“He has taken his white ball game to a new level” – Knights head coach Johnston praises McCollum after match-winning innings

Northern Knights head coach Simon Johnston was full of praise for James McCollum after the batsman scored 79* from 53 balls in their eight-wicket victory over the North West Warriors on Tuesday.

Chasing 116 after Mark Adair collected figures of 4-14, Ireland international McCollum led the way, notching his highest career T20 score in the process as he shared partnerships of 53 with Harry Tector (22) and 62 with captain Gary Wilson (12*).

McCollum had started the season well with Waringstown, but this was on another level, striking nine fours and two sixes.

His innings, which included a number of creative and aggressive strokes, was a reminder of how much his game has progressed in white ball cricket and Johnston knew a performance like this was just around the corner.

“He had a bit of a rough time being left out in England,” he said.

“He has worked so hard for 18 months on his white ball game and has done everything asked of him.

“He has gone even further in the last six months and you won’t see anyone work harder.

“When someone tells him he can’t do something or needs to work on something, he does it and that was testament to him.

“That has been the way he has been playing for two weeks in the nets and he just needed a chance to showcase it.

“He has taken his white ball game to a new level today so it was brilliant to watch.”

It was the Knights second victory over the Warriors in the space of 12 days, leaving them second in the Trophy standings and trailing Leinster Lightning by just three points.

Mark Adair picked up four wickets. ©CricketEurope

The tone was set in the field and with the Warriors sitting on 90/3 in the 15th over, they were able to peg them back to 115 all out off the final ball of the innings.

Graeme McCarter (2-13), Jacob Mulder (1-28) and David Delany (1-20) were also in the wickets and Johnston was delighted with their efforts in the field.

“That was brilliant from start to finish.

“We really set the tone with the ball and in the field.

“That was as good as I’ve seen us in a while. I remember saying a couple of weeks ago that we looked rusty but we got rid of all of that today.

“I can’t say enough about Graeme McCarter, and Mark Adair was as impressive as you’ll see with the skills, knowledge and ability to get out of situations and then just dominate when he needs to.

“David Delany bowled three very quick overs in the middle and got them jumping a bit and put them on the back foot.”

They go into Thursday’s game with Leinster knowing that they must win in order to keep their hopes of retaining the title alive.

Leinster are also unbeaten after winning twice against Munster Reds and the Knights have been dealt a blow with the unavailability of McCarter.

That means Lisburn bowler Josh Manley is set to make his first Inter-Provincial appearance of the season and Johnston is excited for their trip to Sydney Parade, home of Pembroke CC.

“Grum is a big loss but hopefully someone can step up.

“The squad is a bit stronger this year. We are really excited for it and to see what happens.”

Robinson Services and D&P Cricket Player of the Week – Max Burton

Due to bad weather during the week, only five matches were played across the Robinson Services Cup and Trophy over the weekend but it still produced several fine individual performances.

The latest winner of the Robinson Services and D&P Cricket Player of the Week, and therefore winning a £50 voucher to spend on equipment at D&P, is Cliftonville Academy’s Max Burton.

Burton scored 61 of his side’s 122/5 before taking three wickets (3/26) but it wasn’t enough to stop Downpatrick recording a seven-wicket victory.

It has been a great start to life with Cliftonville Academy for Burton, who moved to the club from Carrickfergus alongside Matthew McCord ahead of the 2020 campaign.

He scored 87 in his previous innings against Ballymena, helping Cliftonville Academy to one of their three season victories heading into a final fixture against title-chasing Derriaghy.

Honourable mentions:

  • In the same game, Paul Tate scored 59 for Downpatrick to help secure a victory that leaves them sitting in fourth heading into the final weekend.
  • Yet another honourable mention for Armagh fast bowler Ben Mackey who collected figures of 4-8 and very nearly picked up a second hat-trick of the season in their win over Ballymena.
  • Matthew Lyttle was also in the runs again for Donacloney Mill, hitting 57 as his side recorded an impressive 31-run win over Cregagh.

