Paddy O'Hara (CricketEurope), November 2020
Top of the current NIACUS umpires' pecking order, Mark is an outstanding example of what can be achieved in the craft of umpiring if one puts one's mind to it.
It was around the mid 1990's that the NCU launched an urgent appeal for ‘club’ umpires to bolster falling numbers. Cliftonville's “Ayatollah” at the time Roy Millar bluntly informed Mark and Alan Waugh that he was going to nominate them as they were not much good on the playing side and would probably make better umpires than cricketers. How right he was!
Mark has had an exceptional career. Quickly rising through the ranks in Ireland and making quite a name for himself on the International scene. It would take ten times the space available here, to document Mark's world wide umpiring adventures, but I will try to abbreviate it into the limited room provided.
Always keen to advance his career, he volunteered to go on local exchange visits to Leinster, North West and Merseyside. By 2002 he was appointed to the Ireland International panel. This opened further opportunities in ICC Europe, where his first appointment was a ‘last ball nail biter’ between Netherlands v Italy.
By 2007 he was now on the European Elite panel and he umpired tournaments in no fewer than seven countries across the continent. Now established at this elite level, opportunity followed opportunity – ICC World cricket league in Kuwait / Appointed to the ICC A&A International panel.
By 2012 he was in Australia officiating at the U19 World Cup, 2013 the Womens' World Cup in India and the Ireland v England ODI in Malahide.
2017 saw him in Sri Lanka for a Womens' World cup Qualifier, then the next year, 2018, off to New Zealand where he stood in the plate final between Sri Lanka v West Indies in the U19 World Cup.
Later that year he was the TV umpire in Ireland's inaugural Test match v Pakistan, again at Malahide. Oh, and perhaps I left out another exchange visit – not to Leinster this time, but to the West Indies!
All the foregoing and much more, amounts to over 250 appointments, spread over 18 countries and standing with the likes of Simon Taufel, Tony Hill, Ian Gould, Steve Davis and Richard Kettleborough.
“How's That?” for a journey from a lower order 3rd XI Cliftonville batsman to a Test match umpire!
And he is not finished yet.