Edward Liddle (CricketEurope)
David Samuel Kennedy
David Kennedy - often known as Davy or DK - was a very good upper order batsman and, when called upon, a more than useful medium pacer who might, in the opinion of at least one shrewd judge of the game, have developed into a genuine all rounder had circumstances demanded.
Coming from a close knit cricketing family, his three brothers all played senior cricket for Ballymena, he must be considered extremely unlucky to be numbered among Ireland's "One Cap Wonders." A possible reason for what appears a strange selectoral decision is examined below.
David developed his skills for the game at Ballymena Academy, during a vintage time for cricket there, the Ulster Schools Cup being won twice. The astute coaching of Colin Jackson produced a number of top class cricketers including, besides David his brothers Robert and Johnny, players such as Michael and John Glass and Carl Williams, Ballymena stalwarts all. Another useful member of the side was later to gain 72 Irish caps, but in a game played with a larger and different shaped ball. His name was David Humphries.
While studying dentistry at Dundee University, DK was key member of the Scottish Universities side. Thus against the Irish Universities at Hayes in London during the 1995 British and Irish Universities Tournament, he topscored with 41 as Scotland, chasing a total of 258-6 collapsed to 128 all out against the off spin of Kyle McCallan. David escaped Kyle's clutches being dismissed by John Davy - caught McCallan! He was again in form the following season when the Universities played Scotland U 19, making another top score, 75 to help his team to 245-8, setting up a 41 run victory. When the Scots, in his final year in the side - 1997 - eventually defeated Ireland - by 5 wickets - he was there at the finish, undefeated on 38.
Back home in 1998, having embarked upon further studies at Queen's University, David was a standout figure in a memorable season for Ballymena which saw the Eaton Park side win the Senior league title for the first time and reach the semi finals of the NCU Challenge Cup and the Final of the Irish Senior Cup, which was narrowly lost to Strabane, despite a 3rd wicket stand of 51 between David and his elder brother Robert as they seemed to be putting Ballymena on course for the 190 runs target.
David had been seen at his best in the Third Round against Pembroke when his undefeated 70 was a match winning knock, bringing victory by 2 wickets. His batting, widely admired throughout the region, brought him the Larry Warke Cup, his successes being mostly in League matches.
His highest NCU Cup score 36 came in the Quarter Final against Derriaghy and was, indeed, opportune, as Ballymena batting first were dismissed for 158 but squeezed home by 1 run. The ISC in 2000 saw him play two more crucial innings to help Ballymena to the Quarter Finals. In a Second Round match at Malahide, he dominated the hosts' attack to score 82* and bring victory by 7 wickets while in the Third Round replay against Railway Union, he was one of only two batsmen in the match to play with confidence, making 51 out of 143, a total which was to prove enough to bring a 6 run victory, despite a resolute 43 from "Ginger" O'Brien.
Between 2001 and 2003 David also played for the Irish Universities in the Universities' Tournament, proving even more successful than he had for the Scots. In 2001 he contributed largely to an impressive win over the Welsh with 96 out of a score of 245-5 from 50 overs sharing a 4th wicket partnership of 124 with Jonathan Bushe. Wales were then dismissed for 209. David was far from finished with this opposition.
The following season, at Abbeydale Park, Sheffield he made a brilliant 122 from 109 balls in 100 minutes with 20 fours. Andrew White also weighed in with an even more spectacular innings, 95 from 88 balls. At the 50 over mark their side was on 367-4. The Welsh could only reach 143-7 in reply, White taking 3-29. In 2003, back in familiar territory in Edinburgh, David turned his attention to the Scots once more as the Irish Universities chased a useful looking total of 243-6. They began disastrously being 7-2 when David joined White. Together they took the home side's bowling apart to take the Irish to an 8 wickets victory. Facing 121 balls fourteen of which were hit for four, he finished on 101 while White made 121.
Having been, in the words of Derek Scott, "in the selectors' thoughts for some time", he was selected for Ireland v MCC at the Mardyke in August 2002., his worthiness for representative honours having been proved by a half century against the Southern Ireland XI in the Regional Challenge.
