- Born 12 January 1951 Carrigullen, Strabane, Co Tyrone
- Educated Strabane High School
- Occupation Electrician later proprietor of Mineral Water business
- Debut 20 June 1970 v Scotland at North Inch, Perth
- Cap Number 519
- Style Right-hand bat; right arm off spin.
- Teams Sion Mills, Eglinton, Donemana, North Fermanagh.
Ray Moan was a very good all round cricketer, who might well be considered most unlucky not to have added to his one Irish cap. As a batsman, he worked his way up the order to become one of the most reliable openers in North West club and interprovincial cricket, while as a bowler, though his powers declined with the passing of the years, he was a high quality off spinner, whose career was littered with three and four wicket hauls, as well as a large number of " 5 fors."
A man of several clubs, he is best remembered as a Sion Mills player with whom the bulk of his career was spent. He was often seen to the best advantage in the NWCU Cup, for example in the 1970 Final against Eglinton. Here on a spinners' wicket, he was the least experienced of the slow men in the match, bowling as he was with John Flood, and having John's long time rival, the great Scott Huey ranged against him. Nevertheless, Ray, who had taken 100 wickets the previous season, was the leading bowler in the match. A second innings haul of 6-29 bringing him overall figures of 10-70.
Thirteen years later, he was still the dominant figure in the Final. Captaining the Villagers, whom he had left to play for Eglinton the previous season - scoring 66 when they met in the League - he won the toss against Ardmore and put on 129 for the first wicket with West Indian professional Mark Harper, making 72 himself. Sion totalled 287-5 and then forced their opponents to follow on, thanks to Ray taking 6-59. Ardmore did rather better in the second innings, setting Sion 120 on a now difficult wicket. Sion lost two quick wickets, and Ray, at 3 this time had "an amazing let off" (Billy Platt), being missed off an easy slip catch. Without further problems, he saw his side home, finishing on 57*.
He also performed well in the controversial Sion cup campaign of 1975. In the second round v Donemana, he had 6-21 and in the semi final v St Johnston, scored a towering 98 to enable his side reach 211 before bowling the Donegal side out for 78. Alas to no avail for Sion had fielded an ineligible player - Brendan Donaghey - and St Johnston progressed to the final, which they went on to win.
Ray was, of course also a force in the NW League, and, when it started in 1982, the Schweppes Cup. One of his best seasons in the former competition was 1975, when he had five 6 wicket hauls, including 6-10 in mid August to bowl Brigade, chasing a moderate 138, out for 53. In the latter competition against Bangor in 1985, he opened the Sion innings facing a useful 187-9. Ray set out his stall to bat through the innings and did so, finishing on an undefeated 74, taking Sion to a four wicket win. Four years later he was again to the fore as Sion travelled to Castle Avenue to take on Clontarf. Partnered by Indian Test man Bobby Rao, destined to become a legend in North West cricket, Ray (89*) and Bobby (73*) helped the visitors post a formidable 245, Clontarf then collapsed for 71.
Ray was also one of the dominant figures in the Interprovincial Championship during his career which spanned much of the tournament's history. In all he scored 2055 runs at 33.68, besides taking 116 wickets at 17.83. As a batsman his aggregate was surpassed only by Ivan Anderson and Ginger O'Brien, while his average was superior to O'Brien's as well as, for example, those of Stephen Warke, Alan Lewis and Jack Short. The only spinners to surpass his 115 wickets were Dermott Monteith and Mike Halliday, his bowling average being just decimal points below the latter's.
He was first prominent as a bowler, batting down the order. Thus in his debut match, as a 17 year old in 1968, he batted at 11, but had 4-41 v South Leinster, including all rounder Joey O'Meara, and very useful tail ender Alan Parker. Then following season, when as already noticed, he had 100 wickets in all matches, he had 7-59 against Ulster Town at Beechgrove, including leading batsmen Jimmy McKelvey and Ian Johnston. Later in the summer in the play off v North Leinster at Sion, he took 6-26 to send the fancied visitors batting line-up pavilionwards for 55, his victims including prolific Clontarf opener Brian Bunworth, as well as Gerry Murphy, then a rising star, and veteran Joe Caprani, famed for his mastery of spin. Another six wicket haul came against Ulster Town at Eglinton in 1977. Batting at no 6, he made a useful 46* to see his side past 200, then took 6-34 to gain an 83 run victory.
As a batsman, he hit four centuries in the competition, his prowess with the bat increasing, as he bowled less in later years. His first hundred came at The Mardyke in 1978. He made 114*, batting through a North West innings of 238-9, before the hosts fell for 139. Eight years, which saw several other very good innings notably 88* v South Leinster at Strabane in 1979 when he helped Clarke Nicholl (160*) post a then record competition total of 282-4, were to elapse before he reached three figures again. Then he made up for lost time.
In 1986, a season in which he totalled 238 runs at 47. 60, he made 115 v North Leinster at Coleraine. The next highest score was Tommy Harpur's 32. A 39 run victory was achieved. The following year he made 107* v North Leinster at Cabra. The hosts had posted a distinctly useful 216-9 in 60 overs, but Ray took his side to an eight wicket victory. His final century came in 1989, his penultimate season in the competition, when he averaged exactly 100. His best innings was 116* v South Leinster at Strabane out of a total of 313-8 in 60 overs. The visitors managed a "backs to the wall" draw, finishing on 112-8.
These performances, with bat and ball, showing such consistency over so many years, have raised questions, far beyond Co Tyrone as to why he did not play more than once for Ireland. His one match was v Scotland at Perth in 1970. After almost two closely contested days, in sub tropical heat, with batsmen dominating, Ireland collapsed on the second evening and third morning and was fortunate to escape with a draw, as the weather broke into thunderstorms. Ray, who did not get a bat in the first innings, was 0* at 10 in the second.
All the Irish bowlers had toiled in the sunshine, Ray with 16 - 4 - 58 - 1, was far from disgraced, taking the wicket of Terry Racionzier, who had a fair career with Sussex, for 10. His fellow off spinning debutant Mike Halliday had 0-32 in 10 overs. The selectors decided to go with Halliday in the future and his subsequent career justifies their decision.
Nevertheless the thought of what might have been remains! Further Ray's successes as a batsman at Interprovincial level, suggest that he might well have been picked again in that role. However it was not to be.
Edward Liddle, April 2009