Waringstown lift maiden Gallagher Women’s Challenge Cup title

Warngstown picked up their first Gallagher Women’s Challenge Cup title after beating defending champions CSNI by four wickets at The Lawn on Sunday.

Batting first, CSNI posted a total of 67/6 from their 20 overs with captain Abbi Leckey (18) top-scoring while Molly Mathers (2-11) and Waringstown skipper Charlotte Lyons (2-12) starred with the ball.

Their chase got off to a bad start when Cara Murray was caught off the bowling of Nikhita Gondhia (2-14) in the second over, who also dismissed Lyons (10) to leave Waringstown sitting on 15-2.

A third-wicket partnership of 30 between Mathers (15), who was named Player of the Match, and Rachael Harrison (19) helped to steady the ship.

The Villagers then lost three wickets for five runs as Mathers, Lois Lyttle and Harrison all departed to leave them 50-5 and provide some hope for their visitors.

It was left to Abbi Harrison (15*) to lead her side home, rounding the game off with a four off the first ball of the final over as Waringstown lifted the trophy for the first time.

Charlotte Lyons with the Challenge Cup trophy. ©CricketEurope

“It was a really close game, with CSNI taking it right to the last over,” Lyons told CricketEurope after the game.

“It was a great effort by them after not setting a huge total but they fought all the way.”

Lyons believes the squad are now capable of going on to win even more silverware with the likes of Harrison in their side.

“Abbi is a very strong player and she backed herself to win the game and did it for us,” she added.

“It was a great innings and we were all confident she could do it.

“This is the first time we have won the competition having lost four years ago to North Down.

“I feel this is the start of something for the side, as we have a lot of young players who can only get better.”

CIYMS retain LVS Twenty20 Cup with victory over North Down

It was once again Nigel Jones that led from the front for his side as CIYMS retained their LVS Twenty20 Cup crown with an 11-run victory over North Down at The Green on Sunday.

After winning the toss, CI got off to the worst possible start when in-form Chris Dougherty was bowled for 0 by Ruhan Pretorius (2-21) but that brought John Matchett (41 from 41) and Ireland international Mark Adair (23 from 19) together at the crease.

The pair put on 54 for the second wicket before Adair was caught off the bowling of Peter Davison (2-21), who also had Jason van der Merwe (16) caught by wicketkeeper Jamie Magowan.

That brought Jones, who has taken more of a backseat when it comes to batting this season, to the middle and he would go on to take his side up to what proved to be an unassailable total of 138 by smashing 43* from 26 deliveries (three fours, three sixes).

The 38-year-old will go down as one of the great all-rounders in the local game, winning most competitions on multiple occasions, and it was his breezy knock that gave CIYMS momentum heading into the second innings.

North Down started well with Aditya Adey (28) and Ruhan Pretorius (47*) putting on 59 for the first wicket before the former was caught on the boundary off the bowling of Jacob Mulder (3-31).

Pretorius struggled for rhythm throughout, scoring his runs from 57 balls, but continued to fight for his side, hitting two sixes and supporting the likes of Peter Eakin.

With the required runs per overs nearing 14, it was going to take something special to get North Down over the line and Eakin (26 from 15) was threatening to produce it.

Jones hits one of his three sixes. ©CricketEurope

In the 19th over, he hit Mulder for a four and six in consecutive balls but when he was caught by Jones going for another boundary, the game was all but done.

Adair, who was named Man of the Match, bowled the almost perfect final over to finish with figures of 1-9 from four overs and seal yet another trophy for CIYMS, adding to the four they won in 2019.

“We are delighted,” said Jones after the game.

“It was something that we talked about when cricket was coming back and that cup would be up for grabs.

“It’s always nice to have something to focus on and fair play to the boys for backing it up.

“Talking about it is one thing but to actually do it is fantastic.

“There has been a number of big performances and it hasn’t been down to one or two individuals. Different guys have stepped up when we really needed them to.

“We were confident and knew we were always going to have an opportunity with our bowling attack.

