A member of the government party in the Republic has urged the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross TD, to support the efforts of Cricket Ireland to build a permanent stadium in Malahide.

Speaking in the Seanad yesterday during a debate on sport, Fine Gael Senator Neale Richmond said: "Irish cricket is riding a wave of momentum at the moment. However, it is vital that the Government plays its part in securing the long term success of Ireland's fastest growing sport.

"Over the past decade, cricket in Ireland has been transformed with success for both the Women’s and Men's teams at International level being matched by huge numbers taking up the game across Ireland with serious enthusiasm in our growing minority communities.

"As it stands, the senior men's team are on the verge of achieving Test match status, the highest possible level in the sport, following a number of impressive performances at various World Cups and in one off matches. In addition the women’s senior team have moved into the Super Six stages of their international competition.

"On an annual basis, Irish underage cricket teams are recording ever better results as the domestic game also improves in terms of standard and organisation. This is allowing more and more players to play the game full- time in Ireland.

"For so long, cricket was seen as a hidden sport in Ireland, but with over 50,000 men and women as well as boys and girls now playing the sport, it has moved far beyond its traditional heartlands in North County Dublin, parts of Ulster and Dublin 4.

"Cricket Ireland has done much to prepare the sport to move forward with the signing of a huge deal to develop a top rate practice facility in Abbotstown, that will be the envy of many tier one cricketing nations. Now it is time for the Government to step in to help the sport fulfil its true potential with the construction of a permanent facility of a stadium.

"With much of the financing agreed with the Local Authority, the International Cricket Council and private sponsors, the remainder must be provided by Central Government. A Capital investment of this nature would be huge for developing greater levels of participation in sport; boosting the tourism product on offer in Dublin and allowing Ireland's fastest growing sport to continue to grow.

"A National Stadium is vital for Irish cricket and now is the time for the Government to commit to this."