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Biography
Acheson William Blake Kelly
  • Born 5 August 1903 Dublin
  • Died 6 October 1961 St Martin's Hospital, Combe Down, Bath, Somerset
  • Educated Stonyhurst College, Lancashire; Clongowes Wood College; Dublin University
  • Occupation
  • Debut 10 July 1926 v Scotland at Glenpark, Greenock
  • Cap Number 345
  • Style Right hand bat; right arm medium pace.
  • Teams Dublin University, Phoenix

Achey Kelly came from a family rich in cricketing heritage and ability. His father was GWF - Gus - Kelly, fast bowler and hard hitting lower order batsman, who won 19 Irish caps and an Oxford Blue before the First World War. Then there was Achey's Uncle Dan, AD Comyn swashbuckling Dublin University, Phoenix and Ireland opener of late Victorian and early Edwardian times. Dan's two brothers were also batsmen cast in the same mould, but careers in the military on one hand, and the colonial service on the other lost them to Irish cricket. Lastly, there was Brother Noel - GNB - Kelly, a cricketer cast very much in Gus's mould, but a rather better batsman, who preceded Achey into the University and Irish XIs.

Achey himself was a sound middle order batsman, capable of the family attribute of fast scoring, and also a useful medium pacer, though he did not rival his father or brother in bowling ability. A cricketer since his early childhood, he nurtured his skills on the bleak Lancashire moorlands, while attending Stonyhurst, before moving to the more pastoral climes, and better wickets, of Clongowes. Whether this move was occasioned by War or by Gus, who himself attended no less than four schools in his teens, deciding that his son would also benefit from a peripatetic education, is unknown.

Entering Dublin University in autumn 1921, Achey gained his place in the XI in 1923, and was four years in the side. In all matches he scored 1563 runs at 22.26 with a highest score of 140. This hundred was made in the Senior League in an away match against Phoenix. including 9 sixes, a Club record, and 15 fours. He hit three other 50s thatseason and headed the University averages, carrying off the Marchant Cup with 469 runs at 56.11.

He began the 1924 season in some style, batting at 3, with 96 - run out! - against Civil Service early in the season, before holding two catches to send the Park side crashing to defeat. However his best all round performances were reserved for 1926. Against Phoenix in College Park, he made a brisk 58, before taking 5-80 including top order batsmen in Wilfred Hutton and Cyril Buttenshaw, who share the unenviable distinction of having been selected for Ireland as batsmen, but having not got to wicket. Achey also played a few matches for Phoenix in this competition, without conspicuous success. He appeared in three first class matches for the University against Northamptonshire. By the mid 1920s, the University XI was no longer capable of taking on major opposition on level terms, and, though the opposition was one of the weaker sides in the County Championship, three one sided matches resulted in innings defeats for Achey and his team-mates.

He, however, was one of the more successful performers. In 1924, playing at Rushden, he batted at 9 in the first innings and made the second top score, 27, enabling his side to stage a partial recovery and total 175, before being caught off the left arm seamer Christopher Addis. He led the struggle to avoid an innings second time around, top scoring with 35, having been promoted to No 5. He was eventually out, caught off Northant's captain and all rounder Vallance Jupp, a good all rounder, whose private life was even more vivid than his colourful and varied cricket career. The following year, at the county ground, Achey had, again, one of the better performances, a first innings 25 being followed by taking 3-29, two from the middle order. However his showing in College Park in 1926, the last such fixture that the University played there, is - like those of most of his team-mates, best passed over.

Achey's sole match for Ireland came against Scotland at Greenock in 1926. It was a match that he and most of the Irish side probably wished to forget.

Only Ireland's openers Mark Sugden and James Macdonald, and Achey's fellow debutant JRH Peacocke showed much skill in dealing with the varied attack of the hosts, who won by an innings and 149 runs. Batting fourth wicket down, Achey fell to leg spinner Alex Forrester in both innings, caught for 16 in the first and bowled for 3 in the second. Acheson William Blake Kelly did not appear much in Irish cricket after that season. This must be seen as somewhat of a pity, for though he lacked the consistency that marks the really good or outstanding cricketer, he had done enough for the University, even at first class level, to show that he could have been a valuable member of the Irish XI for several seasons to come.

Edward Liddle, April 2008, updated July 2014

International Matches
View Match Scotland beat Ireland by an innings and 147 runs (3 Day, Greenock, 10 July 1926)