Former Irish cricketer and Munster rugby player Jim Kiernan has died following a short illness.
Former Irish cricketer and Munster rugby player Jim Kiernan has died following a short illness. Kiernan was a brother of former Irish and Lions rugby captain Tom Kiernan and father of Irish and Lions centre Michael.
Jim Kiernan was a reliable opening batsman, who, as Noel Mahony and Noel Cantwell did not play full seasons in Munster Cricket, was probably the best, in that position, in the province for much of his career.
Also a useful off spinner, he would surely have added to his solitary Irish cap, had he appeared regularly in areas more open to selectorial visibility , than The Mardyke.
Having previously played for Bohemians, he made his Cork County debut in 1950 v the touring Oxford University Authentics, which included future long term Derbyshire, and one Test England, captain Donald Carr, who was also to become a leading administrator, being Secretary of the TCCB, fore runner of the ECB, for many years. By a coincidence, his brother Douglas was in the opposition, when Jim made his Irish debut. 1951 was Jim's breakthrough year. In all matches, in the somewhat limited Munster programme, he scored 990 runs, just missing out on the coveted four figures, when he was dismissed for 39 in the last match of the season, against the Irish Army side Southern Command, making their first appearance at The Mardyke. Amongst their number was future General Vincent (Vinny) Savino, a stalwart of Clontarf cricket for many seasons. It may have been some consolation to Jim that he had made the highest score of the match; certainly he appreciated the award of the Sir George Colthurst bat for "his excellent performances throughout the season." He had formed a good opening partnership with Connie Oldum which resulted in several century stands, including 135 v Dublin visitors, Merrion.
He began the 1952 season late because of a rugby injury, but was selected for the Irish Trial, which, that year was an Ireland v The Rest fixture rather than North v South. Unfortunately, Jim, who would have opened for The Rest, had to cry off. In a period of rather weak Irish batting, he might have been able to gain a place in the side.
Consistent performances for Bohemians, Cork County and Munster, eventually gained him selection for Ireland v Free Foresters at Rathmines in September 1957. The match was at Rathmines in cold, gloomy weather. The FF, consisting largely of British Army officers, were very weak with only one player of first class standard, their captain and opening bowler JHG Deighton, who appeared with success for Lancashire and Gentlemen v Players, when military duties allowed. Ireland made 371-6 declared on the first day. Ray Hunter, also on debut, stole the show with 74*. Jim was really on a hiding to nothing. It was the last match of the season so he had to impress to remain in contention. He made a stylish 22 at No 7, but it was not enough to keep him in the side. The first six batsmen all passed 40. He was dismissed by pace bowler JA Wolfe-Murray, whose principal claim to fame was that he became the son-in-law of Sir Alec Douglas-Home, one time occasional Middlesex fast bowler, and latterly British Prime Minister. Wolfe-Murray had a first class career of 3 matches which brought him 3 wickets for 155!
In 1962 Jim captained the South v North in the annual trial, but by this time the fixture, and the Interprovincials, were becoming rather discredited, as players tended to cry off and still be chosen for Ireland. This was one of the reasons for the introduction of the Guinness Cup in 1966. Unfortunately this came too late in Jim's career to showcase his talents. He played in 12 matches in the early years, but was past his best, scoring only 205 runs at 12.05, though he did have a highest score of 75. He was also a fine Rugby player, being a highly regarded full back for the Cork club, Dolphin for many seasons. However he was denied many representative honours, gaining only five Munster caps firstly because of the presence of Ray Hennesy, a tall rangy full back from Cork Constitution, whom many saw as future Irish player. Then both Jim and Ray had to take a back seat as Jim's younger brother Tom came on the scene. Jim was, however, both a Munster and Irish selector. Once Tom was established in a red or green jersey at 15, only selectorial lunacy or, eventually, Father Time, could displace him. He was, incidentally, also a very good batsman, who scored heavily for Cork County, making a century after stepping off a plane from his successful captaincy of the Lions tour of South Africa in 1968.
Jim did, however, have the pleasure of seeing his own son Michael, win 43 Irish caps as a goal kicking centre, playing a leading part in Ireland's Triple Crown and Five Nations wins of 1982 and 1985, as well as touring New Zealand with the Lions.