Paul Wallace, a good left arm opening bowler, and more than useful lower order batsman, is probably unlucky to be ranked among Ireland's "one cap wonders." While the highlight of his career is often seen as having led St Johnston to a somewhat unexpected triumph in the 1987 Irish Senior Cup, he had numerous fine performances to his credit at club level, was also an effective bowler for the North West in interprovincial matches and, in a non-cap match for Ireland performed well against overseas first class opposition.
A prominent cricketer at youth level, his bowling was one of the main reasons for the North West winning the U19 Esso Cup in 1981, having gone through the tournament undefeated. A crucial performance was his 3-36 against Ulster Country at Eglinton, when the hosts won a closely fought match by 2 wickets. He was also a member of the Ireland U 19 side in the Youth International Tournaments of 1979 in Canada and 1981 in Denmark. In the former year, Ireland, under the highly praised captaincy of Brian Gilmore, reached the Final before losing to Bermuda by 3 wickets.
Paul proved well worth his place in a side which also included Jim Patterson, Mark Cohen, Davy Dennison and, like Paul one of the younger members of the team, Jimmy Kirkwood. His best match was undoubtedly that against England North, when his all-round performance had much to do with Ireland's first win over an England side in three tournaments. Batting first, Ireland reached 188-5 off their allocated overs with Paul and Peter Coghlan taking part in an unbroken 7th wicket stand of 47 to ensure that a competitive total was reached. A feature of this partnership was that he last 27 runs, from the final 4 overs, were all run in a heat of 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Then as England, having at one stage been reduced to 9-3 thanks to Jim Patterson, recovered Paul took 3 quick wickets to bring about a 50 runs victory.
Paul's club cricket was, of course, played for St Johnston and Brigade. As a 16year old he had a memorable part in St Johnston winning the North West Senior Cup with an innings victory over Strabane. The Donegal side had begun with a challenging total of 247, which would have been considerably more but for a clever spell of bowling from Aubrey Finlay. However Strabane's first innings reply faltered as Paul (5-33) and David Rankin (5-32) shot them out for 88. Paul captured the valuable wicket of opener Peter Gillespie, before disposing of the lower middle order and tail. He again played a prominent role in a Cup Final win over the same opponents four years later, when after a century from Ian Rankin had seen St Johnston post a total of 307-6, he had match figures of 6-78. His first innings haul of 4-47 again included Gillespie. Victorious by an innings and 65 runs, the Donegal team owed much to their paceman.
He was captain of the Club when, a great side in decline, they won the ISC in 1987. His leadership was a key factor during the tournament which he and his team-mates had faced with an attitude of "It's now or never", key players from the past few years having retired or moved on. Their success was all the more remarkable as they played all their matches away from home. Paul's best performance came against the fancied YMCA side early in the competition when, after the scheduled encounter in Co Donegal had been washed out the Foylesiders travelled to Claremont Road and won by 57 runs, with Paul taking 3-10. They had narrow wins over Donemana (1 run) and Railway Union (5 runs) but few doubted that they were worthy winners of the Schweppes Cup, when, after a rain restricted match, Paul, lifted the Cup, his side having won by 7 wickets.
Ironically, Paul was in the colours of Brigade when he made his next contribution of note in a Cup Final as the Beechgrove side pulled off a two wickets win over Eglinton in 1991, despite Herculean efforts with the bat by Paul's name sake Hendy Wallace and a fine all round performance by Nigel Thompson. Eglinton had gained a first innings lead of 44 but Paul and his captain William Wilson took 3 wickets each, Pauls costing 23 and including the valued scalp of Ivan McMichael. This left a far from easy task but ultimately, after a mid-order collapse, Brigade squeezed home.
Paul also did good work for North West in Senior Interprovincials, starting with 2-7 against Munster in 1980 as the South Easterners, bowled out for 37 were defeated by 10 wickets. He was again impressive against the same opponents at Beechgrove six years later when he had 3-38, helping to dismiss them for 107 and set up a win by 6 wickets.
Better figures came in the competition came against sterner opposition. Thus at Strabane in 1988, he turned in a performance which, no doubt, helped him to gain his solitary international cap. With William Wilson making 96 and Allan Rutherford 110, North West were able to declare at 272-4 then Paul, easily the most successful bowler of the day had 5-28 as the visitors just hung on for a draw thanks to Brian Gilmore and the left handed Neil Taylor. A year later, he was again on top form, this time against South Leinster at Strabane. After NW had scored 303-8, with prolific all-rounder Ray Moan making an undefeated 116 and Nigel Thompson 60, Paul removed the top three batsmen, including the two Marks, Cohen and Nulty, besides taking one more to finish with figures of 14-7-34-4, but the visitors just held out to draw the match.
Paul's sole Irish cap came, as a late replacement, against Scotland at Dumfries in August 1988. It was the 100th Anniversary of the first match between the two sides, and saw Ireland outplayed to the tune of an innings and 43 runs. Put in on a good wicket, the hosts never looked back and all the Irish bowlers suffered. Opening the bowling with Alan Nelson, Paul, whose figured were 25-5-91-2, at least had the satisfaction of removing Scotland's centurion Bruce Patterson whose score of exactly 100 took 200 balls. Patterson was to go on to score over 4000 runs for Scotland, a rather large number of them at Ireland's expense. Paul would probably have agreed with Derek Scott who commented in Wisden that Dumfries was a nice little town which the Irish team would not mind if they never saw again.
Paul was never to play in a cap match for Ireland again. However he did appear for an Ireland XI in a two day non cap, match against Mashonaland at Phoenix CC in 1989. The visitors proved too strong but he had the satisfaction of achieving Ireland's best bowling figures with 20-6-77-3 in the first innings, including the wicket of Grant Paterson, who had been a member of the Zimbabwe side which, under the captaincy of Duncan Fletcher had beaten Australia in a group match in the 1983 World Cup.
These figures and his consistency at club and interprovincial level surely make the case that, as suggested at the outset of this profile, Paul Wallace was indeed unfortunate to have been discarded after winning a solitary cap.
- Born 4 May 1962 Londonderry
- Educated Templemore Secondary School
- Occupation Owner Cottage Conservatories
- Debut 20 August 1962 v Scotland at Nunholm, Dumfries
- Cap Number 568
- Style Right-hand bat, left arm fast medium
- Teams St Johnston, Brigade
Edward Liddle, April 2013,