Unfortunately rain meant that the match, won by Ireland by 5 wickets, became a somewhat contrived and unsatisfactory affair. The first day was rain restricted, the second a total washout. At the outset of the third both captains agreed to forfeit their second innings. Ireland were left chasing a target of 295 and needed 41 from 49 balls when David came in at No 7. He finished on 13* as victory came without further alarm, having shown his class with two 4s in three balls for West Indies A fast bowler Goldwyn Prince.
Having done nothing wrong, David could justly have expected to be picked again, but it was not to be. He moved to North Down in 2003 in the hopes of furthering his Irish career, particularly as Ballymena had been relegated in 2001. For the next five seasons he showed consistently excellent form and was undoubtedly one of the best batsmen in the NCU area if not in the whole country. He was to continue with the Comber side until the end of the 2007 season, his performances ensuring him a permanent niche in its illustrious history.
Among his many fine performances we may look at the Cup campaign of 2004, a season in which he won the Larry Warke Cup for the second time, thereby becoming the first player to win it at two different clubs. In the Semi Final against Downpatrick at The Meadow, North Down batted first and posted a good looking 250-5 with David leading the way with a fine 119 well supported by Robin Haire (40) in a key partnership worth 117 runs.
Despite some excellent batting by Paul Linehan and Stewart Ferguson, the hosts went down by 4 runs with 3 balls to spare. David's batting had clearly been crucial as it was to prove in the Final. Played at Stormont, this memorable match , which survived some rain interruption, saw ND lead off with a score of 242-4 from their 50 overs, the innings being built around a second wicket stand of 157 between David and Jo Montgomery (72). David went on to a highly praised 105* helped, it must be admitted by two dropped catches. Harlequins replied with 199-9 and then reduced their opponents to 17-3. David, however, was still there and went on to make a dominant 64, putting on 67 for the 4th with Peter Shields . Needing 209 Harlequins succumbed to 138-8 but with Wayne Horwood playing a proverbial captain's innings reached 185-8 before Shields introduced David for a rare appearance at the bowling crease. He took a return catch from Horwood then bowled Neil Black to bring victory by 19 runs. No prizes are offered for guessing the Man of the Match!
We may note here that David appeared in four finals scoring 432 runs at 108.00 with 1 hundred and 4 fifties. His average is, at the time of writing, the best in such matches. His highest score in the Irish Senior Cup also came during his time at The Green against Fox Lodge in 2006. North Down batted first and raced to 315-3 with David dominating the innings. His 114 came from 128 balls and included 13 fours. The North Westerners were then dismissed for 138. North Down progressed to the Semi Final only to lose to Waringstown to whom they were also to lose the League title somewhat controversially.
At the beginning of the 2008 season David rejoined Ballymena, a move which he had always intended to make, the timing helped by the fact that the Club was making a determined push for promotion and that his brother James was captain. He remained at Eaton Park until the end of the 2014 season when a serious finger injury restricted his availability and reduced his effectiveness.
Medical advice was that a further such injury might affect his work as an orthodontist and it was this together with the success of his practice, one of the largest in Northern Ireland, as well as the demands of a young family that caused him to retire from the game earlier than he had intended. Injury also caused Robert, a prominent Belfast surgeon, to leave the game.
During his second spell with the Club, David was a model of consistency, generally averaging in the 30s. His most memorable innings came away to Lurgan at Pollock Park in a rain reduced match in June 2013. Needing 251 in 36 overs they fell 22 runs short of their target despite the Herculean efforts of David who hit a superb undefeated 118 from 98 balls, including 10 fours and 4 sixes.
David's performances were insufficient to win him any further Irish caps. Many observers believe that this was not a cricket decision but emanated from the fact that, a man of strong religious convictions, he refused to play on Sundays.
While it must be admitted that consistency in selection is always necessary, Ireland did have many matches which were not played on Sundays, in some of which he surely deserved a further chance. Typically of the man he never complained.
Away from the cricket field David married Karen Humphries, sister of the Rugby player, and the possessor of over 100 Irish Hockey caps.
David Samuel Kennedy, always widely regarded as one of the nicest men in Irish Cricket, will long be remembered for his elegant batting by cricket followers far beyond Eaton Park and The Green.