munster Senior Cup was played for - history was beginning.

First Winners 

The first winners of the Munster Senior Cup were Rushbrooke - who they defeated in the final is unknown.  Then in 1908, Blackrock had to travel to Cobh to win and get their name on the Cup.
I know it's hard to believe but Tralee were the winners in 1909.  Can you imagine the journey and the time it took for Tralee?  1910 saw Inishannon just outside Cork won.  So in the first four years four different clubs shared the Cup.
From 1911 to 1914 Blackrock took charge of the Munster Cup.  Included in these teams were F.J. Daly, J.J. Daly, M.J. Daly, and Capt J. Higgon and Rev. J. Connolly.  The ladies were Mrs. Madden, Miss Haughton, Mrs. Lyons, Miss Tivy and Mrs. M.J. Daly.
Ben Haughton who played in all of the four teams went on to win eight Munster Cups with Blackrock and was a major asset to the team.

War Interuptions 

The Cup was put in cold storage from 1915 to 1919.  This was during the First World War and as we were still part of the British Empire, and Tennis in those early days was mostly played where there was a British Army Barracks, naturally tennis took a back seat during the period.
The competition started once again in 1920 for one year only.  The winners were Fermoy and the men on the team were all members of the armed forces.
There was further interuption during 1921, 1922, 1923, the Cup was not played for, it would seem that having got rid of the Brits, we then decided to fall out with each other, so tennis was interupted for these years.

The Haughton Era

In 1924 the Competition started once again.  The format up to 1920 was four men and four ladies.  The resumed competition now had a changed format.  Teams were reduced from 8 players to 6 players.
On the courts, it was as if it never stopped, Blackrock were in to win the first two with Ben Haughton and the Haughton girls.
Then Rushbrooke won in 1926, but back came Blackrock with the Haughton's in 1927.  Rushbrooke were winners again in 1928.  it looked like Blackrock and Rushbrooke had a private battle going on.
However in 1929 the Cup went to North Munster for the first time.  Limerick Lawn were winners and the team were the Gubbins and the Westropp's, AS Welply and Miss K Goodbody.
Blackrock dominated the 30's with six wins between 1930 and 1938 with rushbrooke winning on 2 occassions.  The Haughton's and the Daly's were the driving force in Blackrock.
In the late 30's Alan Haughton took over from his dad Ben in the Blackrock team.  Alan Haughton was one of the best tennis players to play Munster Cup.  He also played Davis Cup for Ireland and has the Inter Pro Vets Cup in his name.
He played on the Blackrock teams of 1937 and 1938 with E.I. Harte-Barry, the father of Don Harte-Barry, whom Alan would later play with in the Munster Cup, but for Rushbrooke.

First Waterford Win

In 1935 Waterford won the Cup for the first time .  The team were Mrs. U. Moore, Miss H. Miler, Miss A. Plumer, JB Farrell, PJ O'Connor and RJ Farrell.
In 1939 the Cup went North again to Limerick Lawn giving the Westropp's their second Munster Cup.

Glanmire Success

The Cup returned to Cork in 1940 and 41, this time to a different home.  Glanmire being the winners twice.  The team had the Dwyer ladies, Mrs D B O'Sullivan, F C South, J N Berry, R Cameron and D C Mahony.

Last Blackrock Win

1946 saw Blackrock win again, with Miss H and E Roche, E Homan, N Daly, B A Haughton, D Barry, M F Lynch and F J Mockler.  Alas 1946 was the last time that Blackrock would win the Cup after winning a remarkable 18 times since its inception.
It seems Blackrock went into decline about this time, but re-emerged later as St. Michael's who are one of the prominent clubs in Munster today.
1947 and 1948 saw the return of the famed Rushbrooke who had not won since 1931.  The team was F G Heaslip, W G and D E Harman, Miss Harman, Miss J Dwyer, Miss G N Dalton.  Then in 1949 once again the Cup went North to Limerick Lawn.  Mr and Mrs D B O'Sullivan were the mainstay of the team supported by J Foynes, Miss D Hunt, Miss E Flattery and captained by R J Quin (Dickie).

