Barry Chambers (CricketEurope)
Cormac McLoughlin-Gavin turns 27 this week, and a perfect present for him would be a run-filled season with Munster Reds in the Interprovincial campaign.
An elegant top-order batsman, the Dubliner has somewhat flown under the radar in recent years, but this could well be the year that his undoubted talent shines through.
ďIíve been working very hard on my game this past three or four years behind the scenes, putting everything into it. I went and played in the UK for a season which did me a lot of good, and also spent time in Australia too,Ē he began.
ďWe had a great year at Richmond in the Middlesex Premier League, where we did the league and cup double, and Iíd like to think I played a major part in that. I scored runs but just missed out on the chance to be the first Irish centurion for them, with my top score of 96.
ďI also went straight after to Australia where I played country cricket in North Sydney. That was just after Iíd completed my studies. I had a great time there and it was a wonderful experience, broadening my cricketing horizons. It was an ideal way to spend the winter, keeping my cricket going and enjoying what Australia had to offer.
ďI was playing almost continuously for two years and scoring runs, but it was very much a case of out of sight out of mind, and shows if you are out of the set-up it can go unnoticed. Iím not one to shout about being hard done by. While it may have taken me a bit longer than I would have liked, Iím certainly happy at how my game has progressed over the past number of years.Ē
McLoughlin-Gavin played for Ireland at youth level, but made sure he didnít have all his eggs in one basket and concentrated hard on attaining educational qualifications.
ďMy mother was a big influence and she rightly always stressed the importance of a quality education to have in the locker. I now have a Masters Degree in Sports Psychology, and that is something certainly that has helped me apply myself over the past few years.Ē
Runs for Cormac McLoughlin-Gavin (Pic Joe Curtis)
After an impressive 86 in his second game with Leinster Lightning, The Hillsí man saw his opportunities limited in such a strong squad full of senior internationals. Heís since played with Munster Reds and is once again in their ranks for the forthcoming games.
He doesnít see the switch as a slight on his ability, but an opportunity to show what he can do.
ďYou canít go with an attitude that as I said earlier youíve been hard done by. Leinster have got so many talented players and itís a tough environment to break in to. If youíre not getting picked for Leinster itís up to me to prove them wrong, work harder, score runs with Munster and be so good that you canít be left out.Ē
There are twice as many opportunities for McLoughlin-Gavin and his Munster team mates, as they participate in the 50-overs competition for the first time. Will it be hard for the team to bond given the nature of how the squad has been thrown together?
ďThatís how it may look from the outside but there are a group of us who know each other really well having grown up together in Leinster cricket. I know the skipper TK (Tyrone Kane) very well, and a lot of the others from just being around the circuit.
ďIím confident with the type of players and leaders we have in the group that we will bond. Thereís a lot of hard-working, talented guys there, and if we put our heads down Iím sure we will gel.Ē
Munster will go into the competition as underdogs, but with the quality in their squad, it shouldnít be too big of a shock if they upset the big boys.
The Hills openers Cormac McLoughlin-Gavin and Mark Donegan
ďThereís a quiet confidence in the squad. With TK, Curtis Campher and Gareth Delany coming in, thatís three quality players who are going to really boost our strength and depth.
ďThere are also a few younger players who maybe because Leinster were so strong havenít got the chance to show their ability and what they are about, so itís a great platform for everyone.Ē
Munster Head Coach Ted Williamson is a familiar face for Cormac, having worked with him as a young player.
ďI know Ted very well. He would have worked on a lot of one-to-one sessions with me when I was 13 or 14 in the Irish youth set-up. He has always been someone who has been really supportive of me.
ďYou can tell Munster is really his passion. I know Iím something of a Ďblow-iní but Iíve always believed in having pride in the place where youíre playing and Iíll certainly be doing that when I pull on the red jersey. Iím looking forward to giving everything I have to that region and the supporters down there.Ē
Joe Doherty presents MOM Award in Irish Cup final to Cormac McLoughlin-Gavin
With 27 candles going on the cake on Friday, is there a feeling that if he has higher ambitions, this is potentially a make or break year for him?
ďI donít believe you can put that much pressure on yourself. The game is hard enough without adding to it. I feel that Iím coming into what is the prime years of my career. I know my game inside out, Iíve worked hard on my fitness during lockdown, and I feel Iím doing the right things and have improved year on year. Thatís all you can do, focus on getting better and hopefully things will take of themselves.Ē
On the club front, he will once again be at Milverton, playing for The Hills, at a ground and environment he loves.
ďIt will be great when the season gets going again there. Since I came there itís been fantastic and thereís not many better places to play cricket. We have a lot of young guys coming through so I guess itís fair to say we are a team in transition. Those young players are still trying to figure out their strengths and weaknesses.
ďWe have a great leader in Tomas Rooney-Murphy, and itís going to be a case of taking it one game at a time, enjoying it, improving where we can, and see where the season goes. We always pride ourselves on being tough opponents, and Iíd like to think that will again be the case this year.Ē
The cricket season will bring a sense of relief for him as for the last six months he has been working full-time for the HSE (Health Service Executive) as a Psychologist.
ďItís been a tough time for everyone with lockdowns but hopefully there are brighter times ahead.
Cormac with his mother after winning Irish Senior Cup Final
ďIíve been talking to people who have juggled careers with their cricket, getting to know how they have managed the balance. Iíve got some good people around me who have given me sound advice.
ďThe work is a welcome distraction from cricket and vice-versa. I donít get too overly stressed on my game, and itís a positive that I have a full-time job and the safety it brings.Ē
Munster Reds first match in the 2021 season has them making the trek to the North West to play the Warriors on Thursday May 6th, with action at Eglinton getting under way at 10:45am.