Friday 18 October 2019

Mooney the man to have in a war

John Mooney hits the winning runs against England in Bangalore

As a proud North County Dublin man (I should say Fingallian but restrictions on space prohibit the explanation), the game of cricket has never been the source of curiosity and sometimes bigotry which it appears to generate in other parts of Ireland.

A quintessentially English game it undoubtedly is, replete with quaintly English traditions, but in my part of the world it is and always has been the game of choice, particularly during the summer months, for a large part of the community regardless of gender, age or social background. And a wonderful social outlet for generations.

The Fingal League was inaugurated as long ago as 1926, with 20 teams competing, representing not only the large towns but also small townlands such as The Hills, Knockbrack, Ring Commons, Clonard, Man O'War, Balrothery, Baldwinstown, Tobergregan, Walshestown and Balcunnin.

The game runs deep in Fingallian soil, and in the blood of its families.

Prominent among those families are the Mooneys of Balrothery, now merged with Man O'War to form North County. John 'Ranger', by common consent, was good enough to play for Ireland but remained loyal to his beloved and regrettably unfashionable home club.

Sadly, he didn't live to see his sons Paul and John 'Boy' achieve the breakthrough to international cricket before he passed away while playing the game his family loves with a passion.

John, a full-time professional cricketer living in Ireland, something unheard of in Ranger's time, has established himself as a cornerstone of Ireland's team, itself rapidly becoming an integral component of the landscape of international cricket.

When he had what he later described as his Ray Houghton moment and scored the winning boundary, against England in the World Cup, John Boy cornered a permanent place for himself in the annals of Irish sport and brought awareness of cricket on this island to an entirely different level -- except in Fingal, or North County Dublin to the uninitiated.

Jim Glennon

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