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Edward Liddle's Biographies of Irish Cricketers
George Comeford Green
  • Born 1863 Dublin
  • Died 7 February 1940 Herberton, Blackrock, Co Dublin
  • Educated St Stanislaus Collge,Tullabeg; Dublin University
  • Occupation Barrister, University Professor, County Court Judge
  • Debut 12 September 1892 v Canada at Toronto CC
  • Cap Number 219
  • Style Right-hand batsman; slow right arm
  • Teams Dublin University, Phoenix, Cork County.

George Green was one of the eight children of John Sullivan Green, QC of Cork and Leeson Street Dublin and Anna Comeford, who numbered among her forbears an Army officer, captured by the French at the "Races of Castlebar." George was educated at St Stanislaus College, a Jesuit institution, which had begun life as a prep school for Clongowes Wood College, but had developed into its rival.

Thanks to an energetic Rector, Father Delaney, a cricketing German Jesuit, Father Wisthoff and an alcoholic one-eyed groundsman Brian Spollen, it had superb cricket facilities, with Na Shuler and Phoenix being amongst its regular visitors. Not only George, but the young Jack Meldon, received their grounding in the game there. In 1886, the two schools amalgamated, and the hugely regarded ground at Clongowes owes much to the fact that Wisthoff and Spollen were part of the deal. So was Meldon, by then in his prime as a schoolboy cricketer.

Pat Hone played with George late in the latter's career and described him thus, "A steady and reliable batsman but his bowling, was, by then not taken seriously by himself or anyone else." In fact George clearly had the knack of picking up useful wickets, having it would seem a "golden arm." He could also run through weak sides. It seems likely that, as his years advanced, he let his bowling go, and it was at this stage, when he was in his mid to late 40s, that Hone would have mostly played with him.

George entered Dublin University in 1880 and was in the 2nd XI in 1883, before establishing himself in the 1st XI from 1884. One of his first matches of any importance was against the touring Gentlemen of Philadelphia side early in June. The match was drawn in the hosts favour, but George, opening with future fellow judge JW Hynes had a double failure, though he began his practice of being dismissed by interesting cricketers. Thus in the first innings he was bowled by paceman Sutherland Law for 2, while in the second Law caught him off FE Brewster for 6. Law was one of the best all rounders ever to play in American cricket. Besides his pace bowling he was a fine attacking batsman, who was to finish with several centuries to his credit. On 26 September 1889, however, he fell to his death from the fourth floor of the Colonnade Hotel, Philadelphia. Suicide has always been seen as a strong possibility. Francis Brewster, on the other hand, lived to be 89. A brilliant fieldsman, and fine batsman, he was also a useful slow right arm bowler, who could make the ball lift deceptively. Perhaps this it what did for George.

George was three years in the XI aggregating 483 runs at 12.36. His best season was his last, 1886, when he made 257 runs at 15.20 with his highest score of 59. It has to be remembered that the wickets were often poor, and, that, apart from high ability batsmen such as Hynes and Dominic Cronin, few of his contemporaries did much better. He was also on the Club Committee in his last two seasons and in the following one, when he did not play.

On leaving University he continued his cricket, playing not only for Phoenix but also for Cork County. He appeared regularly for some years in the annual match between the County and Na Shuler late in the season, though his performances must be regarded as useful rather than outstanding. Between 1889 and 1898, he played 9 matches managing 181 runs at 10.64. His highest score was only 28. It is, however, worth noting that not only was he one of the more successful Cork batsmen, but that he often had to face bowlers of some quality, including GFH Berkeley, an Oxford blue and a left armer of great skill. However George also fell to lesser bowlers. In 1890, for example, his first innings 16 was terminated by Tim O'Brien. O'Brien, later Sir Timothy and the only man to captain Ireland and England at cricket, was a magnificent batsman, but his bowling was, despite his strenuous attempts to attract captains' attention, of little account. A left armer, he took four first class wickets at 85!

