Back in the early years of the old century, rugby was still finding its feet in Limerick. Its popularity was growing, the number of teams competing locally was strong but it certainly wasn’t plain sailing for the organisers. Discipline was a problem on the field while off it objections and counter objections were commonplace; however in 1910 a new problem arose. Shannon were holders of the City Junior Cup but for some reason the club refused to hand back the trophy after they failed in their bid for retention.
Young Garryowen , or the Guabies as they were known beat Young Munster in the 1910 final after two replays, however despite strenuous appeals Shannon still would not part with the silverware. It was a stance that was not greeted favourably by the rugby public of the city and the disappointment was expressed through the local rugby correspondent in the Limerick Leader, “I was greatly surprised at the action of the Shannon in not handing back the cup when the competition was complete. A Shannon club official told me that they gave no sureties to be responsible for returning the cup. What use is the cup to a team if they do not win it? Surely there is a lack of sportsmanship somewhere” The withholding of trophies was not just confined to Shannon that year, Young Munster showed a reluctance to return the Transfield cup, but they did relent eventually however by the time they took the action it was too late to organise the competition. Shannon were holding firm and even by the end of the season their attitude hadn’t faltered and they still maintained they had the right to withhold the cup. Strangely, the local administrators didn’t take punitive action against the club and even went so far as to admit Shannon as formal members of the Munster Branch at the Annual General meeting in September 1910. It was an admittance that meant Shannon along with Young Munster and Limerick City (formally Young Garryowen) could now compete in the Munster Junior cup. Despite Shannon’s elevation they still flatly refused to hand over the City Cup and again for the second successive season, the final went ahead without Shannon, and without the cup Once again an appeal to Shannon’s committee by the local scribe in the Limerick Leader was made “.... the junior cup is now the only competition with no trophy to present to the winning captain. It is time for Shannon to forget old troubles and return the cup. They have held it now for several years owing to a dispute with Young Garryowen (now Limerick City). Many members of the club are not in sympathy with the ‘cup keeping’ and it is a pity to see a team with such a sporting record making so great a mistake. “if only in compliment to such men as Paddy Healy, Tom Halpin and the O’Connor brothers, all old Shannon men, the least someone can do is to call a meeting and decide to return the cup as men, and forget they kept it as boys” Harsh words indeed, but that appeal and many others fell on deaf ears and the victorious team of 1910/11, Young Munster had to contend with the medals but no cup. The source for Shannon’s stance is somewhat vague, but the above suggestion by the rugby reporter that a dispute with Young Garryowen was at the heart of the matter seems to have some merit, but as the years went on it was probably mere stubbornness that fuelled the viewpoint. The new season brought a softening of attitudes by the Shannon committee. Perhaps it was their accession to the Munster junior cup and their new found status within the Munster Branch, but whatever the reason, they finally relented and returned the City Junior cup after three years in possession. The irony of the whole affair is that when Shannon illegally held the cup , they failed to qualify for the City cup final , but when sense finally prevailed in 1911/12 not only did they qualify for the final, but won the competition. And who did they beat in the final? Only the alleged source of their quibble, Young Garryowen, now plying their trade as Limerick city after a replay. Things have certainly changed since then. Nowadays if Shannon want to keep hold of a trophy for several years they go out and legitimately win it like the AIB league with two periods of successive victories and of course, the Munster senior cup record of 7 consecutive titles at the start of the new millennium. However, if it was only that easy everyone would be at it!!