|IF Cups could talk, the Jack Blakely Cup would have some yarn to tell. |
As you can see above, it’s a beautiful piece of silverware – not unlike the Sam Maguire or the Ardagh Chalice – and it’s made of solid silver or so it appears.
It’s a valuable piece of history that has been recently reunited with the keepers of the cup, the Dublin District Schoolboys League.Very little is known about the origins of the cup and the DDSL are now anxious to discover who Jack Blakely was and to fill in the details as the league looks to relaunch a beautiful creation into the vault of trophies on offer to their constituent clubs.
It must be said that the cup’s return would not have happened if it were not for the good offices of Des Donaldson, now into his 70s and a former Glenmore Celtic player.
He was a utility player in that left full or left half was his preferred position, but he also lined out in goal when the club played out of the IGBC Grounds in Goatstown.
Once as an emergency centre forward netted four goals in a four-nil win over Bianco (Baxendales) in an AUL game only to be somewhat miffed when team mate and current DDSL official Brendan Finn was credited with the four-timer in the following week’s reports in the newspapers.
It was another sport however which was key to the rediscovery of the silver chalice and that was the game of tennis.
Des is still a member of Mount Pleasant Lawn Tennis Club and the groundsman/gardener at the time, the late Paddy Kirk, whilst doing a clean up found the cup half buried in some foliage. The cup was weathered and tarnished and the consensus was that it probably ended up there as the result of some burglary or house break-in. Regardless, there was no base and so went with it all the previous winners.
The cup was tossed into the Mount Pleasant LTC tool-shed and there it lay for some years until a refurbishment saw the trophy passed over to Des Donaldson because of his previous association with the game.
Des never played schoolboy football but local leagues out around Mount Merrion, Dundrum, Kilmacud, Dundrum was his first experience with the game and that moved on to a Novice league played in the Phoenix Park where as a raw 16-year-old he found himself tossed into the world of adult football playing for Priory Rovers.
“It was a great learning experience although you had some tough teams like Black Diamonds who helped fill up the numbers an you knew you had been in a match after you played them.” said Des
When he took possession of the cup it was in the boot of his car for several years and it was only when he was changing car that the cup found its way into his fathers’ coal-house.
There the cup faded in colour for a few more years before Des’ dad decided to shine it up and bring it back to life.
Des was greeted with: “You know that cup is valuable. I’ve polished it up and it’s got hallmarks on it. I think it’s solid silver,” as he arrived in for a visit one day.
Des then made a decision to try reunite the cup with its rightful owners but a call to the FAI brought no luck. Then the late George Briggs, LFA Secretary and while he knew of Jack Blakely, he could shed no additional light and the same was true with LFA General Secretary incumbent, the late John Griffith.
The cup was on the back-burner for another couple of years when Jack took up the gauntlet again and this time he contacted George Victory, Secretary of the DDSL.
“George was delighted with the call and thrilled to hear of the cup’s existence although he know nothing about Jack Blakely himself,” said Des Donaldson talking to STRIKERONLINE
Said George Victory: “Its a fabulous trophy and we are delighted to be re-united with it. I’ve done a little bit of research and the only information I can come up with is that St Josephs Boys defeated Cherry Orchard in the 1973/74 version of the cup at Santry Lane on a midweek night – Joes coming out best in a penalty shootout after 0-0 draw.”
“So, the appeal is now to the grassroots family to try shed more light on who was Jack Blakely? Did he have a connection with Trinity College if the game was played at the colleges’ sports grounds in Santry?
Or was it just a random booking by the league at that time?
The inscription on the cup says: ‘Presented by the Leinster Football Association to the DDSL’, so if there anyone who recognises that link or Blakely family members who would be able to add to the story?
Anyone with any information about Jack Blakely or the background about the cup is asked to email: firstname.lastname@example.org. or text 087 2108845