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Moss Finn meets the President of Ireland Patrick J Hillery before the start of the Ireland v England rugby international at Lansdowne Road in 1979. 
Moss Finn meets the President of Ireland Patrick J Hillery before the start of the Ireland v England rugby international at Lansdowne Road in 1979. 
SOCIAL BOOKMARKS

The Leeside Legends series: Popular Moss Finn had a key role in historic Munster triumph

MUNSTER created history when they defeated the All-Blacks in 1978 in front of an ecstatic crowd of around 12,000 who witnessed an epic victory for the provincial side.

In the months and years after this famous win, up to 100,000 claimed to have been at the game on that famous day.

Winger Moss Finn, who played a major part in the Munster win, was one of the lucky players to be involved in that memorable win. He's seen become a very popular figure on Leeside running the Finn's Corner sports shop, passing his knowledge and passion for rugby on to the next generation.

Picture: Jim Coughlan
Picture: Jim Coughlan

Finn was born in Bishopstown in 1957 and played his underage rugby with Highfield.

Like many successful rugby players, he gained invaluable experience at Presentation Brothers College Cork where he played a major part in the school’s Munster Junior Cup-winning side in 1973.

PBC winners of Munster Senior Schools Soccer Cup 1974. Back: Ian Shorten, Colm Moore, Jimmy Bowen, Billy Kelleher, Jerry Owens, Barry Jones, Moss Finn. Front: Donie O'Sullivan, Harry McSweeny, Richy Noonan, Mickey O'Sullivan.
PBC winners of Munster Senior Schools Soccer Cup 1974. Back: Ian Shorten, Colm Moore, Jimmy Bowen, Billy Kelleher, Jerry Owens, Barry Jones, Moss Finn. Front: Donie O'Sullivan, Harry McSweeny, Richy Noonan, Mickey O'Sullivan.

It got better for Finn in 1975 when he captained his school to win the Munster Senior Cup title which was their first win in this competition for six years.

During his schooldays, Finn also won a Munster U16 Sprint Championship and participated in athletics with Cork club Leevale.

Finn was also on the winning UCC team that defeated Dolphin in a thrilling Munster Senior Cup final in 1976.

The most intriguing part of that win was that the college coach, Paddy Kiely, was team captain in 1963 the last time UCC had won the Munster Senior Cup.

Finn spent a year in London studying for a physical education degree where he played his club rugby with London Irish before returning to play with Cork Constitution.

In his nine years at Cork Con he helped them win five Munster Senior leagues and three Munster Senior Cups.

He played with his province from 1977 to 1989 but the victory over the All-Blacks in 1978 is the highlight of his time playing with Munster.

“I remember Tony Ward’s performance on the day, he was out of this world and another memory was coming onto the Thomond Park pitch at half-time, the crowd gave us a standing ovation at the resumption which really instilled passion into our game,” said Finn.

The Munster team which defeated the All Blacks at Thomond Park.
The Munster team which defeated the All Blacks at Thomond Park.

The win by Munster went into the history books as it was the only game that the All-Blacks had actually lost on their British and Irish tour, as well as the fact that it was their best team that played on the day in Limerick.

Finn won his first international cap in 1979, but an injury saw him sidelined for a year and he was not recalled to the Irish team until 1982.

When the recall came, Finn was lucky to play in the game against Wales as it was delayed a week due to heavy snow on Lansdowne Road pitch.

“During my rugby career I was plagued with hamstring injuries and on the eve of the original game it went again, but thankfully Lady Luck was on my side this time as the game was actually deferred for a week.”

The Triple Crown-winning team of 1982 was outstanding as Finn recalled the game against Wales that season.

“I got a knock on the head scoring my first try and although scoring a second, I actually cannot recall getting over the line.

“I actually asked Willie Duggan, with five minutes remaining, what the score was, but his reply to me is unrepeatable.”

Moss Finn, third from left, playing for Ireland against England.
Moss Finn, third from left, playing for Ireland against England.

Finn speaks fondly of people like Des Barry who coached him at schools level and Tom Kiernan at senior level.

During his distinguished career, Finn played with some great players and some great characters, but the one man that stood out amongst them all was the legendary Moss Keane.

Humorous, genuine, and a great athlete was how Finn described his former Munster and Ireland team-mate.

Munster’s great run over the last few seasons is one the best things to happen to rugby according to Finn.

“The Munster teams gave the whole province, and indeed many corners of Ireland, a huge lift over the years.”

Finn won 14 international caps in his career and he reflected on these memorable days.

“Injuries didn’t help my cause when it came to chalking up international caps, but I was proud of representing my country 14 times and when you look at Ollie Campbell who had only 20 caps you realise it wasn’t easy back in those days.”

Finn served clubs, province, and country with honour and the city of Cork will always appreciate his contribution to his chosen sport.

Jerry Flannery with Moss Finn. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Jerry Flannery with Moss Finn. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

FACTFILE: 

  • Moss Finn was a member of the Munster team that defeated the All-Blacks at Thomond Park in 1978.
  • He played rugby with London Irish for one year while studying for a PE degree in London.
  • While playing for Cork Constitution for nine years, he helped them win six Munster Senior League titles and three Munster Senior Cups.
  • He received his first senior international rugby cap in 1979.
  • Finn played a major part when Ireland won the Triple Crown in 1982.