1988 Carlisle win and captain attempts to kill teammates

If Trinity had been so close to being the story of 1987, they sought to consolidate in 1988 when Peter O’Reilly and Conor Hoey joined an already strong squad for the season. It began a relationship with the club which is still active to date with both of their sons Mikey and Gavin mainstays of the current Trinity team.  

Indeed Conor has been known to still turn out when required and of course perform with the commitment that is genetically programmed in the Hoey genes.  In recording these additions to the Trinity squad, Sean Pender in The Irish Times bemoaned an injury to Michael Rea, acquired while playing rugby.  I don't know who Sean thought that he was kidding but no one believed that Michael was injured playing rugby. Yes, he played rugby. Parkmore were the lucky club that availed of his services at out half but to be injured, nay don’t believe it.  

Another topic that Sean raised was the purchase by the Northern Cricket Union of a bowling machine.  It was noted that while there were two such machines in the Leinster region, one was owned by a club, Carlisle while the other was in private ownership. That one was the property of Mark Nulty and resided in his back garden. Mark’s Dad Basil had purchased the machine years earlier. Many of Mark’s peers were envious that Mark had a net in his garden nevermind a bowling machine.  I speak with personal insight.  It took many a year before Clontarf purchased such a machine, after all, as the late Podge Hughes would boast, in himself didn't they already have a bowling machine?

More locally, Clontarf’s Noel Grier retired. His career had begun in 1966 when Vinny Savino gave him a chance as a 15 year old bowler.  He made his name in due course as a stylish left hander while his off spinners were always a handy option and a terrific fielder as well.  The captaincy of the club also changed hands with the reigns passing to the youthful Alan McClean. The changing of the guard was in full flow.

1988 was a significant year as it marked the Millennium of the Viking founding of Dublin city.  Well that was what Dublin Council decided anyway despite the fact that the Viking conquest took place in 989 but who's counting. We all got a nice milk bottle from our local dairy, many still have them (guilty). Clontarf decided to honour the occasion by hosting a celebrity cricket game. It is appropriate that Clontarf fell in with the slightly arbitrary date of the millennium since then our founding date, 1876, is one which is subject to query. Clontarf Football club, the sister club has documentary proof of their  founding in that year but the cricket club, or a cricket club of the same name, had been operating in the 1860s. Who knows and does it really matter, probably not.

Using the connections of the club’s President that year, Michael Carroll, who worked in RTE, a number of what were celebrities in 1988 came out to play for the Sports Stars XI.  Henry Kelly a presenter on TV shows Game for a Laugh and Going for Gold was the star attraction while Indian legend Farook Engineer and Pakistan’s Younis Ahmed were the high profile cricketers. English rugby player Roger Uttley found his way too.

Tony Ward and Jim Glennon represented Irish rugby while local legends Dick Hooper (Olympic athlete) and Brian Mullins (Dublin GAA football) added local interest to the occasion. Brian was no stranger to the cricket club, not only did his brother, Declan, play a lot of first and second team cricket but Brian himself was a very talented player before the lure of summers in Croke Park won the battle for his sporting ambition.  It was a great occasion, enjoyed by a decent sized crowd most of whom would not normally find their way to Castle Avenue.

Farouk Engineer mets Lord Mayor Sean Dublin Bay Lofus (yes that's his real name)

Henry Kelly and Farouk Engineer 

It was also the year that my brother, Peter got married to Sue.  Sue was from Gorey so the wedding was there and the reception in nearby Courtown.  It was a great day.  Showing great insight, they organised their big day on one of the few Saturdays when the First XI had no fixture, they did however have one on the Sunday, an away day against Old Belvedere in Cabra.  Somehow, Mighty McClean got himself an invite to the wedding and he undertook to drive, meaning that the three First team players at the wedding (himself, David Fleming, a long time friend of Peter, and myself) would safely get to the Navan Road on time for the game.  In theory it sounds fine, however, overnight, Mighty got a puncture in his car so had to change the wheel.  Repairs sorted, off we set on the 122km trip back to Raheny where we would collect our kit before heading to the game.  

