- Born Unknown
- Died Unknown
- Educated St Patrick's Carlow College
- Debut 22 June 1868 v All England XI at College Park
- Cap Number 117
- Style Right hand batsman, right arm fast round arm bowler
- Teams Carlow, Leinster
John O'Mara was a good all round cricketer. An upper order batsman, capable of brilliant and devastating stroke play he was prone to lose his wicket through over confidence. He was also a round armer of some pace. In both disciplines he was one of the handful of Irish players of the time able to make something of a showing against the English professional XIs and the leading amateurs of I Zingari.
John made his name as a cricketer at Carlow College an institution founded both as a seminary and for the layity. The latter, who were mostly from well connected families, were the dominant part of the College at the time and cricket and rugby were the major sports. Later the College was to take on a more nationalist tone. John was well established in the Carlow club also, having a fine innings against a strong Na Shuler side in a two-day match in 1868. Playing sixteen, including not only their own professional Pat Dooley but also the better known Peter Doyle, Carlow born but a Phoenix man, they totalled 189. This was mostly due to John, who hit what was described as a "brilliant" 93. The two professionals then bowled the Shulers out twice to record a fine innings victory.
The following year, by now a fully fledged Irish international, John and his brother Frank (shown in Scores and Biographies as T O'Mara) were two of only three double figure scores as a combined Wicklow, Wexford and Carlow side was outplayed by I Zingari but managed to hold on for a draw. John made13 and Frank 10, but all the Carlow batsman were perplexed by the slow underarmer Osbert Mordaunt who had already troubled the full Irish side in the match at the Vice Regal Ground.
John played five matches for Ireland over the1868 and 1869 seasons. Four of them will not be found in his statistics on this site as the matches concerned were not 11 a side. However full scores and reports may be found by following the links on the Statszone.
John's Irish debut came against the mighty All England XI at College Park in June 1868. In company with most of his team-mates he failed in the first innings, falling to the slow lobs of former paceman Robert Tinley for 2 as Ireland collapsed for 84. However after the visitors had totalled 184, John - and Ireland - did better in their second innings. Attacking the bowling as though he were playing at Carlow's Tinney Park and sharing a useful partnership with NICC all rounder Charles Stelfox, he played what was generally seen as the most attractive knock of the match, but having made a brilliant cameo 24, threw his wicket away with a rash shot against fast roundarmer James Shaw, who was, incidentally, generally seen as the worst batsman in first class cricket at the time.
John's one other innings of note came in the IZ match the following season, when he made his highest score for the national side on his final appearance. Despite the fine bowling of Mordaunt, already referred to, he made a second innings 26 which put Ireland in this twelve a side match in a strong position to force a win. However IZ needing 174 just held out at 98-10!
John was also, as noted above, a very useful fast round arm bowler. He showed this skill to good effect at Rathmines against the United South of England XI in 1868. He failed twice with the bat in this match, the wiles of Edgar Wilsher being too much for most of the Irish batsmen, but having taken 2-9 in the first innings, opened the attack when the professionals began their second innings needing 44 to win. It was a pity that they did not need 104. John working up a real pace, made the ball fly off a difficult wicket and finished with the excellent figured of 16-11-17-4. Even though Ireland had all 22 players on the field and bowled four ball overs, this was a remarkable feat.
Edward Liddle, January 2012