Douglas (Civil Service)

Douglas (Civil Service) were winners in 1950 and 1951.  It would seem the club was originally started by members of the Civil Service later to become Douglas Lawn Tennis Club.  The team was N Lucy(capt), E Quinlan, J Buckley, Mrs R Green, Miss H Foley and Miss K Travers.
Limerick Lawn were back to win in 1952, 53, and 54.  The 1952 team included N Harris (brother of Richard the actor), Mrs O'Sullivan and the Hunt sisters played all three, as did T Cleary, J Foynes and J O Malley.
Paddy Keane played in the 1953 and 1954 teams and was also an international hockey player.  His daughter Patricia would win the Cup later with Catholic Institute in 1983.
Douglas brought the Cup back to Cork in 1955 captained by Dr. J Young (who won All Ireland hurling medals with Christy Ring and Jack Lynch for Cork), assisted by Mrs. Foley-Lane, Miss N O Connor, Mrs K Buckley, S Clehane and D Corby.

Hillsboro Glory Years

Hillsboro a small club in the Boreenamanna road area were winners in 1957 and 1958, Miss A Delaney, Mrs Stott, Miss Whittaker, Des Scannell and the Mockler brothers (whom the Mockler Cup was named after).

Golden Era for Rushbrooke

Rushbrooke produced a crack side to win in 1959 led by Alan Haughton who had moved from Blackrock.  Rushbrooke then won 8 times between 1959 and 1971.

Anthea has Most Wins

Included in the Rushbrooke 1959 team was Anthea (Goodbody) O'Donoghue who was starting her own Munster Cup Campaign of 13 wins, all with Rushbrooke.  This remarkable feat, which surely will not be bettered, beats Alan Haughton by 1.  Alan has 6 with Blackrock and 6 with Rushbrooke.
Rushbrooke club had an abundance of talent in the 60's.  The players included Anthea O'Donoghue (nee Goodbody) 13 wins, Alan haughton 12 wins, F.O. Furney 8 wins, D. Harte-Barry 8 wins.  And added to those were Miss GM McAuliffe, Hazel Furney, J McAuliffe, Red O'Donoghue, Miss J Cronin and Miss A Weldon (who I believe umpired at Wimbledon).

Cork Lawn Era

Rushbrooke's golden era was well challenged in 1960 and 1962 when Cork Lawn won the Cup.  It would seem from information gathered that one Willie J O'Regan made the Munster Cup top priority for his club.  Cork Lawn had risen like a Phoenix from the ashes of the clubs on the Boreenamanna Road - Glananmaar, Hillsboro (winners in 1957 and 1958), Altona and Belvoir.
The Cork Lawn team was Dr M J O'Brien, Dr J E Young (winner with Douglas), A McAlister, W J O'Regan (Capt.), the Delaney sisters, Mrs T Hassett and J McAuliffe.

Franks Furney on Motorbike

 Talking with Franks Furney he told me he use to ride his motorbike from Buttevant to Rushbrooke, a journey of an hour each way, to play his game of tennis provided it didn't rain.  So in the mid sixties when the hard courts (tarmac) arrived they were most welcome, because they made the playing of matches more reliable.

Unplayed in 1967 and 1968

1967 and 1968 are not marked on the Cup and we assume that it was not played for.
The general Munster rules of the time were that if you played Munster Cup you could not play any other cup.  So clubs apparently took the view that they could not afford to use their good players off other teams in an effort to win the Munster Cup from such strong opposition as Rushbrooke, hence no event.
However no matter how good you are some day someone comes to challenge.  1972 saw the Cup go past Mallow once more to Limerick Lawn.  This team captained by M O'Malley broke the run of Rushbrooke.  Included in the team was Mrs A Bradshaw, Miss M Connolly, Mrs A Stafford, Don O'Connell and George Jones an American who must have been the first to win the Cup.

Floodlights and Format Changes.

