North Down set to sign Jamie Magowan from Muckamore

In one of the first transfers ahead of the 2019 season, wicketkeeper-batsman Jamie Magowan is on the verge of completing a move to North Down from Muckamore.

The Comber side will be adjusting to life without captain Marty Moreland next season, with the veteran spinner stepping down after 23 seasons on the first XI.

He has been replaced by Alistair Shields, who was in charge of the Twenty20 side over the past two seasons, with the team reaching the final twice, where they were beaten by Waringstown on both occasions.

Magowan scored 311 runs in the 2018 campaign, with a high score of 72* coming on The Mall against Armagh.

He is widely considered one of the best wicketkeepers in the NCU, and was a regular for the Northern Knights in 2017.

Magowan, who will be heading to Australia over the winter months, sat sixth on the wicketkeeping dismissal charts last season with 13 catches and four stumpings in 18 matches.

While excited about a new challenge, Magowan says he has a lot of great memories from his time at Moylena.

“Reflecting on my time at Muckamore is difficult because I have so many good memories with some great people at the club,” he said.

“I would like to thank everyone at Muckamore and wish them all the best for the 2019 season.

“I am really looking forward to joining up with North Down as I feel it is the best place for me to improve my cricket, and hopefully help North Down improve as a team.”

JM Sport NCU 2018 End of Season Awards

2018 was another fantastic cricket season in the NCU, and it’s now time to hand out some awards.

Waringstown won another four trophies, while CIYMS picked up their first Premier League title since 2012.

Lisburn also had a fantastic season, sealing their return to the top flight at the first time of asking, and Templepatrick won 14 matches in a row to win Section Two.

Here, Johnny Morton picks winners from a variety of categories.

NCU Player of the Year.

I have to go with Adam Dennison.

The 21-year-old scored 1335 runs at an average of over 50 and a strike-rate of almost 100 in what has been a summer for batsmen to cash in on good wickets.

He hit four centuries (only Andre Malan had as many in the top flight), and the partnership he formed with James Hall was extraordinary.

Notable mentions: Allen Coulter, James Hall, Ruhan Pretorious, Andre Malan, Marc Ellison

Innings of the Year

Going on the batting that I personally witnessed this season, it has to go to Dennison.

His 145* to see Waringstown home in the Challenge Cup final was something else, with the score coming from 130 balls and including 12 fours and seven sixes.

Marc Ellison’s 139* on the same day deserves a mention, as does Andre Malan’s 140* against North Down and Michael Gilmour’s 135* on The Mall against Armagh.

Other notable mentions: Shadley van Schalkwyk (142 vs Muckamore), Chris Dougherty (122 vs North County)

Bowling spell of the Year

 My bowling spell of the year turned out to be in the second match I covered all season, and it goes to Lisburn’s Mark Berry.

With Derriaghy cruising towards victory in the Challenge Cup first round, Berry returned to pick up three quick wickets to help bring Derriaghy from 125-1 to 144-8 in a chase of 172.

It was the tightest match I think I actually watched all year, and Berry’s 4-33 almost snatched victory from the jaws of defeat.

Notable mentions: Allen Coulter (vs CSNI, first spell vs Waringstown) Andre Malan (vs North Down).

Overseas professional of the Year

This answer was easy up until about a month ago, but I am still going to opt for CSNI’s Andre Malan.

Ruhan Pretorious has shot up the run charts in recent weeks with consecutive centuries, including 188 against Armagh, but Malan’s consistency and quality can’t be overlooked.

In his debut season in the NCU, Malan scored 940 runs (4 centuries and 4 fifties) at an average of 47, and was leading the wicket-taking chart with 43 before he left prior to the conclusion of the season, which is magnificent considering it has been a glorious summer with most wickets hard as the road.


Andre Malan

Notable mention: Shaheen Khan

Captain of the Year

Waringstown’s Greg Thompson made some brave calls this year, and one that sticks out most is bowling first in the Challenge Cup final.

Most of the ground would have batted first, but choosing to bowl and winning the trophy shows he is a superb captain and has great judgement in pressurising situations.

He led his side to yet another Irish Senior Cup crown, plus two Twenty20 trophies in what was a superb campaign for the Villagers.