Very quickly we noted a rattling. Now, hands up, none of us are particularly mechanically minded, but we knew something was off.  We made a great effort in trying to locate just where the problem lay,  Flemo even went to the trouble of lying on the road as Mighty drove towards him to see if he could spot anything.  Amazingly, nothing seemed amiss, according to Flemo, so on we went, all 122ks while the rattling continued. Back home, I was dropped off and half an hour later Mighty returned to set off for our game.  “Problem sorted” he told me. His Dad, Jim had a look while Mighty got his bag sorted.  More clued in than his son, Jim spotted (immediately) that the wheel nuts seemed loose, not just that, when he touched them they were red hot and just about to fall off.  After the wheel change in Courtown, Mighty had omitted to tighten the wheel nuts. Oh dear, what might have been.

Still, back to the serious business and the game.   Unperturbed by the morning drama, McClean went and scored his debut senior hundred in setting Belvo 230 to win. Now that is a very good score in Cabra but while missing their Trinity duo of Peter O’Reilly and Johnny McGrath, Belvo were still a very good side. Nick and John Prior were the main batters, Con McGrath, Johnny’s brother opened the bowling not just for his club but for his province, while Fintan Synnott provided the guile with his off spin.  Add in two talented O’Riordan cousins, Paul and David, David Tucker and the youthful wicket keeper/batsman Anto Canavan, this was very much a game.  Perhaps not surprisingly it was John Prior who was the main man in the chase but despite 114 from his bat, the seven wickets shared by Brian McNiece and Paul McCready made sure that full points came back with us.  

The Irish Times headline the following day read “The longest day and the greatest day”, it seemed to sum things up quite nicely.  Unfortunately, the headline was not over the cricket scores but over the football result from the European Championships in Stuttgart where Ray Houghton’s goal for Ireland ensured a 1 nil win over England.  The football was on at the same time as our game, we saw nothing of it.  From Cumiskey’s pub at the end of the Cabra ground, we heard a roar but it was only later we understood the significance. No one had chosen to watch cricket over football that Sunday.  

Away from the confines of Dublin 3, Carlisle won the Leinster Senior League for the first time in their 19 years as a senior club.  Marc Cohen was unsurprisingly a huge influence on their season, scoring just under 1000 league and cup runs, while Angus Fraser (from South Africa not Middlesex) also had a good season.  David Starkey who would later play with great success in YMCA took plenty of wickets while the Molins brothers (Rodney and Stephen) were consistent as ever.  Any league success needs a team effort and Carlisle’s victory was very much one for the team.  In the Senior Cup, guess what? YMCA won that…..again, beating Railway in the final.

Clontarf continued their fine record in the Wiggins Teape, qualifying for the final against the home side Malahide.  And won it too, however it has to be admitted, there was a large dose of good fortune attached to the victory.  The original date for the final was 10th September and at 58 for 8 off 30 of the allotted over, Malahide captain David Martin must have been delighted with his bowlers the every dependable Tom O'Neill and Alan Hughes).  

However, the rain came and never went away, meaning that the 4 wickets each from the pair would count for nothing when the games replayed 7 days later.  Even worse for poor David was that he would not play in the refixed final as his holidays were booked. But without their leader, Malahide began just as they had left off the previous week and Clontarf were reeling at 37 for 4.

However, Tony Karam, a young South African over in North Dublin for the summer came to the rescue with an attacking innings of 61.  However the total of 135 was far from imposing and Malahide must have felt confident. The chase started poorly and at 40 for 5 the pendulum had swung back to the visitors.  John, The Brush, Morgan dug in with Damian Ryan, but despite a last wicket partnership of 27 between Alan Hughes and Alan Brophy, the trophy went to Clontarf and their young captain Alan McClean.  

Tony Karam with 4 wickets made it a great way to end his stay in Ireland.  Leaving the playing area, hugely relieved, McClean was mobbed by alicadoo Des O’Leary who had been put through some heart stopping dramas in the previous two weeks.  Win lose or draw Des’s support was unconditional but he had been put through the wringer and was thrilled.

Tony Karam in Merrion