Spotlight on John Mooney
John Francis Mooney
John Mooney - variously Jon Boy or Mooners to team-mates - is the sort of cricketer every right thinking captain or selector would want to have in his side. Younger brother of Paul and nephew of Fingal legend Kit he is an all-rounder of high quality and tremendous determination. " A cricketer, " said the Irish Cricket Annual in 2006, " who always gives 100%"
A middle order left hander, who can however bat anywhere that the needs of the side demand, he is probably at his best when taking the attack to the opposition bowlers, but he is well able to play the other game if the situation demands. His medium pace bowling is usually employed as a first or second change option but he has often opened the attack for club and country without any diminution of standard.
He first appeared on the international scene in 1999 when he appeared for both the U17 and U19 Irish teams. It was for the former that he played the first of his memorable innings for his country, against Denmark at Deventer in the European Championships. Ireland batted first and reached a formidable 325-8 from their 50 overs. Utterly dominant, John made a superb 148 putting on 198 for the first wicket with Imran Masood, son of Alf, which demoralised the Danish attack. He then finished the job with figures of 8-1-20-4.
This performance ensured his selection for the U19 side in the 1999/2000 World Cup. Against Sri Lanka he made 34 second top score to Ryan Haire's 39, the two left handers ensuring that Ireland's score had some sort of respectability by adding 67 for the 6th wicket, having come together at 27-5. The match was lost by 9 wickets. John also showed his bowling ability against Australia with figures of 7-1-25-3, but the match was lost by 85 runs.
Playing for the U19s the following season when the European Championships were held at Oundle School in England's East Midlands, he made 45 at No 5 - before being stumped by Freddie Klokker who was later on the Derbyshire staff - he then held 4 catches helping Ireland to an 80 runs win. He also made an essential 32 in a narrow win over The Netherlands. He signed off cricket at this level by captaining the side the following season.
His deeds for North County have, of course, been always consistent and frequently remarkable. Currently (2012) in Leinster Senior Cricket, he has scored 4496 runs at 25.40 with 3 hundreds and 22 fifties. His first century did not come until 2009, but he had already had two near misses, falling for 91 against Dublin University in the League in 2004 as North County posted an unbeatable 383-4 off 50 overs.
Two seasons later he fell just short of the three figure mark again, hitting 90 against Phoenix, putting on 115 for the 3rd wicket with Andre Botha. North County totalled 298-4, eventually winning the match on run rate.
The first of his three centuries came in the Cup Quarter Final against Malahide at The Inch in 2009, when he was clearly Man of the Match. Coming in at 51-3 he made a typically belligerent 102 as the Balrothery side totalled 281. He then set the seal on an outstanding day's achievement by taking 5-21.
His other two hundreds both came in 2011. He began his season with a blistering 81 against Phoenix, including twelve 4s and two 6s. Then at home in a local derby with The Hills he came in at 27-2, North County having been put in, and promptly added 211 with Conor Armstrong (79). He was eventually stumped off Mark Dwyer for 120, which was made off 92 balls with twelve 4s and seven 6s. The match was won by 117 runs.
As if such a dominant innings was not enough he went on to play an even more impressive one against YMCA at Claremont Road. Here he again played the leading role in his team's victory with a magisterial 102* from 50 balls, including ten 4s and six 6s. He then proceeded to take 2-13 and hold a catch.
Among his notable bowling achievements at this level, we may pick out two. Thus in 2004 against Railway Union, having failed with the bat contributing a single to a score of 199, he returned figures of 8.3-2-19-6 to bring about a Fingal victory by 109 runs. Two seasons later saw his best season with the ball in Leinster Cricket, gaining him the O'Grady Cup with 35 wickets at 14.20. HIs best figures, 9.3-1-24-6, came against Malahide in a match won by 9 wickets.
He has also had several noteworthy performances in the Irish Senior Cup where he has been a key figure in North County proving one of the competition's successful teams. Thus in 2005 he played a crucial innings against Waringstown at the latter's fortress of The Lawn. The hosts posted 190 a useful, but by no means, winning score. They then removed the top three in the visitors' order before a double figure total had been reached. However John joined his brother Paul and no further wickets fell. Paul finished on 75 and John on 72 as a seven wickets victory was achieved.
John also had unbeaten half centuries against North Down at The Green, where he spent most of his innings watching Eoin Morgan (142*) destroy the Comber attack, and in the Final against Railway Union when his undefeated 57, brought his side a 5 wickets victory over Railway Union and him the Man of the Match award.
In a first round match with Ballymena in 2011 he destroyed the Co Antrim side's attack, leaving them no chance of an unlikely victory after they had been put out for 76. John faced only 18 balls, hitting seven for 4 and one for 6 as North County won by 7 wickets. In a first round match last (2012) season, he came in at 4-4 after Creevdonnell had totalled 159. He made 78* off 118 balls, hitting only three 4s, but compensating with seven 6s.
Interprovincial cricket was - fortunately not permanently - on its way out as John broke through into the big time but he has still some notable performances to his credit. Several have come against the North West. In 2000 the Mooney brothers rescued Leinster from probable defeat in a match against North West at Castle Avenue in a game in which rain had the last word.
The visitors made 202; their score restricted by Paul's 5-36, and then reduced their hosts to 83-5. Then John (57*) and Paul (34*) added 101 before the weather intervened. Three years later at Beechgrove North Leinster reached 218 all out but any prospect of a home win was ended by John who took 5-19 in 5.3 overs, thus bringing about a 131 runs victory.
The following season at Limavady North West must again have felt victory was theirs for the taking when, having been dismissed for 170, they had North Leinster 2-2 before John came to the wicket. Together with Barry Archer (76*) he put on 144 for the 3rd wicket. When he was out for 61, the remaining task was quite a simple one.