Thompson with the Twenty20 Cup

Notable mentions: Nigel Jones, James Kennedy, Michael Gilmour, Adam Berry, Ross Bryans

Club of the Year

Waringstown obviously had another fantastic year, but my club of the year is Templepatrick.

Their 1sts didn’t lose a single game all season (three trophies) which is quite remarkable, while their 2nds won Junior League 4 and 3rds were promoted from Junior League 7.

The youth also thrived, with the U-13’s and Under-15’s both winning their leagues. The future is bright at The Cloughan.

Other notable mentions: CIYMS, Lisburn

Young Player of the Year

If Dennison is Player of the Year, the 21-year-old has to be Young Player of the Year as well.

His performances and statistics put him so far ahead of any player in and around his age, and he would fit seamlessly into the likes of the Ireland Wolves right now and is definitely good enough to be a full international.

Second place for me would be Aditya Adey, while Morgan Topping makes up the top three.

Signing of the Season

Carrickfergus conducted a shrewd piece of business when they brought in Matthew McCord from Cliftonville.

He made his First Class debut for the Northern Knights earlier in the summer, and was included again in the most recent squad for the game against the Leinster Lightning, showing he is obviously highly-regarded.

The opening bowler took 27 wickets at a strike-rate of just under 30 and an economy of 4.63, with best figures of 5-36 in what was a solid season for Carrick.

Notable mention: Morgan Topping

Player to watch for 2019

I am going for someone from CSNI, and that player is Matthew Foster.

The teenager has been a regular this season and stepped up to open the bowling in Graeme McCarter’s absence after the Challenge Cup, and his spell against Carrick at Stormont was exceptional without much reward.

Taking 20 wickets at this standard at his age is brilliant, and with another season under his belt at the top level, I expect big things from him next season.

Carrickfergus’ 17-year-old Max Burton played one of the best innings this season with his 104 from 44 balls against Armagh, so he is another one to look out for.


Foster bowling against Carrickfergus

Bold prediction for 2019

CSNI have impressed me this season, and if they keep their squad together I think they will win either the Challenge Cup or Premier League next year. You heard it here first.

They have a good record in the Challenge Cup, winning it twice in the last five years and got to the final in 2018, and they are a powerhouse in white ball cricket.

Their league form improved towards the end of the season, and if they can get Andre Malan back and Marc Ellison stays at Stormont (teams would be silly not to enquire about his services after a fantastic season), combined with their young players having another season at the top flight, they are capable of something special.

Add to that the odd appearance from Derbyshire and Ireland T20 captain Gary Wilson and the leadership of James Kennedy, plus any winter signings they bring in, CSNI could have the perfect formula to lift some silverware.

I also believe that James McCollum will play a part in the Lord’s Test against England for Ireland come 2019.


James McCollum has had a great season for the Northern Knights

UP CLOSE WITH… Jacob Mulder

Jacob Mulder played a big part in helping CIYMS win their first Premier League title since 2012 this season.

The Irish international hit 296 runs in the middle order and collected 22 wickets with best figures of 5-22.

Remarkably, Mulder has taken three hat-tricks for CIYMS, and was the only player to achieve the feat in the top-flight in 2018.

Here, the 23-year-old reveals the best player he has played with and against, his favourite ground and more.

First cricket memory?

Playing backyard cricket with the cousins, probably about 9 or 10.

Highest ever score?

101 vs Waringstown (2nd XI)

Best figures?

6/91 off 33 vs North West Warriors

Best player you’ve played with?

Rassie van der Dussen

Best player you’ve played against?

Rashid Khan

Best piece of advice you’ve been given?

After being hit for five consecutive 6s, Christopher Dougherty said “just toss one up here”.

Favorite match you’ve been involved in?

2017 Challenge Cup final

Favorite sport apart from cricket?


Favourite ground?

Richardson Park (home of South Perth)

IN REVIEW: North Down captain Marty Moreland steps down from first XI duty after 23 seasons

After 23 seasons playing first XI cricket, North Down captain Marty Moreland has decided to step down from top flight action.

Since 2006, only Waringstown’s Gary Kidd (367) has taken more wickets than Moreland (362), and he will retire from 1st XI duty having picked up seven Challenge Cup titles and has won the Premier League on nine occasions.

