Paddy O'Hara (CricketEurope), December 2020
NIACUS' other current ICC International panel umpire is Alan Neill – a very contrasting personality to Mark Hawthorne.
For starters Alan was an excellent cricketer, playing at the top level of club cricket for Downpatrick, Cliftonville and Ballymena and at representative level for both Ulster Country, and Ulster Town in the old Guinness Cup competition. Perhaps a tad unfortunate not to make the final step up!
Umpires in our club cricket are not always well regarded by the players and it was a great fillip for NIACUS when high profile personalities swapped their whites for a white coat. Poachers turned gamekeepers – if you like. Alan was certainly one of those.
There have been former Irish players in our ranks, Walter Fawcett and presently Chris Harte. Roy Harrison and Ian Johnston flirted with the job for a short time but decided it was not for them . However, having recognised personalities like these men in NIACUS, does a great deal to raise the Association's status and respect within the cricketing community.
Alan's contribution to NIACUS has been immense, not just his tremendous on-field achievements, but the fact that he has, and is, giving 100% to the ongoing management and success of the Association.
He has represented NIACUS on the NCU development directorate, been Chair of the Association, he is the lead umpire tutor in both the NCU area and IACUS, and finally a past captain of our White Stick trophy team. Is there anything this man cannot do? Yes – avoid him at all costs at social occasions, his jokes are awful!
Like his colleague Mark he has an impressive list of umpiring achievements on his CV. Far too many to list in detail but including to date - locally, four Challenge Cup finals, three Irish Cup finals. Moving through the various Umpire panels – European Development, European Elite and ICC A&A panel (now the ICC International panel).
Approaching 150 International Appointments from Malahide across Europe and to the National Stadium in Dubai for a T/20 final Ireland v Afghanastan. Perhaps a unique record in World cricket giving a ‘hat trick' of LBW's in the Womens' Ireland v Bangladesh International, and watching New Zealand rack up 491 for 4 in 50 overs against Ireland - definitely a world record. Tired arms after that one!
Culminating with the ‘Holy Grail’, Ireland's inaugural test match versus Pakistan. The officials team being C Broad - referee, on –field umpires N Llong and R Illingworth, 3rd. umpire Alan Neill, TV umpire M.Hawthorne.