“We have eight or nine bowlers there and that gives me plenty of options and then it’s just about picking the right guy at the right time.”

With all of his experience and ability, Jones is still more than capable of producing the goods for seasons to come but says big occasions really help motivate him to produce his best.

“At my age now, I probably need games with that intensity to get me up for it.

“It helps me focus a bit more and it’s probably the nature of playing for as long as I have. I’m just happy I could contribute to another win for the team.”

Mark Adair with Tommy Anderson of Lagan Valley Steels.

Mulder has developed a reputation for himself as arguably the best T20 spinner in Ireland and he keeps putting in the performances that would be worthy of his recall to the international arena.

The 25-year-old tends to pop up and produce a little bit of magic or take a crucial wicket when his side need it, and that was again the case on Sunday as he broke the opening partnership, had North Down’s in-form player Alistair Shields caught and bowled and then dismissed the dangerous Eakin.

“As a leg-spinner that plays for the Knights and that has played for Ireland, you expect him to perform,” added Jones.

“His skills came through there and he handled the pressure well.”

It has been an incredible run of success for the Belmont outfit, winning five of the last six trophies that were available to them.

They have now qualified for another All-Ireland T20 Finals Day, giving them an opportunity to also defend that crown, and Jones believes the togetherness and consistency of their squad has played a major role in their accomplishments.

“I think if you go back three or four years, I was pretty keen to get a settled side when I took over the captaincy.

“We have done that and it was a big focus of mine to have the same guys playing every week.

“We have that core and it means a lot in these big games because you know what everyone is thinking and what they are going through. They are backing each other and that’s crucial.

“I’m really excited about that (All-Ireland).

“We will obviously be focused on winning that again and play some good cricket. The boys will be backing themselves going into that.”

Scorecard from the game: https://www.cricketeurope.com/LIVE/CHANNELS/2/live.shtml

Instonians set up North Down semi-final clash after victory over Carrickfergus

Instonians booked their spot in the Robinson Services Cup semi-finals with a seven-wicket victory over Carrickfergus at Shaws Bridge on Saturday.

In the only top-flight game that was played, Carrick could only muster 81/7 before Instonians chased it down in 10 overs thanks to 28* off just 12 balls from Shane Getkate and Marcus Poskitt’s 25* off 18 deliveries.

They have now set up a semi-final with hosts North Down at The Green next Saturday and captain Andrew White was delighted to achieve their pre-season goal of play-off qualification.

“At the start of the year, that was our goal,” he said.

“We knew what we were trying to do with the players that we had.

“The 2s have won their league as well today which is fantastic and we have manged to get into the top four.

“For next weekend, it’s a case of never knowing what can happen.

“The boys are playing decent cricket. We have been a bit on and off but when we have been on, we have played really well.”

White has put an emphasis on youth development during this shortened campaign with seven players under the age of 20 in the side against Carrick while eight under-18’s helped seal the Junior One title for the 2nd XI earlier in the day.

It is a process that is working for them and White says it’s testament to the hard work being carried out by the whole squad.

“It was our target to see if we could get this team into the top four and we have done that.

“We have put in a lot of hard work. We have had 20+ players at training every night this year and it’s pleasing that the effort that has gone in off the pitch has been rewarded on it.”

Shane Getkate scored 28* on Saturday. ©CricketEurope

Lisburn’s home encounter with North Down and CIYMS’ game against Woodvale were both called off on Friday evening while Waringstown and CSNI’s winner-takes-all clash at The Lawn bit the dust due to a wet outfield.

With both teams receiving two points after no result, it ensured Waringstown’s qualification while CSNI moved up one spot into fourth, leaving Instonians needing to win and they did so comfortably, leapfrogging both sides into third position.

It means Waringstown will face off against CIYMS on Saturday in the other semi-final before the two winners return to Comber the following day for a final.

The bad weather has heavily impacted the final two rounds of league fixtures and White was just pleased to get some game time heading into a crunch weekend.