The Comber-based club finished sixth after picking up 20 points from 14 games (5 wins, 6 losses, 3 no results), and reached the final of the Twenty20 Cup before a seven wicket loss to Waringstown.

Here, Moreland reflects on the 2018 season, looks back at his career and names who his replacement will be.

How do you feel the 2018 campaign went?

It wasn’t that good to be honest. We started well, but we should have done better. We had three void games which doesn’t help.

What do you put the poor season down to then?

We just weren’t consistent enough. The talent is there, but we just weren’t consistent enough with bat and ball.

A major positive was the form of Ruhan Pretorious though wasn’t it?

He is a fantastic professional. I think he is the best in the league. He scored over 1000 runs for us this year and took over 30 wickets, so he certainly performed.


Ruhan Pretorious

How important is it that Ruhan has re-signed for the 2019 campaign?

He is very important. We are going to be minus a couple of guys next season I would imagine.

You have announced that you are going to retire from 1st XI action. Did you just feel it was the right time to step down?

Yes. It is something I had been thinking about for a while.

When you look back on your career, are you happy with all you achieved? You won a lot of trophies.

Of course. I am very happy with it. The only thing that disappoints me is that I never won the Irish Cup with North Down. That’s the only negative thing.

You have played in some fantastic teams down the years.

I played in some great teams. Taimur Khan was probably the best player I’ve played with or against. When he arrived over in his first few seasons, Taimur was very good.

Who will be taking over now?

Alistair Shields will be taking over. He looked after the Twenty20 stuff this year and last year, so he has done a bit already. He has matured a good bit and is scoring runs, so he is a good person to step into the role.


North Down finished sixth in the Premier League in 2018

Do you feel the team are in a good position to achieve big things in 2019?

The team is young enough, so it’s just about them getting the consistency. The talent is there, it’s just using it week in, week out, which has been a problem for the past few seasons. You would be looking to see if they can get any new faces, so you never know what will happen over the winter.

Are you looking forward to dropping down to the 2nds?

When I was on the 1sts and not starred, I always played when I could for the 2nds because I enjoyed it. I am looking forward to it. There are three or four young guys that are 15/16 that need to push on, so hopefully they can do that. The 2nds are back in Junior One, so it will be a good standard playing against guys who have been there and done it. Hopefully we can win a Junior Cup!

CSNI’s Aaron Wright preparing for winter Down Under

Even though the NCU season is done and dusted for 2018, CSNI batsman Aaron Wright won’t be getting much of a break as he is preparing to spend the winter with Merbein South Cricket Club in Australia.

It was a campaign to remember for the 21-year-old, playing in his first Challenge Cup final against former club Waringstown, and there is no doubt that it has left him looking to perform in those occasions with regularity.

He also made his First Class debut for the Northern Knights against the North West Warriors in the Interprovincial Championship, showing the improvements he has made in his game over the past couple of years.

Here, he speaks about his upcoming trip, his season with CSNI and much more.

You’re off to Australia in a couple of weeks time. Are you excited for the opportunity?

Yeah, I really can’t wait. It’s two weeks until I leave now. Cricket season has just finished, so I get a short break then straight back into it.

You went to New Zealand last winter. How did you find that experience?

New Zealand was fantastic. It hardens you as a person and as a player. When you’re playing cricket, they don’t really rate Ireland as a nation so you hear everything about ‘What are you doing here?’ and things like that! You also have to look after yourself in your personal life. You have to wash, cook, clean etc and it makes you a better person.

Did you find your game had improved a lot after playing in New Zealand?

That was my first year at Civil Service, so going from Junior One to the Premier League would have been a massive jump. This probably reduced the jump in standard, and it was pretty even in terms of quality.


Wright in action for CSNI against Instonians in the Challenge Cup semi-final

You now have another season of Premier League cricket under your belt. Do you feel better for it?

Definitely. Up until I broke my finger, I felt as good a player as I had ever been. When I broke my finger, that sort of set me back a bit and I felt I didn’t have as good a end to the summer as I should have had.

Was the broken finger a big issue to overcome?

Whenever I came back, I was always thinking about it and if it could get hit again. It wasn’t fully recovered. I had to come back because I was worried about not getting picked for the Challenge Cup final, so I came back a few weeks prior. I probably shouldn’t have came back until the final itself, but it was definitely worth it.

