|Born||14 March 1923 Gort, Co Galway|
|Died||1 May 2002 Dublin|
|Educated||Belvedere College; Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland|
|Debut||27 July 1957 v Scotland at College Park|
|Style||Right hand bat; slow right arm bowler.|
|History||Kevin Quinn was the youngest of four brothers, all of whom played cricket for Phoenix and Ireland, and one of whom, Gerry, came near to joining Kevin in gaining a rugby cap also. At both Belvedere and Phoenix they were joined in the side by a fifth Quinn, Brendan, a useful bat and hostile pace bowler, but, though a close friend of the brothers, he was unrelated. |
The first sport for which Kevin showed a talent was hurling, there being nothing else to play in Gort. He established a reputation for himself in the oldest of Irish games and, when ten years old and living in Dublin, would travel on his own back to the village to represent the boys' team.
However, though he, like his brothers also showed a talent for football, both Gaelic and Association, once he entered Belvedere, there were only two games for him. An automatic choice for the school's cricket teams, he made his debut for Phoenix in 1938, and soon established himself as an upper order batsman, eventually an opener, and a very good slow left arm bowler, who was said to be the quickest man in Leinster cricket at getting through an over. It was claimed that he started to bowl the next ball before he had delivered the previous one. He was also a safe catch though rumoured to be not above, "taking a nap at short leg." It was alleged that when the four brothers were playing for Phoenix together, they would sometimes turn up with just two cricket bags, but somehow still contrived to appear as though they were fully clothed on the field. Kevin always denied this slander, likewise the one that he turned up to play for Ireland with only one boot!
For Phoenix, however, he scored 4420 runs at 18.49, with a highest score of 102. He also took 485 wickets at 19.05. All this was accomplished while playing 276 matches. His all round skills played a major part in twice bringing the Leinster Senior Cup to the Park. In the 1945 final v Pembroke at Rathmines - no over limit then - he took 3/26 to bowl Pembroke out for 156. Only a young left hander called Bergin played him with any confidence. In 1949 the opposition was provided by Railway Union, who did not have far to travel, the match being at Sydney Parade. Jimmy Boucher did the hat trick, as RU crumbled for 81. The wicket was responsive to spin, but Kevin, batting freely as was his wont, made 54* to see his team home by 9 wickets.
For Ireland he played seven times 1957 - 1959, scoring 171 runs at 15.55, twice passing 40. He also took one wicket. His debut was v Scotland on a wet College Park wicket in 1957. Ireland won convincingly thanks largely to a remarkable spell of bowling by off spinner Frank Fee, who had 9-26 in the first innings and 12 in the match. Kevin was one of the few batsmen on either side to look remotely in control. When Ireland batted first, play starting an hour late on the first morning, he opened with Stanley Bergin, and, though missed early on, made the top score 25 in Ireland's 139 all out.
Chief destroyer of the hosts' batting was off spinner David Livingstone, who had 6-33. He bowled Kevin with the second ball of his unchanged spell. It floated away to the off, then broke back to hit the stumps. However Fee was the master and though Kevin did not repeat his first innings success, victory was assured.
In the next match at Lord's, Ireland batted first and collapsed for 92 against the MCC spinners, "Bomber" Wells, humorist supreme, of Gloucestershire, and the former West Indies leg spinner CB "Bertie" Clarke, like Kevin a medical man. Kevin was one of the only two batsmen to reach double figures. He put on 49 for the second wicket with Cambridge Blue Robin O'Brien (35). Both men batted fluently, but the partnership had an unfortunate ending, when Kevin, forgetting, perhaps, that his partner had not played in the centre for Ireland, called him for an over ambitious single. Kevin himself was leg before to "Bomber" for 23, padding up to one of the few that Wells actually turned. Again Kevin had a second innings failure as Ireland avoided an innings defeat, after a big hundred by former Test opener JG Dewes. MCC won with 7 wickets standing. In the hosts' innings, Kevin took his only wicket for Ireland, dismissing George Downton. George was a useful lower order batsman who played 8 matches for Kent as a wicket keeper. He was accomplished in this department, but not as skilled as his son Paul was to become.
One more match remained that summer v Free Foresters at Rathmines. FF had only one bowler of any pace, JHG Deighton, of Lancashire and Combined Services. He troubled all the Irish batting but the other bowlers were mediocre, The top six Irish batsmen all passed 40, Kevin made an attractive 41, putting on 93 for the first wicket with Bergin, before being caught at the wicket off Deighton. This writer saw the day's play, and, though the main image in the mind is of a strong driving innings by Ray Hunter, Kevin's treatment of John Wolfe Murray, who with three matches for Oxford to his credit was the only FF bowler besides Deighton to have played first class cricket, can still be summoned up in the memory.
Kevin had one more notable innings for Ireland v New Zealand in College Park the following season. This was a one day match ruined by rain, and by the New Zealand captain, JR Reid, killing any chance of a result by leaving Ireland only 115 minutes to get 183. There was, however, some attractive stroke play. Memory fades after half a century, but the image of Kevin cover driving the veteran pace bowler John Hayes remains as fresh in the mind as it was on that showery July afternoon. He made 43, before being stumped off leg spinner Alec Moir. He had put on 55 for the third wicket with Paddy Neville, who finished the drawn match on 50*.
Unavailability prevented Kevin from playing again that season after a failure in the Scotland match, a fate that was repeated in 1959. That summer also he played against Leicestershire at Grace Road. Here Ireland, after a good innings from Mike Stevenson, were overcome, with Kevin failing twice, falling to the pace of Terry Spencer, one of the best bowlers not to win an England cap. Terry played in the Test Trial of 1953, but he was a fast bowler of the same generation as Trueman, Statham, Tyson and Loader! Kevin was not asked to play for Ireland again.
As a rugby player he was, of course, a member of Belvedere's cup sides and moved automatically into the senior ranks with Old Belvedere on leaving school. He played - with his brother Gerry - in war time matches for Ireland v The British Army and also in the 1945/46 Victory Internationals. He went on to win 5 full caps in the centre, a penalty against Australia in 1947 his sole score. Kevin Joseph Quinn, a popular and modest man, who would never talk of his achievements even to his own family, was a fine all round sportsman. His obituary is In Wisden 2003.
Edward Liddle, March 2009
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