Tom Kiernan who has passed away was one of Irish Rugby’s most decorated player and administrator. He began his playing career at Templehill with Cork Constitution ‘Conettes’at a tender age, under the tutelage of Dickie Magrath, an old International from the earliest days of the game. But it was at Presentation College that his star began to shine, playing on the Munster Junior Cup winning team of 1954, captained by his great friend Jerry Walsh, with whom he would have many great rugby days. And they went on to win the Senior Cup 1957, again captained by Jerry Walsh.
After Pres Tom went on to UCC, where he took a B.Comm degree and going on to complete his Accountancy qualification. Meanwhile, his star continued to shine, with College, Irish Universities and Munster, before winning his first Irish cap against England at Twickenham in 1960. After College he joined Cork Constitution, where his father Michael was President, and brother Jim was already starring.
Highlights from his club rugby career include a first Munster Senior Cup medal with UCC in 1963, before joining Cork Constitution, where he won a further six Cup medals, before retiring in 1974. He played for Munster against the Springboks at Musgrave Park in 1960, when Munster lost 3-9, and against the All Blacks at Thomond Park in 1963, when Munster lost 3-6; but he had the satisfaction of gaining a victory over Australia at Musgrave Park in 1967 when he captained Munster to an 11-8 victory.
He won his first Irish cap against England at Twickenham in 1960, converting Gerry Culliton’s try, but losing 5-8. He went on to win a record 54 caps until retirement in 1973, captaining the team on 25 occasions. Highlights included victory against England at Twickenham in 1960; over South Africa 1960; and Australia in Sydney 1967. However, his greatest achievement with Ireland was when he coached the team, captained by Ciaran Fitzgerald, to Triple Crown success in 1985.
He toured South Africa with the B&I Lions in 1962, and again as Captain in 1968. He served as Club representative on the Munster Branch; President 1977-78; IRFU committee 1980-2000; President 1988-89; International Rugby Football Board 1994-2000. He served as Cork Constitution President in their Centenary Year of 1991-92.
Tom is survived by his wife Maree, and family Cameron, Nicola, Lynn, Julie, James, and Tommy.
Inspired by the desire to honor the sad passing of a truly iconic rugby figure in Tom Kiernan, Cork Constitution and UCC, his two former clubs, have jointly decided to retire the No 15 jersey, worn with pride by Tommy throughout a magnificent career with both clubs, for the remainder of the season.
In its place, the respective full backs for Cork Constitution and UCC will take to the field with the number 54 on his jersey in recognition of the number of caps won by Tommy as a player and captain of Ireland.