Hard work pays off for Barry as he takes newcomer award
Young Dubliner took his chance against Sri Lanka and went from strength to strength
Barry McCarthy will never forget 2016, the year of his international debut. The Pembroke cricketer made an instant impact in the green shirt and at one stage had 18 wickets in his first seven games, suddenly finding himself in the top five in the world.
This weekend, at a glittering awards ceremony in Dublin, he has picked up the Sunday Independent Aengus Fanning Award for Emerging Player of the Year. In collecting the coveted award from editor Cormac Bourke he follows in the footsteps of greats of the game such as Ed Joyce, Kevin O'Brien and Eoin Morgan.
The 24-year-old Dubliner had been a little slow in developing and was overlooked until the visit of Sri Lanka to Malahide in June - but he took his chance when it came along. "I had a couple of years' hard work trying to get noticed," he admits. "It was probably as well that my debut was delayed as I mightn't have been ready for it."
Ireland were well beaten that day but they had discovered a potential new star and McCarthy spent the summer showing why coach John Bracewell had shown faith in him.
As 2016 fades away (Ireland have no more internationals) McCarthy sits on top of the table as the player with the best strike rate in the world for those who've bowled in eight games or more - a wicket every 22 balls.
After five summers on the trot, flitting between the hemispheres, he's settling into an Irish winter and some home cooking in Booterstown. He's back and forth for coaching to the north-east of England too, where he's just signed a new two-year contract.
He's already been playing county cricket for two years with Durham, who feature the new star of the England team, Ben Stokes.
Durham have been one of the most successful sides in recent years, but despite finishing fourth in Division One their season unravelled quickly. With the club on the verge of bankruptcy, the England board stepped in to bail them out - but the price was relegation, a reduced staff, a sacked board, and a 48-point penalty to start the 2017 season.
"It was hard", admits McCarthy, "but we had a meeting of the players last week and we have to move on. In some ways its good for me as I'll have a better chance of playing more next season."
He's keen to cement his place in the Ireland side, too, for whom some memorable days are just around the corner.
"We're playing England at Lord's in May, which would be amazing to play in," he grins. "I played there once for Ireland, but it rained after six overs so I didn't get a chance to do anything."
That game in Lord's will be déjà vu for Ed Joyce, who spent 10 years there playing for Middlesex. There was even more déjà vu for him on Friday as he collected the KPC Group Men's International Player of the Year award for the third time in four years.
Joyce needed crutches to climb onto the stage, the legacy of a knee operation last week. He reports that the surgeon is happy with the outcome and he has no pain, but will require some weeks of rest and months in rehab before he returns on the tour to India in March.
The cricketshop.ie Women's International Player of the Year was Ciara Metcalfe, a popular choice for a player who sacrificed much to win her place back and has been a huge influence on a newly-resurgent side.
While the women's side has chalked up some excellent wins over South Africa and Bangladesh, the men's year was blighted by embarrassing defeats to Oman, Papua New Guinea and Hong Kong.
That made for a less buoyant speech than previous years from chief executive Warren Deutrom. But as a fan of the US political drama series 'The West Wing', Deutrom picked a good week to quote a passage from that show:
"Chief of staff, Leo McGarry, tells the US president that a new missile system is succeeding against most of its KPIs - as a model of innovation, military co-operation and cost-effectiveness.
"'Yes,' says the president, 'but when we fired the damn thing, it missed the target by 85 miles…'
"The point, ladies and gentlemen, is not to miss the point. So let me reassure you now - in our own State of the Union - that we haven't taken our eye off the ball, that our aim isn't just to do things right, it's to do the right things."
He went on to detail the advances Ireland has made, and there is justifiable optimism that the men's side will be playing Test matches before long. The announcement of the approval for the Cricket Ireland Performance Centre in Blanchardstown is a tangible sign of the can-do attitude that will see a long-standing problem - the absence of good quality practice facilities - being solved.
Deutrom's final message was to rally clubs and grassroots to keep advancing and developing Ireland's own cricket culture - playing numbers have risen from 11,000 to 52,000 in a decade and the sport has boundless ambitions to grow within Ireland as well as compete at the highest international levels.
Full list of winners
KPC Group Men's International Player of the Year: Ed Joyce
Cricketshop.ie Women's International Player of the Year: Ciara Metcalfe
Aengus Fanning Emerging Player of the Year, Sponsored by Sunday Independent: Barry McCarthy
Flogas Junior Player of the Year: Lorcan Tucker
O'Neills Club Player of the Year: John Anderson
Tildenet Club of the Year: Cork County
Oasis Volunteer of the Year: Herbie Honohan
Notts Coach of the Year: Rob O'Connor
IAA Official of the Year: Paul Reynolds
Hanley Energy Interpro Player of the Year: John Anderson
Toyota Super 3s Player of the Year: Eimear Richardson
Shapoorji Pallonji Academy Player of the Year: Josh Little
Cricket Writers of Ireland Hall of Fame Award: Paul Jackson
Gibneys Outstanding Contribution to Irish Cricket Award: Eddie Lewis
Sunday Indo Sport