George Morgan, still remembered by Irish rugby followers as one of the greatest scrum halves to have pulled on the green jersey, was also a distinctly useful cricketer, though his international performance in the summer game failed to match that of those of the winter one.
George learned his cricket - and rugby - at Belvedere College, which, when he was in his early years there had nurtured two remarkable cricketers, Jimmy Boucher and Eddie Ingram. Had George needed inspiration to shine on the cricket field, they would have provided it, but, in cricket as in other sports, he was his own motivator.
Living all his life in Clontarf, he was involved with the Castle Avenue side from the late 1920s, gaining a First XI place in 1930, which he was not to relinquish until 1942. His batting was consistent, rather than heavy scoring and spectacular, but it brought him 2360 runs at 18.73 with two hundreds and seven fifties. He also held 53 catches, a number of which were taken in the slips. His hundreds were the second and third hit by a Clontarf player in Leinster competitive cricket and were both undefeated, 104* v Civil Service in 1932 and 101*, also at home against Merrion in 1939. The first hundred had been scored by Herbert Aston v Leinster in 1924. Herbert, captain of the club that season, was a good batsman, who appeared for Rangoon Gymkhana and Burma against Arthur Gilligan's MCC side in 1926/27. He was brother of Irish cricketer JG Aston.
George's innings against Service was described by the Club's Centenary History (1976) as "magnificent." He came in with the score at 29-3, added 168 for the 4th wicket with opener George Tyndall, seeing the score to a healthy 222. He might well have made many more runs for Clontarf according to one contemporary critic, but, "He appears to be too anxious to score in the early part of his innings and does not seem to realise the value of getting set before he begins to hit." The 101* v Merrion came out of a total of 230 all out. George was three times captain of Clontarf in 1933, 34 and 36. The Club's History says that he was one of the few consistent batsmen of the 1930s. When his senior cricket was well over he played for the Royal Bank of Ireland XI v Bank of Ireland in the Banks' Cup Final, and, showing all his batting skills, made 150 out of 238, the next highest score being 21.
His one appearance for Ireland was, unfortunately, completely unsuccessful. This was against MCC at Sion Mills, the first Irish match staged in the North West. It is a game best remembered for the debut century of Lisburn opener Sammy Edgar, but the wicket was too good, and the weather - on the second day - too unreliable to allow a result. George did not get a bat in the first innings as James Macdonald declared in an effort to get something out of a two day match. He - George - may well have wished that he gad not gone to the crease in the second knock either.
Ireland staged a mini collapse, when a draw seemed inevitable, George being one of the four wickets that fell in a flurry. He was stumped off the fast medium bowling of all rounder Reggie Butterworth, "without troubling the scorers." Reggie was to be killed in action in France six years later during the retreat to Dunkirk. George went back to Clontarf and, of course, to rugby.
A brilliant schools rugby player at Belvedere, taking them to an unsuccessful cup final against every other Dublin school's rugby nemesis - Blackrock College, he also played for Leinster Schools and had no trouble in getting a regular place in the Clontarf side on leaving school in 1930. He later joined Old Belvedere when they achieved senior status. In 1934 he gained his place on the Irish XV, having an unbroken run of 19 caps until was broke out. He was known for his defence splitting runs from the base of the scrum, often culminating in a reverse pass, his trademark. He scored a wonderful debut try v England at Lansdowne Road and greatly impressed Jack Manchester's 1935 All Blacks, who thought him one of the outstanding players they met on tour. He captained Ireland six times, his reign being ended by war. He did briefly cede the captaincy to Instonians prop Sammy Walker in 1938, then touring South Africa under Sammy's captaincy later in the year. The Welsh scrum half Haydn Tanner, kept him out of the Test side for the first two matches, but was injured in the hotel on the morning of the third. George played and made an injury time try for Welsh winger Cliff Jones. With another of Irish cricket's "one cap wonders", pace bowling flanker Bob Alexander having also scored a try, the Lions had their only Test win of the tour. The South Africans carried Sammy Walker off the field shoulder high.
Away from sport and banking George married Kay Conroy, herself a fine swimmer and hockey player with a Leinster Senior Cup medal to her credit, in 1938. They had five children. In retirement from cricket and rugby George took to golf, making a success of this also by getting his handicap down to 9. It was while playing at The Royal Dublin that this popular and highly respected man suffered the heart attack from which he died a few weeks later.
His - very brief - obituary is in Wisden 1981