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Junior Branch Report 2008
REPORT OF THE HONORARY SECRETARY OF THE JUNIOR BRANCH OF THE LEINSTER CRICKET UNION FOR 2008
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As usual I begin on a sad note marking the passing of some people who contributed much to cricket in Leinster. In July, cricket not just in Leinster but in all parts of Ireland, suffered a major blow with the sudden illness and passing of John Wright. A former president of both the Leinster and Irish Cricket Unions, John had for ten years been secretary of the then Irish Cricket Union. The fact that Irish cricket developed in no small measure internationally over those years was largely due to John’s work on its behalf both formally and informally in the game’s corridors of power. He will be sorely missed at every level not least in the Malahide club. Two other stalwarts also departed. Gerry Lyons and Donny Thompson both served their respective clubs Leinster and YMCA as popular players for many years. When they retired from playing, they continued as members of the umpiring fraternity and were much appreciated in that capacity. Gerry also served the union as Chairman of the LCU Grounds Committee over several years.
To their families, their clubs and indeed to all families and clubs who lost members of during the year, I offer condolences and sympathies on behalf of the Union.
Playing Conditions 2008
Weatherwise we thought that 2007 could not be repeated but many would say that 2008 was worse. In some ways it was, since August, when most competitions reach their final stages, was the most badly affected month of the summer. Although some of the early cup rounds had been hit, matters were more or less back on track by early August. The bank holiday weekend was fine and two junior cup finals were completed without difficulty. Thereafter the problems commenced. No other final could be played on its scheduled date and one was postponed three times, being eventually played on a school ground on 13th September, ironically one of the finest days of the season. In all these cases sanction had to be given to reduce the scheduled number of overs from those specified by the regulations. This should give food for thought as to the length of such matches in future. I must again pay tribute to the co-operation of the host clubs and the participants which ensured that the competitions were completed
Although some clubs were hit badly, the league situation was not as bad as in 2007. Enough matches were played to be able to compile end of season league tables which did not require regulatory adjustment as had happened last year.
The Junior Branch Committee met eight times during the year with Cecil Medcalf as chairman. Attendances were as follows:
P.Byrne 4 J.Gallagher 3 G.Murphy 8 S.Clinton 7 P.Geoffroy 7 P.O’Neill 5
R.Fleming 7 B.Horn 6 J.Pryor 7
J.Forrest 6 C.Medcalf 8 M.Sharp 8
It has to be realised that some committee members miss meetings unavoidably due to playing commitments.
The first committee meeting concentrated on regulations for the 2008 season. Very little desire for change had been expressed by clubs over the year or at the AGM.
The Umpires and Scorers Association had requested that a specific provision be put into the regulations for late starts caused by reasons other than weather. This was agreed. Some administrative changes relating to protests were inserted. It was also agreed to highlight the issue of availability of first aid material in clubs.
Much of the committee business during the season concerned routine issues of starring lists, result cards and claims for walkovers. Once again return of results was patchy and some penalties had to be applied. Of particular concern were major breaches of the starring regulations by two clubs which resulted in serious penalties. It must again be emphasised that league starring lists should contain only those players currently available on a regular basis. Any player who is not available for several weeks should not remain in a list over that time.
A difficulty was created by the decision of the LCU Executive to permit a club to withdraw its second eleven from competition while retaining what had been a third eleven at a much lower standard. While acknowledging that this arose in an unusual situation, it did cause difficulties and is not recommended in any future situation.
The committee noted that the practice of hiring a player who would be defined as a professional under the regulations had now occurred in junior cricket. It was felt that a similar approach to that adopted by the Senior Competitions Committee, whereby the record of such a player has to be approved before registration can be approved may have to be introduced.
Considerable concern arose at the increasing number of instances of indiscipline being reported as having arisen in junior matches The LCU Disciplinary Committee had occasion to write to us expressing their concerns at these developments. It would appear that appealing to clubs on the matter has not worked and a more stringent line will have to be taken. Possible approaches have been discussed by our committee and the executive and the subject is on the agenda during general business at this AGM. It would obviously help if club members were more ready to volunteer their services as umpires but it would appear that we are reaching the stage where relying solely on voluntary co-operation is not enough.
I would also point out, not for the first time, that it is also beneficial to clubs to develop an interest in scoring among their members and not to see it simply as a chore to be done in a haphazard way. Some regulations and points structures depend on accurate scorekeeping.
Another matter on the agenda is league structures. This has been discussed at some length by the committee. While the increasing number of teams is welcome, it also causes problems and it seems pointless to continue having leagues of a size such that inevitably many fixtures never get played. Also it is clearly necessary to find a way of ensuring that cup matches affected by weather are resolved without major disruption of the league programme. It has been decided that a substantial restructuring should take place at the end of the 2009 season. This will see league size reduced to eight or, at most, nine teams. This will inevitably involve the creation of one or more new
leagues. Structures for 2010 will depend on finishing league positions in 2009 and thus the normal promotion and relegation will not necessarily apply. I understand that there may also be some proposed changes in what is currently termed senior cricket. I have long been an advocate of a serious overall reappraisal of the whole situation. It has seemed to me for some time that the terms senior and junior as applied to clubs and league structures are long outdated and some serious thought needs to go into how we organise all our competitions.
