In November 1978 at Limerick’s Thomond Park, a stunned crowd of 12,000 people watched lowly pro-am rugby union team Munster beat New Zealand’s All Blacks – the best team in the world at that time – by 12 point to zero. It was and remains one of the great sporting boilovers of the 20th century.

Like every Limerick lad of a certain age, John Breen remembers it clearly – even though he wasn’t at the game itself. He was only 12 at the time and out collecting bits of wood for a bonfire. But he recalls the sense of amazement and excitement that gripped the city in the wake of the shock result.

“It was an enormous event, not just for Limerick but for all of Ireland,” Breen tells Limelight. “For Munster to beat the All Blacks – local men beating what was the best team to have ever played the game – was incredible.”

Ensemble Theatre’s Alone It Stands. Image supplied

“You have to remember what a very different place Ireland was back then,” Breen adds. “It was grim, it was gloomy, there was high unemployment, a horrible sectarian war going on...