George also fell twice to the bowling of HH Montgomery, later Bishop of Tasmania and father of the Field Marshal. Montgomery was a good batsman, but in his five first class matches never got on to bowl. George took handful of useful wickets, his most famous scalp being the old Oxford blue and former Irish left hander William Blacker.

George's only appearances for Ireland were on the North American tour of 1892, under Jack Meldon's captaincy. He only came into the side as a last minute replacement for the Dublin University player PA Maxwell. In fact the team, twelve strong, included eight other second choices, with cricketers such as Bob Lambert, Lucius Gwynn as well as O'Brien, all declaring their unavailability. In the circumstances, they, and George, did surprisingly well. The voyage out was hazardous in the extreme, nearly costing the life of fast bowler CL Johnson, besides exposing the team to Jack Meldon's banjo playing, which was not "a treat for the Gods."

In the second match, a non cap game against XIV of Boston and Lowell in which all twelve tourists played, George showed his talents with the ball, having second innings figures of 21-8-32-8.

His bowling was not used much in the cap matches, though he was to have a 5 wicket haul in another non-cap one, against XV of Baltimore. However he was to do well with the bat in some awkward situations. The first Philadelphia match resulted in a surprising win for Ireland by 127 runs. George played a major part in ensuring Ireland reached respectable totals in both innings by his part in two last wicket stands. In the first innings he was bowled by Bart King, not yet the great bowler he was to become, for 7 but he had helped Archie Penny (59*) add 31. The hosts contributed to their problems by dropping Archie six times. In the second innings George's contribution was even more crucial. Making a doughty 18, he helped Montiford Gavin, the elegant Limerick left hander, put on 43 before being caught off medium pace leg spinner Edward Clark. Gavin, who had gone in first, finished on 90*.

The second match ended in two days with the hosts winning a dramatic game by 23 runs. George, at 10 in the first innings made a well received undefeated 25. According to Derek Scott's account, based on contemporary reports, he "cut very prettily" and played "the most stylish innings for the visitors." Promoted to 3 in the second innings, he failed being bowled by HP Bailey for 7. Bailey was a good medium pacer who had topped the bowling averages on the Philadelphians' tour of Ireland, Scotland and England in 1889.

The third match was arranged at the last minute, because the second game had finished early. Neither spectators, nor the bulk of the players were very interested, though George should probably be exempted from this criticism as he top scored with 39, at no 8, in Ireland's only innings. He was eventually bowled by Wilfred Noble, who had, in fact, few pretensions with the ball, but, according to John Marder in The International Series The Story of United States v Canada at Cricket had "the height, power and reach to make a great batsman."

As we have seen George's career in club cricket continued for some years, but he was not seen in an Irish side again. According to Hone he was Honorary Treasurer of Phoenix CC "between the wars", though he does not appear as such in that club's "History."

George had a distinguished legal career. Having practised as a barrister, he became Professor of English Law at University College Cork in 1907. Subsequently he became a county court judge for Louth and Armagh. After partition, he was appointed judge for Armagh and Fermanagh, though he continued to live at his home Herberton, Blackrock. In 1911 he married Gladys Vaughan of Abergavenny. They had two sons, one of whom, General "Kensey" Comeford Green CBE, had a long and distinguished military career, which included a leading role in the NATO command structure. George ended his days at Herberton, where for some years his next door neighbour was a certain Mr De Valera. What they discussed over the garden fence has not been recorded, presumably not politics as "Dev" would hardly have approved of George's apparent support for the state of Northern Ireland. Perhaps they talked cricket, which "The Long Fellow" is said to have played as a schoolboy. Troubles came close to home as well, which must have made life uneasy for one of George's status and sympathies. On 10 July 1927, the controversial Justice Minister, Kevin O'Higgins was assassinated in Cross Avenue, the street in which Herberton was situated. O'Higgins was on his way to Mass. It is likely that the Greens attended the same church.

However, George survived to die, peacefully at home aged 76. In his will he left his total effects valued at 380-2s-6d to Gladys.