“A special thanks to the ground staff who worked tirelessly yesterday and all morning to get the games on.

“I know the weather has been tough but it has allowed us to get a win today and go into next weekend having played, whereas the others won’t have played in three weeks.”

North Down, who face CIYMS in the LVS Twenty20 Cup final at The Green on Sunday, will enter as favourites after beating Instonians twice already this season.

With the likes of Getkate in their ranks, you can never write Instonians off and White believes if his men show up, it could be a very competitive contest.

“North Down are a good side and have strength in depth.

“We have played poorly against them both times this year, but it’s a one-off game and we are good enough to turn them over if we play well.”

All-rounder to leave Armagh after five seasons

Neil Gelston will play his final game for Armagh next weekend before departing for Drumaness Superkings, ending a successful five-year spell with the club.

All-rounder Gelston, who has also spent time at CIYMS and Downpatrick, joined from Drumaness and this season went past the 100 wicket mark for Armagh.

He helped them gain promotion to the Premier League for the first time in over 50 years, playing a crucial role in their 2017 Section One title-winning side.

Armagh also picked up the LVS Twenty20 Trophy in the 2017 season, beating Woodvale in the final before Gelston went on to take 18 wickets in the top-flight campaign.

His final game will be on The Mall against Donacloney Mill next Saturday before heading back to his former club who merged with Belfast Superkings ahead of the 2020 campaign.

“I would like to take the opportunity to thank Armagh CC for giving me the chance to play for this fantastic club,” he said.

“After five years enjoying my cricket with the club, I now feel it’s the right time to move on and take up a new challenge back with Drumaness Superkings CC.

“When I signed, the aim was to establish the club back in Section One and improve the crop of players at the club, which I believe we have done with players showing great potential to match it with the best in the NCU.

“Never in our wildest dreams was the idea of Premier League discussed until the summer of 2017 when everything on the field clicked and we went on to achieve a memorable and history making league and cup double.

Gelston bowling for Armagh. ©CricketEurope

“I would like to thank everyone who welcomed me to the club, particularly the players who made my settling into cricket at Armagh very easy. Thank you to the committee, groundsmen and supporters also during my time with Armagh.

“Special mention must go to a couple of people. Steeno (Matthew Steenson, 1st XI captain) who has done and continued to do a fantastic job captaining the club.

“It takes a lot of commitment to captain a club, especially for the amount of time he has and he will go down as the most successful captain in Armagh history.

“Also thank you to the heartbeat of Armagh CC, Gareth (McCarter).

“The club is very lucky to have such a dedicated member who is involved in every aspect of the club. The time and dedication he puts into Armagh CC should never go unnoticed.

“Finally, I would like to wish the club every success in the future.

“Next week being the last game of the season, I couldn’t wish for a better place to finish my time with Armagh than on The Mall.”

Defending champions CSNI set to take on Waringstown in Gallagher Women’s Challenge Cup final

*The following is a NCU press release.

The Gallagher Women’s Challenge Cup final takes place on Sunday as Waringstown and CSNI face each other at The Lawn, Waringstown (10:30am).

CSNI captain Abbi Leckey will be hoping she will be holding the trophy aloft at the end of the game as they bid to retain the cup they won for the first time last season.

However, Waringstown captain Charlotte Lyons will be aiming to end the CSNI winning streak by leading her exciting young team to cup final glory.

On route to the final CSNI defeated North Down by 7 wickets in their first round match, followed by a five wicket win over former winners Lurgan in the semi-final, where Sophie Thomas was named Player of the Match after scoring 44.

CSNI know they will need to be on top form again if they are to overcome an exciting young Waringstown team.

Waringstown’s route to the final saw them defeat Instonians in a rain affected first round tie by 9 runs on run rate.

Their semi-final was a great game and saw them overcome last year’s runner-up Muckamore, chasing down Muckamore’s 136 total to win the game by 7 wickets.

Lyons, Gallagher Player of the Match in their semi-final, top scored with the bat (43*), leading her side to an excellent win over a very strong and experienced Muckamore team.

