UCD cricket is on the rise. A select group of students, led by incoming President of the UCD Cricket Society, Cillian McDonald, are looking to revitalise the UCD cricket club. The Cricket Committee have organised a fixture against Trinity in College Park on Friday the 15th of April. Looking ahead to the game, and beyond, McDonald hopes that the sport can finally find a permanent home in the college.
UCD’s cricket programme is a bit underwhelming. Considering that the college offers sports scholarships from fencing to ultimate frisbee, it is slightly surprising that cricket does not really feature on the sports agenda. In truth, it doesn’t help if you don’t have a pitch to play on. Or even eleven players to make up the numbers for that matter…In spite of these minor setbacks, UCD cricket is experiencing a renaissance.
The rebirth of the UCD Cricket Society has been instigated by President-elect, Cillian McDonald. He is a promising young player who feels passionately about the future of the sport in Belfield. Through liaising with UCD, Trinity and other students interested in the game, he has set up a ‘colours’ match in College Park on Friday the 15th of April. Speaking to the College Tribune, McDonald, known as ‘Ciller’ to his teammates, said “In the early 20th century UCD were a very prominent club, playing games on campus”. He asserted that given this “rich history” and the broad range of nationalities across the college, rebuilding the cricket club “made sense. It just needed someone to get it up and running”.
The “rich history” that McDonald refers to is not only applicable to days gone by. It should be noted that the college has seen a myriad of talented players pass through its ranks in recent years. The likes of UCD graduate and current Irish international Gareth Delaney, part of the squad that has qualified for next year’s Cricket World Cup in Australia, highlights the calibre of player available to the first XI. Indeed, the internationals only scratch the surface of the depth of talent scattered throughout the college, playing a decent standard of club cricket in Ireland.
But is there actually any interest from the students themselves? Seemingly so. McDonald insists that “the demand is there. The goal will be to enter the Leinster Leagues with three or four teams across the 19 divisions”. That would mean putting together a squad of over 50 players. This, he admits, is a long way off at the moment. The most immediate concern is to find space for a cricket pitch. The new President pointed out that a cricket crease is “very easy to install and takes up very little space”. As such, it should not be too strenuous for the college to create a suitable playing surface. Maybe they could convert one of the many GAA pitches into something useful…
On a more serious note, is the lack of a playing facility an indication of neglect from the college itself? Apparently not. McDonald maintains that “the college was very supportive of it…(UCD) details all of the necessary steps needed to take and how to run the club on a daily basis”. If that is the case, and the interest in the game is there, then why has it taken so long to organise a
competitive team? The answer lies in the lack of structure. McDonald claims that “In the last few years there have been attempts at running the club properly”. These efforts, he laments, were spoiled by “the committee all graduating and the club going back to square one”. McDonald observes that other sports in the college have past pupils who “are very keen to see their clubs grow and support them on a weekly basis”. Cricket is quite the reverse. The UCD alumni, witnessing the lack of progress, lose interest in their club. This will need to change if it wants to operate in the long run. McDonald believes that entering leagues such as “The Trevor West Outdoor Intervarsity Competition”, will attract interest and allow the college to be identified as a “cricket playing university”. Once that is attained, an appearance in the Irish Senior Cup awaits. That’s basically the Champions League of Irish cricket.
So, we turn to Friday the 15th of April, a day that will look to promote cricket in UCD and prevent its future decline. And what better place to do it: College Park on a Friday evening, the Pav full to the brim. It promises to be an entertaining affair, but what about the chances of winning? Although Trinity is a well-established club, McDonald remains “quietly confident” of victory, in what he predicts will be “a very competitive game”.
In short then, if anyone is knocking around Trinity circa 2 pm on the 15th of April, stroll over to the Pavilion. There’ll be plenty of students enjoying 4 cans of Pratsky for eleven quid and whether they know it or not, they’ll be watching a game of cricket.
Stephen Black – Sports Writer