On Saturday 13th September the local communities of Donegal witnessed the introduction of cricket to the masses through an initiative suitably named ‘Cricket in the Park’.
This event was held in Letterkenny Town Park yesterday as a method of showcasing cricket to the area and to help celebrate and embrace diversity in sport.
A partnership of organisations came together to deliver this event including Cricket Ireland, Donegal Sports Partnership and Inishowen Development Partnership, which assisted in attracting wider selection of the population.
As Donegal has been identified as a ‘Superarea’ (an area with huge potential mostly untapped) this partnership provided the ideal vehicle to bring cricket past St Johnston and further into Donegal.
Local residents had the opportunity to take part in some friendly cricket challenges with business owners, politicians, Gardaí and Cricket Ireland coaches.
Cricket Factory equipment was put to use for all to test their abilities whilst a highly competitive cricket match took centre stage, with representatives in each team including Cricketers, Hurlers, Footballers and the Gardai.
In true Cricket fashion, mid innings the cricket tea was served with a wide variety of food on offer supplied by Ashaka a local Indian restaurant in Letterkenny.
Coinciding with the ‘senior’ match, a youth cricket match was also taking place just outside the boundary with many children getting their first taste of competitive cricket in the park, offering opportunity for over 200 people to get involved on the day.
Leading up to this event Cricket Ireland in partnership with Donegal Sports Partnership organised a school program within the local area to showcase cricket to the wider audience and place cricket where it hasn’t been seen for a long time.
This school program in Letterkenny has included over 250 children and is drumming up a keen interest amongst these young ‘would be’ cricketers.
The popularity of the game in the school setting has had an immediate impact with schools exploring options to purchase their first cricket kit with additional sessions planned to ensure a solid grasp of cricket is provided.
In the lead up to the event on the Saturday the official launch took place in the heart of Letterkenny where shoppers became cricketers for a time.
This brought cricket into the public eye in the centre of town assisted greatly by Letterkenny Town manager Dessie Larkin, he attended on Friday evening and enjoyed Saturday’s cricket in the park, describing it as "a fabulous day."
Photos taken by Danny Nee. (Donegal Sports Partnership)