Drumaness and Dundrum's plight
Drumaness and Dundrum’s Plight
As the weather shows little sign of abating two village sides in Co. Down have been worse hit than most. For Drumaness they have only managed to get two league games completed so far. The village club have been around since the 1930’s and play in Section Two.
Their most recent success was in 1988 when they won the Junior Cup. When you talk about grass roots cricket for me Drumaness is the complete embodiment of such a concept. The club based in Drumaness village only have the one side and have a nucleus of around 15 to 18 players.
This week I have been chatting with club stalwart, Honorary Secretary and indeed the captain of that 1988 side Brendan Gelston:
“We rely completely on Down County Council when it comes to the preparing of the wicket. We are completely exposed to the elements and we have no covers and as you know there has been an extraordinary amount of rainfall in the area over the last month or so.
Quite simply we have unable to get the machinery on the ground to prepare a wicket. I have to say that the council have been extremely supportive and we have been playing on the pitch here in the village for the last 25 years.
There is an artificial that we can practice on but we cannot play our matches on it, most fixtures have been automatically rearranged for the fourth Sunday following the original and the guys are currently basing practice around the weather forecast.”
The club have a number of players who have played senior cricket, such as Neil Gelston and James Cunningham and face the perennial challenge that in the main the better younger players in the area will go to either Downpatrick or Saintfield, where undoubtedly the facilities are better, a fact that Brendan readily acknowledges.
However he does not see this as the only factor in encouraging more players to the club:
“Basically we do our own coaching so if anyone shows an interest we will work with them. I find the problem now is that young guys are not particularly interested in playing 50 over cricket and the prospect of being home at 9.30 or 10 pm does not appeal.
I think we need to look at maybe reducing it down to 40 overs. When I was younger you wanted to play cricket, now there are plenty other things they would rather be doing on a Saturday evening.”
Over at Dundrum the club faces the challenge that the ground is beside the river and we have seen in recent years pictures of the ground flooded up to the level of the roof of their score box and Jeff Maguire acknowledges that this is always going to be an issue:
“At the moment perhaps we get 4 good days and the ground dries out, but the water table is so high that all it takes is one day’s rain and we are back to square one. At the minute we will need to rely on the goodwill of other clubs to help us out, indeed I cannot tell you where we will play out home game against Cliftonville this Sunday”
Certainly I know that the club are looking at an extraordinary solution. Jeff told me that the club are exploring the possibility of registering the ground within Ballykinler camp:
“The camp has an artificial wicket which we have practised on, it is a sandy base across there and the drainage is excellent, I know the army would be only to keen to help the local community. It may require players to have security clearance to enter but it would certainly help us out at the minute.”
Just the sort of innovative thinking that the game needs right now with no end in sight to the current wet season, it remains to be seen how the Union will react to such a proposal.