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Edward Liddle's Biographies of Irish Cricketers
Robert Leo Donovan
  • Born 28 June 1899 Dublin
  • Died 26 February 1932 Dublin
  • Educated St Mary's College, Dublin University College Dublin
  • Occupation
  • Debut 4 August 1921 v Scotland at Rathmines
  • Cap Number 306
  • Style Left hand bat, left arm medium pace bowler.
  • Teams University College, Dublin; Leinster

Robert Donovan, son of Leinster and Ireland medium pacer EJC Donovan, was a useful lower middle order batsman and good medium pace bowler whose career at both club and international level was too brief to allow him fully to display his talents.

Like many other cricketers of his age, his development was affected by the first World War there being little serious cricket played at senior level during his formative teenage years. Nevertheless, he was a member of both the UCD and Leinster sides when play resumed after the carnage, being able - in those far off days - to appear for both teams in the newly formed Leinster Senior League. He was not alone among Leinster men in turning out for the College also. Veteran Irish of spinner Bill Harrington had several games for UCD, apparently on the basis that his house in Terenure was near to their ground!

Robert did enough in these early years to gain selection for Ireland v Scotland at Rathmines in August 1921. Unfortunately the weather and the excellence of the three other main bowlers in the Irish side prevented him from making any worthwhile contribution. Play on the first day did not begin until 2.50 whereupon Robert's Leinster off spinning team-mates Bob Lambert and Harrington, aided by medium pacer Wenty Allen, shot the visitors out for 109. Rain prevented play on the second day and on the third Ireland made 186, with Robin's fellow debutant, Cambridge and Middlesex all rounder EL Kidd hitting a brilliant 66. At least Robert, bowled by the visitors' most successful bowler medium pacer Gilbert Hole, for 3 did better than another debutant, Jim Ganly who began his illustrious career with a duck! Robert did not get a bowl in the second innings either when Harrington, in what proved to be his last match for Ireland, reduced the Scots to 42-6 before stumps were drawn.

Robert Leo Donovan was not selected for Ireland again, indeed his career in senior cricket in Dublin was limited, he passed neither the 1000 run nor 100 wicket mark for Leinster. Though he married in 1929 his life was dogged by ill health and he was only 32 at the time of his tragically early death.