Both teams have shown excellent form this season so far. The 2020 Gallagher Women’s Challenge Cup Final is shaping up to be a great game between two evenly matched teams.

Will it be CSNI who retain the cup on Sunday, or will Waringstown continue their excellent form this season and lift the trophy on Sunday?

We await the outcome of what we hope will be a competitive contest to see who will be crowned Gallagher Women’s Challenge Cup winners 2020.

Waringstown: Charlotte Lyons (C), Cara Murray, Molly Mathers, Rachael Harrison, Rebekah Evans, Emily Mathers, Katie Patterson (Wk), Lois Lyttle, Abbi Harrison, Jennifer Hanna, Katie Hunter, Rachel Hanna

CSNI: Beth Healy, Sophie Thomas, Rachael Thomas (wk), Abbi Leckey (C), Aoife Fisher, Ash Healy, Jemma Gillan, Jemima Thomas, Nikhita Gondhia, Emma Scott, Annabelle Burton, Zoe Miller

CIYMS full of confidence as they look to defend LVS Twenty20 Cup crown

Defending LVS Twenty20 Cup champions CIYMS enter yet another final full of confidence as they prepare to take on North Down at The Lawn on Sunday (3pm start).

The Belmont side won the competition last year with a one-run victory over Waringstown at the same venue, which was just one of four trophies they picked up in 2019.

Reaching finals and winning trophies has almost become second nature for CIYMS in recent times, now making it to the decider in four of the last five competitions that they have been involved in.

They enter this one having lost only one game so far during a shortened campaign, which came at the hands of Instonians in the Robinson Services Cup, but captain Nigel Jones believes that defeat could have helped refocus his side as they enter a crucial period.

“As I’ve said for the last couple of years, it’s very rare where you go through a season without losing a game,” he said.

“As long as when you lose you’re learning quickly from it and it’s not a knockout game or one that will derail you.

“That loss against Instonians wasn’t the worst thing for us because it certainly sharpens the mind again and reminds us that we have to be switched on. The form is good and the boys are confident.”

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Nigel Jones was named Man of the Match in last year’s final. ©CricketEurope

CI welcomed Irish international Mark Adair back into their side for a semi-final victory over Lisburn before he picked up three wickets in their last outing against Waringstown.

The 24-year-old tends to thrive in the big games and Jones expects that will be the case again this weekend.

“It’s great to have him back.

“You expect him to turn up in those big club games and put in a performance.

“He’s very keen to take on that top-order role with the bat for us and we know what he can do with the ball with his skill. It’s a big positive to have him back in the team.”

Adair will most likely share the new ball with Allen Coulter, who has picked up nine wickets in all competitions.

With the likes of Jacob Mulder, James Cameron-Dow and Ted Britton bowling in the middle overs, Coulter plays a vital role in setting a platform.

“He plays a big role for us,” added Jones.

“In T20 cricket, the biggest thing is taking wickets.

“Containing the score is great and helps put the pressure on but you want it to lead to wickets and you get that with Allen Coulter, who has been quality over a number of years.

“He nails his yorkers, hits a good length and is a key bowler for us.”

This weekend is set to be a great advert for the local game with three finals taking place in the NCU while both CIYMS and North Down have already sealed their spots in the Robinson Services Cup semi-finals after a league meeting between the two was cancelled last Saturday.

These sorts of games are the ones that get players and fans alike most excited, and for Jones, taking part in occasions like Sunday is a big motivation.

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Mark Adair. ©CricketEurope

“That’s what drives and motivates you as a club cricketer.

“I know all of the boys are the same. They want the opportunity to play in these big games.

“From a personal point of view, I know that helps me with the stage that I’m at in my career.

“It adds that extra spice and it’ll be a cracking weekend.”

North Down have been in great form this season and have a number of players performing at a high level.

CI’s philosophy under Jones has been to focus inwardly rather than look too much at what the opposition are doing and he admits the chance to qualify for another All-Ireland Twenty20 Cup is a driving factor.

