Sport is an integral part of life in St. Columba’s with six days of compulsory sport for all pupils. Explore our games programme and facilities here.
The College believes the educational value of sport cannot be underestimated. At its most fundamental level it teaches us teamwork, fair play and responsibility to others. Through sport young people learn their strengths and weaknesses and how to challenge themselves. Participation should be a positive experience, not just to achieve personal and competitive success, but also to learn new skills, lead a healthy lifestyle, have fun, make friends and also learn many lessons that are very applicable to a life outside sport.
All pupils in St. Columba’s College are actively encouraged to make sport and physical activity a part of their daily lifestyle. Organised sport is available six days a week. Pupils make a daily choice of a physical activity that is governed by the team sport they are involved in. A wholesome education is achieved not only by the development of the intellect but also through the understanding and development of the ‘physical’ being. Games and sports are not solely about winning and losing but, rather, about trying to meet challenges, personal development and learning about oneself. Sport promotes values such as: inclusivity, teamwork, tolerance and solidarity, fair play and respect. St.Columba’s firmly believes in the enabling capability of this holistic approach to sport. Even those who are not natural sportspersons and athletes gain an ability to deal with pressure, to move on from disappointments, to make lifelong friendships whilst hopefully having a healthy dose of fun.
The splendid setting and ample grounds mean that pupils at St. Columba’s can benefit from a very wide-ranging allocation of sporting activity. Rugby, Hockey and Cricket, are the principal traditional team sports offered to boys, but participation in: Tennis, Athletics, Basketball Soccer and Cross-Country is also possible in the Senior School. Principal traditional team games for girls include: Hockey, Basketball and Cricket but participation in Athletics, Tennis and Cross-Country running is also possible.
Continued investment in facilities and resources ensure a high profile and a full range of activities will be offered to pupils in the coming years. Relatively recent developments have included new tennis courts, an extra AstroTurf hockey pitch, two artificial cricket mats, a remarked sports’ hall floor and a redesigned gym to facilitate our new bodyweight Athletic Gymnastic Conditioning programme.
Individuals can involve themselves in Golf, Badminton and Swimming. Archery, Riding and Polo Crosse are offered in the senior school as optional extras, once each pupil has fulfilled their individual requirement to play a traditional College team sport.
A modern Sports’ Hall that includes a fully equipped fitness suite can cater for a large variety of activities and programmes that enhance the physical well being of the individual. Specialised supervised classes include: Spin, Fit-Ball, Circuit, Step and High Intensity Interval Training, Dance Fitness and Suspension Training.
In the last three years we have supplemented and added to this by introducing an Athletic Gymnastics Conditioning (AGC) programme that puts St.Columba’s right at the forefront of the latest physical conditioning techniques. The focus of the Athletic Gymnastic Conditioning (AGC) programme is in providing the very best possible environment for our students to excel in health and physicality, which we know will have a very positive impact upon the others areas of the students’ lives. See below for more details.
The College is proud of its investment in coaching staff and sporting facilities. A long tradition of involvement in games by members of the College academic staff ensures that pupils have close contact and are nurtured in their chosen areas. Where specialist coaching is required every effort is made to avail of chosen experts in their field. Considering the comparatively small size by way of pupil numbers, considerable and acknowledged success has been achieved on the sports field across a wide spectrum. Sport and physical activity is a central part of the boarding life of pupils in St. Columba’s College.
The St. Columba’s College rugby teams have enjoyed some good success over the years, despite our small numbers, and it remains a popular sport amongst the pupils. All boys in the junior forms (Forms P, I, II & III) play rugby – training or competing every Monday, Thursday and Saturday and on alternate Wednesdays, during the Michaelmas and Hilary Terms. Our Form I boys, all members of the Tibradden house, play a series of friendly games over the season. When boys move into Form II they join up with Form III and train together to make the Junior Cup Team (JCT) and JCT Development squads. This gives a lot of Form II boys the chance to play cup rugby for two seasons. The JCT compete in two competitive leagues over the season, as well as the coveted cup campaign (and a potential shield). The JCT play in the Division 2A league and compete in the Duff Cup. In the Hilary Term, the JCT participate in the ‘Junior Seconds League’, competing with the second XV from top-tier schools. This year’s JCT and JCT Development panels are coached by Paul Cron.
