Cricket Ireland Cricket Operations Director, Mark Garaway, today praised the efforts of the cricket players and administrators in the west for their tireless working in getting the Connacht Cricket Union off the ground.

The setting up of the Connacht Cricket Union is remarkable given cricket is not a sport one would usually associate with the west of Ireland. However, for the last number of years the game has thrived in the Connacht area to such an extent that calls for a governing body for the region were answered and on the 29th of October, the first Connacht Cricket Union was formed..

Garaway admitted since initial inquiries were made by Sligo Cricket Club about possible coaching and development guidance from Cricket Ireland, he was amazed at the passion of cricketers from Connacht and the speed in which they have got to this stage.

Speaking to the Munster Cricket Blog, Garaway said: “It all started off by word of mouth. We got a tip off from Sligo that there was a lot of cricket happening in the area and they were looking for some help with coach development.

“Myself, Tim Simmonite and Stephen Moreton went on a tour in February to see what was going on, and we found that there were six or seven clubs active. Then in the summer myself, David Williams (CI Chairman) and Joe Doherty (CI Cricket Chairman) attended a meeting in Galway where up to ten clubs were represented.

“There are a number of really dedicated guys there and what’s next is it needs to become sustainable.”

While optimistic about the future for Connacht cricket, Garaway insisted that there is a long road ahead to get up to the level of the other Irish unions.

“The priority now is getting people on board and supported in their development. The first thing is it needs to become sustainable and there is a need for structure.

“We (Cricket Ireland) now have a mixture of knowledgeable volunteers and Professional Staff who can guide and help Connacht Cricket Union develop rapidly. Coach Education and Youth Development being two of the cornerstones of development in the area. Stephen Moreton (Coach Education) has already started working with Nitin Bindal and Joe Doherty has been advising the new Union with their governance and constitution.”

There are currently three grounds in use in the Connacht region and Garaway indicated that a fourth will be required, however, that is not on the immediate agenda and while he admits putting timescales on the development of the union would be “rash”, he envisages that one day Connacht will go from strength to strength.

Jody Morgan of the Ballaghedereen Club becomes the first President of the Connacht Cricket Union, while fellow club man, Waqqas Ali Raja, takes on the role of Chairman.