The game continues to grow with extra teams appearing. Clontarf will field a sixth eleven in cup and league next year and Ballaghadereen, with a successful record in Midland competition, will compete in the Middle 2 Cup. Evening Herald Taverners have entered the Minor Cup and both myself and the Development Officer continue to get enquiries from workplace or area based teams who are keen to develop to competitive standards in terms of structure and facilities.
Review of the Season
Congratulations are extended to the various league and cup winners as follows.
Senior 2 Merrion 2 Clontarf 2
Senior 3 Leinster 2
Middle A North Kildare Old Belvedere 2
Middle B YMCA 2
Middle 2 Sandyford
Intermediate A Laois 2 Pembroke 4 Intermediate B Sandyford 2
Junior A The Hills 4 Pembroke 5
Junior B Sandyford 3
Junior C The Hills 5
Minor Cup Laois 3
Tillain Cup Leinster 2
YMCA Salver The Hills 3
Whelan Cup Sandyford 2
Merrion 2 retained the Senior 2 league. Having never won it in the twentieth century, they now have four titles in seven years. Clontarf 2 won the cup in an extraordinary season for them. They did not win a match in April or May and were bottom of the league by some distance. From early June on they were unbeaten in cup or league. Old Belvedere’s win in the Middle Cup was the first cup win by the club since 1995 and YMCA 2nds ended the descent that had brought them as low as Middle B.. The most exciting match was without doubt the Tillain Cup final. Leinster 2nds needed six off the last ball of the match and got them with a clean hit to the boundary by a player who was not a regular but had been summoned as a last minute replacement. The Hills showed their strength at junior level in winning two leagues and a cup but probably the story of the season rests with Sandyford. As the club enters its twenty fifth year of existence they finally shed the hoodoo that has affected them in cup competitions. They won two, Whelan and Middle 2 and also took two league titles. They were undoubtedly the most successful club in junior cricket in 2008.
Because of the weather, the Junior Branch Committee had decided to reduce the qualification limits for the individual Senior 2 trophies. We need not have bothered. The top qualifiers in each case exceeded the usual marks. Thus, Damien Ryan of Malahide, Greg Lambert of Railway Union and Andy Cullen of Clontarf were worthy winners of the Bookman (batting), Oulton (bowling) and Webster (all-rounder) trophies respectively. Greg became the first bowler to retain the Oulton Cup since Liam Rooney of the then Man-o-War club in 1983 and ’84.
The number of scores of one hundred or more was 43, four less than in 2007, probably not statistically significant especially given the weather. Bowling performances remained much as last year. Only two bowlers took 8 wickets in an innings. The top individual performances occurred in the same match. In a Middle B league match on the August bank holiday an understrength Old Belvedere 3rds were overwhelmed by the all powerful YMCA 2nds. Stuart McCready helped himself to 207 runs and U.Jehangir conceded only 16 runs for his 8 wickets.
As usual, there are many people to thank.
With the weather the way it was, extreme difficulties befell clubs in getting matches played not least those who hosted cup finals or at least tried to, since two had eventually be moved to other venues. Even though completion required that artificial surfaces had to be used in some cases, groundsmen are to be congratulated that we got to play at all. The uncertainty also put pressure on those responsible for catering but everything ran smoothly on the various days.
The Clontarf club, through their President Brian O’Sullivan and Hon. Secretary Stella Downes, deserve our thanks for providing us with facilities for committee meetings and this AGM
The long suffering Appointments Secretary of the Leinster Cricket Umpires’ and Scorers’ Association., Kevin Gallagher, in another difficult season for him, did various “loaves and fishes jobs” and covered as many junior matches as humanly possible. Given the disciplinary situation outlined above this is to be particularly welcomed. The current President of that Association, Peter Thew, has a keen interest in junior cricket and provides useful comments and feedback on the application of the regulations in practice.
LCU PRO Fergus Carroll ensures that we get as much publicity as we can reasonably expect for junior cricket while Emmett Riordan of the Irish Times and Ger Siggins of the Sunday Tribune maintain an interest in what is happening. Cricket Europe (John Elder) continues to provide web services to the union and provides as up to date league tables as are possible. People seem to forget that he depends on me to send them and I depend on the clubs to send me results.
My thanks are due to the other members of the Junior Branch Committee, especially our chairman Cecil Medcalf who give me excellent support and co-operation. LCU President Arthur Vincent goes out of office having been most attentive to his duties relating to junior cricket. He takes up the mantle of President of Cricket Ireland which I am sure he will wear well and he will one hopes enjoy better weather in his term of office there.
I am in regular contact with the Honorary Secretary of the Union and we manage to agree eventually on matters to do with cricket. My thanks to Mary as always. Jimmy Joyce stood down as LCU Honorary Treasurer a year ago, although you would never think so. He and the other members of the Executive are always on hand when needed.
In my 2007 report I expressed the hope that it would be a long time before we saw another season as bad in terms of weather. If ever a hope was dashed, that was it. Still we got through it successfully but again with a lot of work by a lot of people. My sincere thanks to them all.
Junior Branch LCU