“We are always trying to focus on what we can do but looking at them, there is quality in the North Down side but as I remind the boys, there are plenty of threats in our side too.

“We will have to be smart with some of their individuals and restrict what they can do.

“We are fairly confident that if we stick to our plans that we can come out on the right end of the result.

“We had a lot of success last year but that’s in the past.

“We want to start afresh, win this trophy and get back into that tournament.

“We would love to get there again and see if we can win it again.”

“It was something really special for me” – CJ van der Walt reflects on Northern Knights debut

After making his Northern Knights debut in their two-run win over the North West Warriors last Thursday, CJ van der Walt is determined to work harder than ever to maintain his place in the squad.

The 23-year-old marked his maiden NCU season with Carrickfergus in 2019 by being named Premier League All-Rounder of the Year, scoring 403 runs and picking up 20 wickets in the league.

He ended the campaign with 653 runs at an average of almost 39 and 30 wickets in all competitions, helping the Middle Road side to their first Irish Senior Cup quarter-final.

Since moving to Northern Ireland, van der Walt has dreamed of stepping up to Inter-Provincial level and that’s something that has now become reality but it came as a shock to him that he was even included in the 13-man squad for the game.

“We got the message saying who was in the 13-man squad and I didn’t expect to even be in that,” he said.

“I haven’t had the greatest start to the season at club level. It was one of those things I’ve been really waiting for since I moved here.

“We rocked up at the ground and there were 12 of us so it was most likely going to be between me and Josh Manley.

“I kind of knew that I would probably play with the rain and going with another spin option might be the way.

“We were warming up and Johnty came over to me and said I was playing. I was sitting by myself doing some stretches and I couldn’t believe it.

“It was something that I was waiting for and now it has happened. It was something really special for me.”

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CJ van der Walt batting for Carrickfergus. ©CricketEurope

Van der Walt, who is in the squad again for Thursday’s clash with Munster Reds, shared the field at Bready last week with eight internationals, including the likes of Paul Stirling and Gary Wilson who each spent the best part of a decade on the County scene in England.

For a young player like van der Walt, being around that sort of experience is invaluable and he’s determined to learn as much as he can from the more senior players in order to improve his own game.

“My mentality when I went into it was that every opportunity I get I’m going to have to grab with both hands and use it.

“All of the players have much more experience than me so being in a team like that you look at how they go about their game and what they are doing to improve.

“You look at scenarios that you might struggle in, for example maybe bowling in T20’s, and you get to see how players who are at an international level go about it.

“You want to soak everything in and see how they go about their game and how they maintain their level.

“I remember saying to myself that it doesn’t matter where I bat but if I get the opportunity to get into the middle I need to use it.

“Being in the squad around such class players, I was just telling myself to soak up everything I could, speak to the guys and just see how they go about their games.

“I want to use my opportunity. I’m going to have to work harder now.

“I’ve got to the point where I got what I wanted but I need to rebuild now and start from the bottom.

“Those guys play so well because they put in the effort and that’s something I want to do and maintain.”

It hasn’t gone quite to plan at club level during the shortened 2020 season with the bat for van der Walt, hitting 81 runs in six innings but signs have been more promising on the bowling front, picking up seven wickets for winless Carrick.

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Van der Walt goes long. ©CricketEurope

“First of all, I think everybody had the mentality of there being no cricket this season because it didn’t look like there would be,” said van der Walt on where it has gone wrong.

“We were caught on the back foot with not much work going into the preparation.

“We had a really good pre-season before Covid and we were all positive, all at training sessions and all going hard and there’s definitely a lack of that during the season.

“I think we have been caught on the back foot going into the season and we had two games at the start of the season where we didn’t play the best cricket but could have won.

“We don’t have the amount of T20 cricketers than some other squads would have. T20 cricket is completely different to 50-over cricket and I don’t think we adapted quickly to that.

“It didn’t go our way and we have just been caught on the back foot with that.”

