Sunday 24 March 2019

Enniscorthy gets set to be bowled over by cricket festival

Organisers hope to revive the local cricket club which was first set up in February 1919

George Copeland, Enniscorthy; Derel Dockrell, President Cricket Leinster and Herbie Honohan, Wexford Wanderers CC
George Copeland, Enniscorthy; Derel Dockrell, President Cricket Leinster and Herbie Honohan, Wexford Wanderers CC
Steve Hadley and Al Fitzgerald at the launch
Committee with Slaney Search & Rescue volunteers. Back: Shane O’Connor (chairman SSR), Wally McKenna, Keith Dwyer, Matthew Morrissey, Margaret Kavanagh-Casey, Pat Casey and Derek Dockrell (President Cricket Leinster). Front: Martin Sheridan-Pope, George Copeland,Steve Hadley and Ian Walshe (North Kildare CC) at the launch of Enniscorthy Cricket Club Centenary Celebrations in The Athenaeum

Brendan Keane

Enniscorthy will host a cricket festival as part of this year's Rock 'n' Food festival and it's being organised to mark the centenary of the town's original cricket club being set up in 1919.

The festival launch took place on February 26 which was the exact date, 100 years on, from when Enniscorthy cricket club was established.

A local committee has been formed to organise the forthcoming centenary event composed of: George Copeland; Stephen Hadley; Martin Sheridan-Pope and Ian Walshe.

A spokesperson for the committee said a display of memorabilia and documents dating back to the time of the first cricket matches in the town will be on view to the public during the festival which will take place over the bank holiday weekend on Sunday and Monday, August 4 and 5.

He also said the old cricket roller was found at the showgrounds and this will likely be part of the display.

A Facebook page and group has been set up and the committee are hoping that the anniversary event will lead to re-establishing the club in the town.

'There were two threads to our thoughts, to celebrate the past and to look to the future,' said the spokesperson.

'It was decided to have a Cricket Festival with a blitz taking place on Sunday, August 4, which will be smash, bang wallop affair, with coloured clothing, music, with six to eight, six-a-side teams taking part.'

On Monday, August 5, there will be a match between Enniscorthy and 'the Leprechauns' and it may be themed in style to the period when the club was formed.

The committee is thankful to the showgrounds officials for allowing use of the facility for their event.

In addition to trying to revive the club the committee also hope to raise money for Slaney Search and Rescue through the event.

'We decided to have a big draw and for the whole Cricket Festival to be a fundraiser for Slaney Search and Rescue,' said the spokesperson.

'It's a deserving cause [and they] do a lot of hard work for the community and badly need the funding.'

Enniscorthy Cricket Club was founded in the Anthenaeum Hall on February 26, 1919.

The committee said there is evidence that cricket was played before that date that's when the formal club was set up.

It began in a field near Enniscorthy but then had its home in the showgrounds until it folded in 1968.

Over 500 different names were associated with the club while it was up-and-running and family members and relatives of many of those people still live in the Enniscorthy area.

'Cricket is still in some of those families with George Dockrell currently playing for Ireland,' said the spokesperson.

'George's grandfather, Jim Quinn, used to help with maintenance of the cricket ground in the showgrounds,' he added.

George's father, Derek Dockrell, is the current President of Cricket Leinster while Jack Tector, Harry Tector and Tim Tector all captained Ireland at different levels with Harry currently with the senior squad.

Their father, Heatley, played for YMCA for years and he also MCs at Ireland's home international cricket matches.

Heatley's late father, Bill, was capped for Ireland in rugby and also played cricket for Enniscorthy.

Other local players included Leslie Deacon, Andrew Deacon and Terrence Deacon who all played cricket for various clubs in Dublin and their uncle, George Copeland, played his cricket with Enniscorthy.

Glyn Murphy played cricket for Railway Union in Dublin and his father, John along with his uncles, Sidney and David, all played for Enniscorthy.

Ian and Jonathan Walshe played for various cricket clubs around Leinster and their uncle, Alfie, was a member of the Enniscorthy rugby squad that won the town's cup in 1963.

They are grandsons of Ernie and Ethel Walshe; Ernie used to look after the cricket facilities in the showgrounds, was secretary to the cricket club and used to get the team out every week while Ethel used to make the teas at the home matches.

Jonathan Walshe is currently President of the Midlands and South East Cricket Association.

As the committee member pointed out to this newspaper 'there was a lot of cross pollination in sport in Enniscorthy' and he gave an example of all-Ireland senior hurling medal winner, Adrian Fenlon, whose father played cricket for Enniscorthy.

The cricket gang-mowers were used to cut the GAA pitch in the Duffry Gate by Ernie Walshe and as a result of that he was able to get into the Wexford winning changing room in Croke Park in the mid-50s when they won three all-Ireland hurling titles.

The Rackards were also big fans of cricket and the cricket gang mowers, drawn by a horse, were also used by Ernie Walshe to cut the Enniscorthy Golf Club fairways when the course was a 9-hole layout.

The committee spokesperson also said that some GAA players played cricket under pseudonyms at the time of the ban.

'J Hobbs, a famous English cricketer was often used in the scorebook,' he said.

'J Hobbs was also used in scorebooks by certain players if they didn't want to be seen playing on a Sunday.'

Enniscorthy Guardian