He has made 32 appearances for Irish sides in non-cap matches including Ireland U23, Ireland A - both of which he has captained - and the full Irish side in warm up or other matches not seen as being full internationals.
He has scored 705 runs in these matches at 26.11 and taken 16 wickets at 29.86. While he has hit two 50s for the senior side in non-cap games, his best innings was played against Denmark A in 2008 at Amstelveen when he and Thinus Fourie put on an unbroken 211 for the 4th wicket after Ireland, led by Ryan Haire, had lost three wickets for 82. John made 115* going on to take 2-41 to help Ireland to a comfortable victory.
John has gained 134 Irish caps in official matches scoring 1849 runs at 22.83 with one 100 and five 50s, besides taking 83 wickets at 29.61. The most famous match in which he played and to which he contributed nobly was, of course, the win over England at Bangalore in the 2011 World Cup.
First he took 4-63 in 9 overs, helping Trent Johnston restrict England to 70 off the last 10 when they might have put the game beyond even Kevin O'Brien's reach. John's wickets were Trott, Bell, Collingwood and Bresnan, no bad haul for the fifth member of the attack.
He then came in to bat at 273-6 after Alex Cusack was out and helped O'Brien take the score to within eleven runs of immortality before Kevin was run out. Fittingly, he made the winning hit a lofted slog off Jimmy Anderson to finish with 33*, having hit six 4s from his 30 balls.
Though he had been a useful member of the side since his debut and had, for example topscored with 23* at 9 as Ireland were swept away by McGrath and Tait for 83 as they faced Australia in the 2007 World Cup, besides taking 3 wickets in Ireland's first ever ODI against England at Stormont in 206, removing Trescothick, Collingwood and Bell, his real breakthrough came in 2009, when he got a run of useful scores in the T20 World Cup held in England.
He was for example, involved in the match winning partnership with Kevin O'Brien that brought Ireland victory over Bangladesh. The ability to score runs against top opposition seemed to give him fresh confidence and the following season, he was able to bring to the Irish side all the success he had for so long demonstrated for North County.
He began 2010 with 58 against Afghanistan in the Intercontinental Cup at Dambulla in January. Ireland made 405, batting first, but eventually lost by 9 wickets. John at 8 made 58* from 90 balls with nine 4s. He put on 66 for the last wicket with Peter Connell in what Roy Morgan, in his history of the tournament, called "an entertaining tenth wicket stand."
John was to follow this innings up with another half century - 54 - against The Netherlands at Amstelveen in the World Cricket League in July, top scoring in Ireland's below par score of 177. Hitting four 4s and one 6 from 71 balls, John gave the spinners Dockrell and Stirling something to bowl at. They rose nobly to the challenge and brought Ireland an unlikely victory. However the George and Paul show would have been impossible without John's crucial knock.
Three more fine innings remained that season. The Netherlands came to Observatory Lane in August for an Intercontinental Cup match but, batting first, were bowled out by Dockrell and Albert van der Merwe for 188. Despite useful 40s from Alex Cusack and Kevin O'Brien, Ireland were 153-5 when John joined Andrew White at the wicket. "A magnificent batting display followed," wrote Roy Morgan, "as Andrew White and John Mooney crafted a sixth wicket partnership of 221 in just under three hours." White made 144 and John, who reached three figures off 129 balls, 107. In all he faced 138 balls and hit seventeen 4s in 179 minutes. Ireland went on to win by an innings.
In September Ireland paid a controversial visit to Zimbabwe where John again shone with the bat. In the Intercontinental Cup match, he came in at 269-6, once more joining White in a much needed partnership. They put on 86 before White fell for 102. John, after losing Trent Johnston cheaply, then found another partner in Dockrell. The score reached 438 before John gave a return catch to medium pacer Shingirai Masakadza. He had made 86 in 220 minutes from 165 balls with ten 4s. The match ended in a high scoring draw.
Three ODIs followed this match, Ireland winning the final one though had the DRS applied in the earlier matches, and they would probably have been more successful. John made 55 in the victory, hard earned runs, coming from 61 balls and containing only 2 fours. Dockrell again proved a useful partner as they added a vital 30 for the last wicket.
To date his last half century for Ireland came in July 2011 against Namibia at Stormont. His innings in this match was vital to Ireland's success. He came in at 107-6 after Ireland had won the toss and proceeded to take charge of proceedings. He raced to 86 from 71 balls hitting nine 4s and two 6s. Once more Dockrell stepped into the breach as a batsman, helping in a 9th wicket stand of 61. Ireland went on to win by 26 runs.
There were few other contestants for Man of the Match. John's best bowling - statistically - for Ireland also came in 2011 when he took 4-27 in 8.3 overs against Canada in the first of the two ODIs played in September 2011. The visitors, crushed in the Intercontinental Cup match, were never in the hunt as Ireland stormed to 328-6, Ed Joyce and William Porterfield to the fore, Canada were then bowled out for 195.
Last (2012) summer was not an altogether happy one for John as he suffered a late season injury which was to rule him out of the T20 World Cup and his brief sojourn with Sussex 2nd XI was not a very successful one though his 19* helped the county to victory in a Second XI Trophy Match with Surrey and he hit a typical 20 in a T20 win over Hampshire.
However the door at Hove remains open and the County's newly confirmed captain knows a thing or two about John's abilities!
John Francis Mooney has already carved himself a name in Irish Cricket, far beyond the toughly competitive world of Fingal. Time is still on his side and the many admirers for his forthright play can surely look forwards to much more to come in the years ahead.
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