Tarmac courts in the 1960's was a major change.  The mid 1970's saw the next major change, floodlighting was now introduced onto hardcourts.  Now players could play in most weather conditions and play later into the night, this made games easier to arrange and complete.
In 1973, '74, '75, and '76 the Munster Cup was played by teams of 4, two men and two women.  In 1973 Rushbrooke were back and the team group included R Daunt, S Hehir, Mrs A O Donoghue, A Weldon and J Cronin.
In 1974 St. Anne's of Waterford won and included in the team group were Miss J Russell, G Cheasty, F O'Mahony, P Murphy and Mrs M Ryan (who would later partner Anthea O Donoghue and represent Ireland at Veterans International Level).  Also there was Paddy Murphy who would go on to partner Franks Furney also at Veterans International level.
In 1975 Rushbrooke were back again and the team was D Harte-Barry, Red O'Donoghue, Mrs A O'Donoghue and A Weldon.  In 1976 St.Annes were winners with the help of Mrs M Ryan, Mrs G Russell, Mr R Gibney and P Murphy.

Cup goes to Galway LTC

The teams returned to six players in 1977.  It was an unusual year, not only did the cup go north, but it went out of the Province.  Yes to the city of the Tribes.  The Galway LTC team was N Murphy, D Donnell, A Poustie, Mrs A Kelly, Mgt McLoughlin and J Smith.
After the shock of Galway winning the Munster Cup, Rushbrooke got back to their winning ways in 1978, '79, '81 and '82.  R Daunt, D Harte-Barry, R O'Donoghue,, Mrs A O'Donoghue, Miss A Weldon and D LInehan were all on the 1979 team.

Catholic Institute Win in 1983 

1983 saw Catholic Institute remind us that there is another great club in Limerick, when they won the Cup.  Institute had the O'Shea brothers, Tony and Frank, G Deegan and L Power.  The ladies were Ger O'Shea (wife of Tony), P Keane whose father played in 1953 and '54 with Limerick Lawn and Fiona Long who went onto play Federation Cup for Ireland and of course remains a key figure in teh successful Limerick Lawn teams of today.

Sunday's Well Glory Era

That great run of Rushbrooke wins from 1978 was interrupted by Sunday's Well in 1980 who were winning for the first time.  Sundays Well had G Morris, G Dwyer, E J Smith, A Kenny, L Henry and Alice Fawsitt, who was to play in every Sundays Well team that won the Munster Cup.  The club has won 8 times in all.
From 1984 to 1988, Sundays Well dominated, winning 5 in a row.  This was the first time 5 in a row was done by a club,  The Sundays Well club had some wonderful players and men included D Crowley, J Coulter, C O'Neill, S O'Sullivan, E Crotty, P Buckley and G Morris.  The ladies included N Crotty, J Kelly, P Scott, J Hyland, J O'Mahony, M Kirwan and A Fawsitt who played in all five.
Now you might ask why it was that one of the biggest clubs in the province had not won a Munster Cup until 1980, well here's the answer.  You can't win a Munster Cup without ladies on your team, somewhat like the ban in G.A.A, the Sundays Well club did not allow ladies full membership until late in te 1970's.

Jennifer Ann - The Youngest Captain?

Who could stop the Sundays Well march in the 80's?  Who else but the club from Cobh who had the most Munster Cup wins, 23 in all.  The Rushbrooke team included R.Daunt, L O'Brien, F.McDonnell, M Breen, A Dolan and M Kahn.
This was not the start of another era of dominance by Rushbrooke, because in 1990 the Cup left Cork to go north to Limerick Lawn.  Limerick Lawn were captained by JA Mulholland at 14 years of age was probably the youngest captain of a Munster Cup winning team.
Included on the team were G Niland (one of Ireland's greatest players), G Cahillane and D Collins while the men included V Drummy (a Cork man who trained at the University of Limerick), R Niland and M Byrne.
However Sundays Well were not finished yet.  1991 and 1992 saw the ' Well get back on track.  The team included G Morris, S O'Sullivan, J Coulter, J Hyland, J O'Brien and A Fawsitt who of course was completing her 8 wins.
Not to be outdone, Limerick Lawn went back for the Cup in 1993 when they won with a very young team.  G McGill (who later represented Ireland in Davis Cup), K Fleming, K Higgins, JA Mulholland, D Collins and F Long, who now played for Limerick Lawn.

