The Ger Siggins Column
Inside Edge: 27 June
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In a few short weeks an Irish side will walk out onto a green field in north Dublin, and change the course of history of cricket on this island. For after more than a century-and-a-half wandering around 27 venues, Ireland will have a ground it can call “home”.
The Malahide complex has been transformed into an ODI standard ground with room for more spectators than Ireland has managed to attract since WG Grace last visited College Park. The square was laid in autumn 2009, but the serious work began in July 2011 with the creation of a second ground in The Lady’s Acre. Other clubs are wary of hosting big events because they restrict members’ access, but this won’t be a problem at Malahide.
All through last winter the stadium took shape. A dry spring held up growth on the reseeded outfield and banks, but project leader Ian Talbot is confident it will be in tip-top condition by the time it comes to host its first big games during the South Africa A tour in August.
The playing area of 142 by 134 metres includes 4.5km of undersoil drainage which leads to a 30,000 litre tank for recycling when the ground needs watering. The bank between the grounds reaches to a height of nine feet and the whole arena will hold over 11,000 spectators with plenty of parking, Dart and train services at hand.
With Malahide now likely to host the bulk of Ireland’s fixtures, and probably all those in Leinster, Ireland bids farewell next week to the leading venue in Dublin for the past three decades.
Clontarf first hosted Ireland in 1964, and bows out next Tuesday and Thursday with the visit of Afghanistan. More than 70 internationals were staged there, including visits by West Indies, Australia, India, South Africa, Zimbabwe and England. It is where famous victories were secured over Middlesex and Surrey, and where Allan Border hit Angus Dunlop for 32 off an over. It served Irish cricket well and deserves its rest.
Tweet of the week: “@tjmurtagh: Thanks for all well wishes. Thought I was outstanding on debut today”. Tim Murtagh savours every moment of his first cap at Stormont. He’ll hope for better luck in Clontarf on Tuesday.
THERE was a rare treat for visitors to the Titanic exhibition in Belfast last week, when the Irish squad visited ahead of the RSA Challenge. Paul Stirling and manager Roy Torrens stood in for Kate and Leonardo on the bow of the ship and an emotional version of ‘My Heart Will Go On’.
A FRANTIC few weeks for some Irish players starts today with the refixed YMCA v The Hills LHW Cup game at Claremont Road. With the ODIs and I-Cup games against the Afghans, and the T20s against Bangladesh, the likes of Trent Johnston, Kevin O’Brien and Max Sorensen will be tested across all formats. And with their clubs battling in both major cup competitions, the players could see 13 days action in 17 days.
THE Cork Cricket Charity Sixes takes place on Saturday in aid of ISPCC. Rugby and GAA clubs are among participants on what is always a good day out at the Mardyke.