That was your first Challenge Cup final. Was it enjoyable even though it didn’t go your way?

What a day that was. From the build-up all week to the day of the final – it was incredible. To watch Marc Ellison, Andre Malan and Adam Dennison play on the big stage was absolutely incredible. Unfortunately I didn’t do too well myself!


Wright during his time in New Zealand

Getting to play with the likes of Ellison and Malan must help you a lot?

Yeah It’s fantastic. To work with those two is so good. Marc is a freak of the game, he loves it and he is incredible to be around. He knows everything about cricket.

There are a lot of young players in the CSNI squad. With you all having another season at the top level, do you think the club is capable of something special in 2019?

Definitely. I heard Andre will be coming back next season, and I think we are just one big player away from winning trophies.

IN REVIEW: Muckamore captain Neil Gill looks back on the 2018 campaign

Muckamore secured their place in the Premier League for another season this year, finishing seventh having collected 20 points from 14 games (5 wins, 8 losses, 1 no result).

It is the exact same record they collected in the league in 2017, and captain Neil Gill is looking for his side to improve further when the 2019 season rolls around.

Professional Fahad Iqbal had a good season, and Adam McDaid (above) made a real impact when he joined the Moylena club late in the campaign.

Here, Gill reflects on the season that’s been.

When you look back on 2018, what are your thoughts?

Overall, we set out to stay in the league and we done that. There were a lot of positives with the likes of Aditya (Adey) and Craig Drummond having good seasons. Looking into next year, we need to think about not just surviving, but pushing on as well. That’s two years that we have consolidated.

The younger guys have had another season and hopefully I will be fully fit next year. We just to have to try and improve. There were a lot of positives, but there is also a lot of work that needs done.

You ended up finishing in 7th, but spent a lot of the season above that. Do you feel you performed better than that?

Looking through the whole season, there are only two matches that we got really annihilated in and those were the two CIYMS games. Other than that, we competed in every game.

We should have beat North Down away, and we had a no result against them as well. If you look on the whole, there are games there that we lost that we should have probably won. There is a lot we can improve on.

Our fielding was really poor. It was the worst that I have seen and it is something we need to work on. The boys need to get fitter. There are boys who have talent with the bat but they didn’t kick on and show it.

I didn’t have a great year personally with injuries and a few other things, so I will come back stronger. Sam Gordon and Aditya are going to Australia during the winter, so hopefully that will improve them as cricketers.

Aditya Adey had a great season, and you have a few other young guys in the squad. Do you think they will only continue to get better?

The point that I’ve been making to the club for years is that it’s important we stay up and aren’t a yo-yo team, which has happened over the years.

Seeing them in their second year in the Premier League, they have improved and you can see it when they are facing the best bowling and best batting.

Sam Gordon has so much talent and got two fifties in the Emerging Knights games, but for us played some silly shots which was down to concentration more than anything.

Adey still needs to improve his bowling. He does pick up wickets but he is still bowling two sides of the wicket and not bowling to a field. There is so much to work on and we are still in the Premier League.

Lisburn are coming up and they are going to be a good side. It isn’t going to be easy next year, but we just have to keep trying to improve.


Aditya Adey

You are consolidated in the Premier League now. Do you feel that the side has improved in 2018?

I do feel we have improved in some senses with Adey and a couple of the other guys standing up and being counted.

Hopefully next year the likes of Sam come along after spending some time in Australia. Our players have the talent and they need to do it in the big league now.

Ashwin (Shetty) came in and got important wickets, and the pro (Fahad Iqbal) was a great find as well, getting close to 700 runs and 28 wickets as well. We couldn’t complain about that.

We probably have improved, but not an awful lot. As I said, our fielding was worse than the year before. Overall, I am happy we stayed up but definitely looking to do better.


Muckamore professional Fahad Iqbal

Looking to 2019, what are the goals?

I said to the boys after the last game on Saturday that it’s great staying up, but next year I want to add a couple of guys to improve the team and add to what we already have and maybe push for a run in the Senior Cup and maybe get to a final.

We have got to a couple of semis in the past years, but it would be great for the club to get to a Senior Cup final.

