Blast From The Past VII

Billy Cronin was a highly respected number eight for Garryowen and Sundays Well RFC.
Q. What are your memories of your early rugby career?
A. I started playing with Sundays Well aged fifteen, Michael Barry senior collected me in Mallow with six lads from Christians and six from Pres. Mick Barry recommended to my father that I join Rockwell College for fifth and sixth year despite my strong Gaelic football background. I subsequently received a ban from the GAA as I become more prominent in Rugby getting selected for Munster schoolboys. I won the cup in 1970 with Rockwell but was defeated in the semi-final in my last year.
Q. When did you get your first senior break?
A. I joined UCC and ended up on the senior team partnering Castleisland man Moss Keane in the second row. Moss drove me to my first match in a ‘Fiat 500’ with many UCC hurlers and basketballers packed into the same car. We won the Munster senior league in 1972/73 and I also played championship GAA as the ban was now lifted.
Q. What were the highlights of your playing career?
A. I got selected for Munster Juniors while in UCC but in a variety of positions, numbers 3,5,8. In 1975, I got selected for the Senior Munster XV while playing number 8 for Garryowen. We kept it very tight in the 1979 cup final against Young Munster (winning 3-0). I asked Pat Whelan ‘when would I leave the ball out of the scrum’ and he responded ‘Around half past four’.
Q. Who was your most difficult opponent?
A. Colm Tucker was my most difficult opponent and Christy Cantillionn was difficult to contain when playing with UCC. In Gaelic Football John Meyler of St. Fin barres was a formidable opponent when we wont the 1985 Final beating St. Finbarr’s (Aravale Rovers).
Q. Have you been involved in the game since you stopped playing?
A. My two sons have emerged as prominent players. Jerry Cronin propped for Ulster in the Heineken Cup
after emerging from the successful Ballinahynch team coached by Brian Mclaughlan. My other son Sam
Cronin scrum half for Clontarf has captained Irish clubs. I owned Mona’s (Sheehan’s) pub in Mallow and we received a phone call from Shannon Airport one day (around 1980) for Sundays Well players to leave urgently for their tour flight to the USA. The pub was latterly adapted by Garryowen and Young Munster before Mallow was bypassed.

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