Rugby is optional in the senior forms (although all boys must play either hockey or rugby). The first XV or SCT (Senior Cup Team) play in similar divisions to the junior boys. They compete in Division 2A in the first term and play in the McMullen cup. In March 2023 SCT successfully won the Ian McKinley Cup which was coached by Hein Havenga, Conor Anderson and Alex Lee.
Despite our small size of around 160 boys, St. Columba’s has a proud tradition of rugby and punches well above our weight. There has been league and cup success over the years but, more importantly than that, the boys leave St. Columba’s with the discipline, respect, team principles and work ethic that rugby provides.
Director of Rugby: Hein Havenga
Head of Girls’ Hockey: Grant Glutz
There are seven competitive girls’ league teams and one non-league team. The Senior Girls XI compete in the Leinster Senior League Division 1 (winners in 2016) or in the newly formed Senior 1 A League, which does not include the very top teams. The Second XI compete in Senior 3 and the Third XI compete in Senior 4. The non-competitive team, the Senior Development XI, play friendly matches throughout the year. The Junior A will compete in Leinster Junior 1 league while the Junior B Development Squad in Junior 4, Minor A in Minor 1 and First Years in First Year B League. Girls’ Hockey takes place three days a week on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Wednesdays are predominantly match days.
Head of Boys’ Hockey Mr. Scott Crombie:
There are five competitive boys’ teams one at each age group. Boys’ hockey training days are Tuesdays and Fridays and they also share alternate Wednesdays as match days with the rugby department.
St. Columba’s Hockey: A Brief Review
One of our most illustrious alumni, the late William Trevor Cox, wrote in his short story Leaving School, “It was, and still is, the only public school of its kind in the Republic of Ireland….famous for much but most of all for skill on the hockey field.”
St.Columba’s has a proud hockey tradition and despite the College’s small size has and currently punches well above its weight in Leinster. It has produced many senior international players over the years and numerous boys and girls are continuing to represent international and interprovincial sides across the various age groups. Boys’ hockey is run by Mr.Scott Crombie and the girls’ by Ms.Sarah-Jane Johnson. Despite our relatively small size the College is one of the very few Irish schools to have two artificial pitches on its grounds.
Boys’ hockey has been played in the College since 1890, however it really only established itself fully in 1937. It was initially only played by junior boys so it did not dilute the senior rugby XV. In October 1974 the first ever team to represent St.Columba’s in any girls’ sport was a hockey team, then amusingly referred to as ‘Wagons Hokkey’ (that is not a misspelling). Both boys’ and girls’ hockey are now classified as major college traditional team sports.
The golden years of boys’ and girls’ college competitive hockey runs from 1979 to 1994. Numerous Senior, Junior and ‘Leps’ finals were reached and many won. It would be impossible to list them all but a slice taken from 1980 to 1994 gives an indication of how successful, even dominant, boys’ and girls’ hockey was in Leinster and Irish circles. In 1980 the Senior XI won the Leinster Cup and the Pembroke tournament (the precursor to the All Ireland Schools’ Tournament that runs today), making the College unofficial Irish champions. The side also distinguished itself in the Oxford Public Schools’ Festival beating Merchant Taylors, Felsted and Cranbrook. In 1983 the Senior XI won the league but lost their first cup match, this being the first match the Senior XI had lost in three years.
In 1984 the Senior Girls’ XI won the Leinster Senior Cup and the Kate Russell All-Ireland Trophy. In 1993 they regained the Leinster Cup, an outstanding achievement by an exceptional team.
By 2007 participation by boys and girls in hockey as a major team sport was strongly embedded. However it has been difficult to maintain earlier standards consistently. In other schools increasing involvement in club hockey could not be matched in a school where Saturday lessons are compulsory, as in our full time boarding school. This has been exacerbated by the the demise of our feeder prep schools who played the same sports we do. Therefore much of our pupil intake were more increasingly complete beginners. This necessitated a reappraisal of approach in some lean years in the 2000s. More external expert coaching resources were put into younger age groups and teams were entered into B Leagues, as confidence building training grounds. Although well planned this approach had to be a patient one.
For the boys the breakthrough came in 2011/12. The Senior boys’ team qualified for the All-Ireland Schools Tournament in 2011 and 2012, winning the Senior Leinster Trophy in 2012 and 2014. They came third in the Senior A League in 2011, winning it in 2012. The College has since qualified for five of the last six All Ireland Championships, showing that the hard work and patience are paying off and that the College is competing again at the top of Irish schools’ hockey.