It’s about us improving every single year. We have consolidated now and if we are improving as a club every year, it’s all you can ask for.

Andre Malan open to CSNI return in 2019

South African professional Andre Malan was one of the standout performers in the NCU last season, scoring 940 runs (four centuries and four fifties) and taking 43 wickets.

The 27-year-old returned to his homeland last month, but he could be potentially making a welcome return next season.

If the Stormont-based side can bring Malan back, they have a great chance of picking up silverware in 2019.

Marc Ellison leads by example at the top of the order, while an array of young stars now have another season under their belt at the top flight.

Here, Malan takes time out of a busy schedule to talk about his first season in Belfast, how special he thinks CSNI is as a club and most importantly of all, if he will be back next year.

How did you find your first season in the NCU?

Very enjoyable. The weather was brilliant and the cricket was of a good level.

I’m sure you’re delighted with how you played personally?

Yes. I wanted to work on some aspects of my game and I am glad with how I progressed throughout the season.

It seemed like you fit in really well at CSNI. Did you enjoy the club?

I did enjoy the club. I made some good friends and the club chairman, Ivan McMinn, is an exceptional human being.

Do you feel they are capable of pushing on and achieving something special?

Yes. Hopefully CSNI can build from this past season and make the right decisions when it comes to crucial aspects of the team and the future of CSNI’s cricket.

Time for the one everyone wants to know: Will you be returning/planning to return in 2019?

Good question. It all depends if CSNI would want me back for another season. We will see how it unfolds.

CIYMS professional Matt McGillivray reflects on his time in the NCU

CIYMS will have a difficult job replacing South African professional Matt McGillivray.

The all-rounder won’t be returning to the NCU in 2019, and signed off with 98* in his final game against Armagh.

He helped the Belmont club win two trophies in his time there, and performed magnificently in both 2017 and 2018.

In his debut season he collected a NCU-high 39 wickets and hit 610 runs at an average of 55.45, while in the most recent campaign he collected 35 wickets alongside his tally of 593 runs.

Here, he speaks about his time with the Premier League champions, his contributions and what the future holds.

How have you found the experience of playing in the NCU?

It’s been great. The standard was a lot higher than what I think I initially expected because the island is pretty small. I thought it was good and very competitive.

CIYMS won the Premier League this year. I’m sure you’re proud to have played a part in that?

It’s always nice coming over as an overseas professional and winning trophies. That was what the club wanted. The ultimate goal is to win competitions, and we have done that. Maybe we haven’t won as many as Waringstown, but we won the Challenge Cup last year and won the league this year, so it has been good.

What is your highlight in your time playing here?

My highlight is probably winning the Challenge Cup in 2017. (It was special) because there is a lot of history behind the trophy and I think the guys were probably disappointed in a lot of our performances last year. So, winning a trophy and beating the best teams in the NCU was quite special for everyone.

You got 39 wickets last season and 35 this season, and pretty much 600 runs in both season. Are you happy with what you contributed?

It’s always nice to contribute. I think I could have probably done a bit better this year. Last year, there weren’t as many guys contributing. If you go through the stats list this year, we have four or five guys on everything. It always helps when the whole team is performing and it doesn’t come down to how well the pro does. If you look at North Down, their pro was unbelievable but they didn’t do much as a team.

Do you think the team is capable of going on to the win the big trophies next year?

Yeah, definitely. They have all the resources and winning this year has proved to the guys who didn’t have the confidence that they are good enough and they are capable of winning every trophy that is up for grabs. I think the most important one is the All-Ireland, and I think they have the confidence now. We lost to Waringstown on the last ball and lost to Merrion in a really close game, so that gives you hope going forward.

What is next for you in a cricket sense? Will you keep playing back home?

This will be my last season playing back home, and then I will hopefully get into a more corporate role somewhere else. I’ve enjoyed coming overseas and met so many great people, but I think it’s time to start settling and get a job where I have a steady income.


CIYMS captain Nigel Jones is on the verge of leading his side to the 2018 Robinson Services Premier League title after a seven wicket win over Waringstown on Saturday.

They have now won 10 league games in a row to sit 12 points clear with only three games to go.

It’s been an exceptional run, so get to know the man who has led them to this point.