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Edward Liddle's Biographies of Irish Cricketers
John King Dooner
  • Born 26 March 1842 Rathfarnham, Co Dublin
  • Died 10 October 1910 Chiswick, Middlesex
  • Educated Aldenham School
  • Occupation Army Officer
  • Debut 2 September 1869 v United South of England XI at Rathmines
  • Cap Number 134
  • Style Hand unknown
  • Teams Phoenix

John Dooner is, unfortunately, another early Irish cricketer of whom very little is known. He was the son of John Dooner, a member of a prosperous Dublin family and entered the British Army as an Ensign. It is unclear whether he was stationed in Ireland at the time of his solitary appearance for the national side, or was home on leave. He had by this time taken part in the fighting in Waikato during the Maori Wars, a land grabbing episode which was to lead to an apology, almost 150 years later, from Queen Elizabeth to the local Maori population.

Back in Ireland, for whatever reason, John was selected for the Ireland XXII against the United south of England XI which included some of the best players of the day including two outstanding bowlers James Southerton and Edgar Willsher as well as HH Stephenson, an all rounder of high reputation, who had captained the first ever England side to tour Australia some eight years earlier.

The Irish side was chosen, with some advice, by John Lawrence, entrepreneur and publisher - though not compiler - of the Handbook of Cricket in Ireland, who was staging the match. Lawrence, who put up the money to stage the match, was heavily criticised in the local press for the composition of the XXII which was said to rely far too much on English players, briefly in Ireland for military reasons, at the expense of local talent. Either way the side was no match for the USE who only looked frail when chasing a moderate victory target. John was one of the few Irish players to emerge with any distinction from the debacle.

Ireland began by being bowled out for 83 with only two batsmen, R Jones and Frank Young, both of Holyville Park and Dublin University reaching double figures. The latter, one of the best batsmen in Ireland at the time, was batting far too low in the order. John was 0* at No 21. Southerton had 9-66 and Willsher an astonishing 11-13.The visitors then posted 142 with Stephenson topscoring with an undefeated 42. Batting again Ireland made exactly 100, John, still at 21, being one of four double figure scorers, making 11 before he was run out. USE lost 5 wickets in chasing down their target.

John continued his military career, reaching the rank of Major in the 12th Regiment before retiring. He married Emily Blanche Metcham in April 1874, their eldest child John King Patrick Dooner was born in Kinsale, Co Cork, where his father presumably was stationed, the following year. He went on to have a distinguished career as Royal Navy officer, living until 1962. He also had a sister, May, born in 1885. John King Dooner who in the 1891 Census is described as Lieutenant -Colonel in HM Reserve Forces, left 583 in his Will. Probate was granted to May, it would appear that Emily was already deceased.

NB It will be evident from the foregoing that we would welcome more information about JK Dooner concerning any aspect of his life, education, cricket and military.