You would have got long odds on Carrick not picking up a victory across the duration of the Robinson Services Cup and they have one more chance to put that right on Saturday against Instonians.

Van der Walt believes a win this weekend would help boost morale as they head into pre-season to get ready for another campaign in 2021.

“We had a chat and going into next season there will be changes and we will be going hard.

“We want to make sure we are totally prepared.

“We want to just get that one win under the belt because that would give everyone a bit of positivity when there has been a lot of negativity.

“There hasn’t been many great performances but it has been people chipping in here and there.

“At the end of the day, if you want to play Premier League cricket that won’t be good enough.

“We play our last game this weekend and we will be pushing forward trying to get a win. We want some points on the board and to change the perspective a bit.”

“When we have small setbacks like this, it pulls us all together” – Jeff Maguire remaining positive despite Dundrum flooding

Despite their ground being flooded due to the rainfall brought by Storm Francis, Dundrum Chairman of Selectors and stalwart Jeff Maguire says it’s ‘far from doom and gloom’ around the club.

In photos and videos posted to social media on Tuesday afternoon, it was clear to see the damage that had been done to the County Down club’s home pitch with the whole ground submerged by water.

The rain is forecast to continue overnight and into Wednesday but Maguire doesn’t believe too much more damage will be caused and says these aren’t the worst conditions that the ground has faced.

“In 2008 we had a Sri Lankan professional over called Manoj Fernando (who lived on site) and he rang me one day saying I needed to get up there quick,” he said.

“I told him he would be alright because it was only water but he said I can’t swim! He was petrified.

“Water was coming up the path towards the pavilion and I will never forget it. It was worse then.

“The forecast says there will be more rain tonight and tomorrow.

“I don’t think there will be too much more damage because the river usually drops quickly. Big tides are the issue because that’s what backs it up.

“The big issue, and we’ve been saying this before, there is a drain that the Rivers Agency put in years ago that runs straight through our ground probably for a mile up into the corner.

“We have videoed where it is leaking and coming out into the ground, but the Rivers Agency says it isn’t theirs even though they maintain the bit at the end where the pipe comes out.

“They’ve put steps and rails down to it so we will be on to the local council when this is over.”

Maguire’s enthusiasm for Dundrum shines through in every conversation and he believes the ground is good enough to be approved for Grade One status by the Northern Cricket Union.

He predicts that within two weeks everything will be back to normal at The Meadow.

dundrum2

Dundrum captain James Martin and Conor Moag out for a swim. ©Dundrum Cricket Club

“The good thing about it is that it wasn’t saltwater,” he added.

“If it was saltwater, there would be more damage.

“We were planning to do work to the square in 10 days time so that would have really ruined it.

“In 7-14 days, we will be back to normal.

“We have three ground staff – one is 60, one is 81 and the other is 82. They are three unpaid ground staff and they had the place in really good order.

“We have a new electric scoreboard, extensions at both ends of the ground, double sightscreens and new covers.

“I was looking to push this year to see why it’s not a grade one ground because we think it is. It doesn’t produce massive scores but it produces great cricket.”

Dundrum have organised a pre-season tour to Shropshire and are planning to once again bring their junior section across the water next summer.

Maguire is maintaining a positive outlook despite the setback and says it will bring everyone closer together.

“It’s far from doom and gloom,” he said.

“There is the captain and young fella out standing in it with water up to their waist smiling. There’s a buzz about the club at the minute.

“We were beat by one run by the Drumaness Superkings in a great game of cricket and we are still buzzing.

“We have organised a pre-season tour to Shropshire and we will go in the spring now because of Covid.

“We have plans to bring our juniors away somewhere next year because we are one of the few clubs that do it and we want to continue doing it.

“I think we are a very progressive club. I wanted that post up today with them out swimming because it shows it isn’t doom and gloom.

“No one has died. Newcastle has been flooded and homes have been ruined. We haven’t and we will get there. We have a very positive attitude about the club.

“We were burnt down twice during the Troubles and that helped rejuvenate the club. When we have small setbacks like this, it pulls us all together.”