New Court Surfaces and New Rackets

The game of tennis itself saw a number of changes during the 1980's.  The early '80's saw the type of court change with the coming of artificial grass such as savanna, desso or omni-court.  We now had a similar surface to real grass with the added advantage of playing in all weather.
The '80's was also the end of an era in terms of the traditional wooden rackets.  The old power game of serve and volley with a wooden racket was to disappear, to be replaced by the graphite slamming baseliner's.  After a while of course, the serve and volley would come back, only now much more powerful.

Format Changes

There was another change in the team format for the cup in 1994.  The Munster Branch in its wisdom decided that more clubs should take part in the Munster Senior Cup.  I say its wisdom as I was on the Branch at the time.  So we decided to revert back to four players, 2 men and 2 ladies to encourage more clubs to play in the competition.

The Rise of Lower Aghada

In 1994, Lower Aghada one of the smaller clubs in Munster, emerged as winners of teh coveted Cup.  They were to go on to win 3 Munster Cups in a row.
The Flynn sisters, Yvonne and Caroline, L O'Brien and P Wright were the team in 1994.  In 1995 and 1996, they had E Butler instead of P Wright.
Rushbrooke were back again in 1997 to win number 23, with M Cusack, R Leahy, F McDonnell, A McDonnell and L O'Halloran.

Munster Cup takes a Long Holiday in Limerick Lawn

In 1998, Limerick Lawn captained by Fiona Long brought the Cup back to north Munster once again.  Then, Ger Holiday who the Cup his major goal, captained Limerick Lawn to success for the next four years.  He created a wonderful spirit among the players, which is still there today.

First Six in a Row

And in 2003, Limerick Lawn made history in that they became the first club to win 6 titles in a row.  Fiona Long, Ger Holiday and Deirdre Collins were ever present in all of those successful teams.  Deirdre was also in the 1990 and 1993 successful Lawn teams, giving her 8 wins all with Limerick Lawn.
The rest of the panel were Travis McDonagh, Andrew Jones, Jack Quilligan, Alan McCormack, Matt Mitchell, Dave Leahy, Jennifer Ann Mulholland, Jane Hession, Aoife O Neill and Gina O Connor.

Player Who Won the Cup with 2 Clubs

There have been several players that have won the Cup with more than one club.  Mrs D B O'Sullivan (Glanmire and Limerick Lawn), Dr J Young (Douglas and Cork Lawn), P Ahern (Hillsboro and Rushbrooke), A Haughton (Blackrock and Rushbrooke), M Kirwan (Cork Lawn and Sundays Well), Fiona Long (Catholic Institute and Limerick Lawn), Liam O Brien (Rushbrooke and Lower Aghada).
As far as I know no-one has won the Cup with 3 clubs.  There may be others who have won with 2 clubs and if you know of any please let us know.
This is as far as I can go with the Munster Senior Cup.  In the next Munster Tennis Magazine, we will list the winning clubs and teams in chronological order.  Meanwhile, one wonders what value could be put on this Cup.  It's illustrious history and the many great names on it, make it, in tennis terms at least, a very valuable and coveted prize.
The Cup which has being sponsored for the last number of years by Waterford Crystal, we thank them and Red O'Donoghue who was generoous in his sponsorship and let us not forget Anthea O'Donoghue (nee Goodbody), Red's wife who still holds the position of the most Munster Cup wins 13 in all.
So.when you're playing your own Munster Cup in grades 1-7 and you sit into your Merc, BMW or 4x4, think back to the beginning of Munster tennis and the hardship those players went through to represent their club.  So be proud when you're asked to play for your club.

Tony O'Donoghue

Like I said at the beginning the article only runs to 2004, so I will be in touch with Tony and see would he be willing to update it to present times.  Watch this Space!