Women's Cricket in NCU - A work in progress...

This season NCU split the senior ladies cricket into 2 leagues. Premier league consists of established sides (Waringstown, Lurgan, North Down, CSNI and Armagh) while Laurelvale/Clougher, Muckamore and Templepatrick.

The likes of Waringstown and Armagh have been playing with ladies teams for a number of years, but just as friendlies, last year they had just the one division. Everyone plays each other twice, and last year Lurgan beat North Down in the final.

The Under 13 schoolgirls tournament again has more than doubled in size inside 2 years, the 2013 tournament saw 5 teams from 4 schools compete, 2014 saw 8 teams and was won by Wallace, and this year saw 12 teams and was won by Banbridge Academy.

As a result of this, many clubs are seeing larger numbers of girls in their youth set ups, and discussions are ongoing to try and get a few U15 friendlies played. And, hopeful that Donaghcloney and Laurelvale will get one within the next 2 weeks, as we know Templepatrick are keen too.

Provincially this year NCU really got a permanent structure in place, with a winter indoor programme for U17 girls nominated by their clubs, some summer training and a camp day against the NWCU in Bready. From this a further 5 girls were selected to go down on a trial basis to train in Dublin with the aim of getting into the Irish EPP squad.

NCU already have had Naomi Matthews and Hannah Grieve gaining entry into the squad in the past through their own merits and benefits of playing some Saturday cricket with menís teams, and hopefully a permanent structure to the system will help to increase these numbers in the future.

NCU are also in the process of putting together a structure to get a senior ladies provincial team up and running to at least have some squad training and hopefully a game or two against the NWCU before the end of the season.

The hope would be that if they could get a ground with two pitches available these interpro games would be able to be on the same days as the proposed U17 games with the NWCU, although any date and rules for these games is yet to be confirmed.

Coach wise NCU are struggling, as far as Kyle Weir is aware thereís no female level 2 coaches currently in the union, and only a few that have been through the Introductory courses for it. Many of the senior ladies team are struggling to find anyone within their clubs to take sessions with any regularity and are often relying on boyfriends, husbands etc to help with advice if theyíre along at a session and some are just doing nets on their own.

This is something that the union will be looking to address before next season as itís a similar problem within the schools where many of the U13 schools teams are being coached by external Active Community Coaches with no ownership being taken by schools and/or local clubs.