Bowled over by hat-trick heroes
A RURAL town is celebrating after a group of Pakistani men who lost their jobs in a meat factory won the Connacht cricket league for the third year in a row.
Local resident John Corcoran said the idea to set up a club came from a conversation in a barber shop at the time of the Cricket World Cup in 2007.
"The barber was Pakistani and he was very upset when they were beaten by Ireland. So we had a chat about getting a few lads together and we just took it from there," he said.
Now the Pakistani and Irish communities are united on the cricket field in Ballaghaderreen.
When Dawn Meats closed its factory in Roscommon, the laid-off Pakistani workers decided to make the most of their unexpected free time and set up a team to play the game in Ireland.
The Ballaghaderreen Cricket Club's efforts were rewarded again this year when they scored a hat-trick in the Connacht League. It's the first time in the league's history that a club has brought home silverware for three consecutive years.
The club, which was unbeaten in their 12 matches this season, is made up of players aged from 13 to 64.
Club captain Sajjad Hussein (34), who has been living in Ireland for nine years, has been working as a barber in the town since the factory's closure.
His club has 14 Pakistani players, a handful of Irish men and one Indian man. They train in the Ballaghaderreen golf club as they have no funds to build a home ground.
Sajjad said some of the men managed to find work after their jobs were axed but that five were still unemployed.
"We have some school kids on the cricket team so we have a great mix of people. We're glad we started the club now -- it's great for a small town to see how well we're doing."