The girls’ won the Senior One League in 2011 and 2016, formidable achievements for a small hockey school who introduces hockey to most and only occasionally picks up useful German or Spanish players to supplement local players in the fourth and fifth forms. The current Junior A side competed in, but lost in their League final in 2017. Sophia Cole has represented the Irish under 16 side for the last two years and is certainly a player with plenty of future potential at the top level.
In the season gone by, the Senior Boys’ XI got to the final of the Senior B League, narrowly losing to Wesley. Three College players represented the Three Rock Rovers Senior indoor club team which won the Irish Championship and will represent Ireland in the European Club Championships hosted by Georgia in February 2018. In addition three Old Columbans were involved in the Three Rock Mens’ First XI that won the Irish Hockey League and will be competing against the top sixteen European clubs in Rotterdam next April: Niall Dendam as coach, Ross Canning and Harry Morris as players. Freddie Morris has recently been selected to play for the Irish under 21s in the upcoming A division European Championships. As mentioned earlier Sophia Cole has represented Ireland at under 16 level for two consecutive seasons It is clear that the current hockey programme in the College enables players to play at a top level, whilst also directing boys and girls of all abilities to appreciate the team nature of the sport and most importantly to enjoy and understand the game, to give of their best and to carry that way beyond the span of their school days.
The basketball program prides itself in commitment to excellence through participation and fun. The past decade has seen a huge impetus in the development of the sport within the college. Numerous league titles and runner-up placings across all age groups serves as a solid indicator of the effort, enthusiasm and motivation of our players and coaching staff.
Our boys’ team compete at U19 level, participating in two leagues and the National Cup. Development of the sport is ongoing and they have achieved considerable success over the years.
The eight girls’ teams compete in the National Cup, Post Primary School League (PPSC) and the more local South Dublin League (SDBL). We enter teams at all age groups – U19/U16/2nd year/1st Year.
Our Coaching staff brings a wealth of knowledge to the program with experience at both national and international level, focusing on skill development through structured and fun sessions.
Over the year we run a number of non-league events including the annual Christmas blitz, Staff v Seniors and the Inter House Challenge. More detailed information on teams, training schedules, league results and photo gallery can be found on their dedicated basketball blog (columbasbasketball.weebly.com).
Master in Charge: Ms. Karen Hennessey
Cricket is one of the major traditional summer term sports for both boys and girls. We currently have six competitive boys and five girls teams which play in Leinster leagues. The season is short but intense.
Facilities have vastly improved in the last twenty years: we now have the capacity for a five bay indoor net facility in the new Sports Hall. In 2004 a new four-bay net cage was built alongside the senior pitch. As well as the grass wicket on the Senior square, there are an additional three artificial wickets.
Cricket has always been a major College sport and records show that it was played from the foundation of the College in Stackallan. There is a record of an informal match in 1844 and it was likely that such a match was played in 1843.
St. Columba’s can claim to have the longest tradition of proper cricket at any Irish school. It is possible that cricket was played at Clongowes, but it remained a purely domestic affair there until 1859 whereas St. Columba’s had established cricket on a more formal footing from 1849. A photograph of the Cricket XI in 1860 is one of the earliest team photographs in Ireland.
For many Old Columbans, and others, the cricket pavilion (the second oldest in Ireland and arguably the oldest unchanged one) evokes great feelings of nostalgia. The boards on the walls and ceiling record the names of those playing for the First XI from 1857. Some great names and cricketing families of this early era from 1857 are etched on the walls of the pavilion and catch the eye. Various Hones, the Gywnns, W.R.L. Bourchier, H.M. Read, R.M.T.G. McVeagh, J.B. Ganly, C.S.Marriott (who represented England as a test player and was arguably the best leg spinner in England between the wars).
2010 marked the culmination of a three year long ‘Pavilion Appeal’. The result was preservation of a piece of special and unique Columban sporting history and also a building which has a significant architectural place in our national heritage. It had been in danger of becoming derelict, unused and a fading memory. However it has been refurbished without losing any of its character and there is now space for team names on boards until 2062. So the pavilion will continue to evoke those elusive memories and those names will continue to echo from days gone by. Ger Siggins of The Sunday Tribune wrote “the old pavilion at St. Columba’s College is one of the most atmospheric buildings in the land. The beautiful setting and the long list of school cricketers takes one back to another time.”
In 1941 in the C.U.S. match the College set up an unbeaten record total for Schools’ Cup cricket in Ireland, since the Great War, with a score of four hundred and forty nine runs for eight wickets declared.
1976 marked the last final won by the College 1st XI, although they have come agonisingly close since.
In terms of raw results and trophies garnered, the Senior teams of the last twenty seven years have not managed to emulate the 1976 league cup winning team; however they have contested and lost two finals in 2000 and in 2010. The Second XI won their league cup in 1997, 2000 and 2007. The Junior team has been the most successful of our sides in the last twenty years winning a hat-trick of league cups in 1998 and 1999 (undefeated in those seasons), and 2000; and going on to win the trophy again in 2004 and 2008.
In the last twenty years numerous pupils have represented Leinster at various age groups, the Leinster Development team and the Southern Schools. Arguably our most significant representative honours have fallen on Robin Russell who represented the Irish Under-15 side that won the European Cup in Holland 2007. Patrick Ussher represented the French Under-17 team in 2012. Patrick Tice represented the Irish Under-19 side in the 2012 World Cup in Australia in a group that included Australia and England. He captained the Cambridge side playing in the “Colours Match” at Lord’s in 2017.
If anyone intends visiting the College and would like a look around please send Liam Canning a message at firstname.lastname@example.org and he will gladly open up the pavilion for a look around.
The College has a long tradition of playing tennis with the ‘Warden and Masters’ grass court in front of Whitehall dating from the 19th century. While it is not currently in playing condition there are six other courts (4 ‘astro’ and 2 hard courts) available for play. Tennis is mainly a sport of the Trinity term but lately we have offered a tennis option up to the Michaelmas half-term on Saturdays for senior pupils as part of the Games Programme; after this the weather can’t be trusted…
Both Girls and Boys teams are entered annually in the schools competitions and the Beresford and Deerpark Cups are competed for each summer in boys and girls championship singles respectively.
Coming soon …
The College is very proud of our on-campus, excellent and challenging nine-hole golf course. The course is home to Kilmashogue Golf Club, with over 350 members, but the pupils have priority times on the course each afternoon. For more information on golf at St. Columba’s click here.
Archery is practised at St. Columba’s at the highest level: we have had pupils representing Ireland abroad and have been privileged enough to host several national competitions here on our excellent grounds.
Archery takes place all year round – indoor during the Michaelmas and Hilary Terms and outdoor in the Trinity Term. It is run by a small, dedicated team of pupils from across all Forms. Full equipment is provided.
Archery instils an individual with focus, patience, determination and concentration. These are all attributes that we as a College believe benefit an individual’s overall development greatly.
Master in Charge of Archery: Mde de Frein
Polocrosse in St Columba’s has a small, but skilled and enthusiastic team. It is played in Carrickmines Equestrian Centre twice a week, where the pupils are taken by a school bus. The team plays friendly matches with other schools and some past pupils have played in the Irish Nationals.
Polocrosse can be chosen as a second team sport in the senior cycle, i.e. from 4th form up. To play polocrosse the pupils need to have some riding experience, but there is also the opportunity for beginners and improvers to take horse-riding lessons.
Polocrosse is the fastest-growing equestrian sport in Ireland. It is a combination of polo and lacrosse, played outdoors with a soft rubber ball and a polocrosseracquet. The racquet is a cane stick with a loose net at the head. The ball is caught, picked up and carried in the racquet, the objective being to score by throwing the ball into the opponents goal. Polocrosse originated in Australia and is now played internationally. Pupils who like horses and team sports generally find this sport a hugely enjoyable pursuit.
AGC, or Athletic Gymnastic Conditioning, is a core programme caters to athletes and non-athletes alike within the senior school. Our core belief is that physical health precedes sporting performance, and so within our AGC sessions we jump, pull, push, squat, lunge, row, hang and run, using all sorts of angles and rotations, and at varying speeds. We use our bodyweight as resistance and work to strengthen and mobilise all of the joints of the body. This in order to both reduce the likelihood of the pupil getting injured in their sporting endeavours, and also to allow them to have a most enjoyable experience in all that they do at St Columba’s College and beyond.
See the latest sports news from the College.