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Edward Liddle's Biographies of Irish Cricketers
Joseph Patrick Kevin Hopkins
  • Born 3 June 1934 Dublin
  • Died 25 September 2007 St Vincent's Private Hospital, Dublin
  • Educated Catholic University School, Dublin
  • Occupation Auctioneer
  • Debut 18 September 1961 v Australia at College Park
  • Cap Number 492
  • Style Right hand bat; wicket keeper.
  • Teams Pembroke, Merrion

Joe Hopkins, dark haired and of medium build, was a very good wicket keeper, who was, however, a somewhat controversial selection in his one match for Ireland as is outlined below. Having learned the game at CUS, one of several outstanding cricketers to be produced there, Joe made his debut for Pembroke as a batsman in 1950 and had several competitive 50s to his name when, to further his wicket keeping ambitions, blocked by the excellent Harry Hill at Sydney Parade, he moved to Merrion in 1956. He was the Anglesea Road side's first choice stumper until the end of the 1964 season. Besides snaring 80 victims he scored 1527 runs with 7 half centuries, captaining the Club in 1962. However he returned to Pembroke for the 1965 season, though this was as a batsman only as Hill was still in posession of the gloves.

Joe was a member of the successful Merrion side of the late 50s and early 60s, being captain in 1962. His skilled glovework had much to do with their League and Cup triumphs of 1958 and 1960 respectively. With a lesser keeper the Anglesea Road side might well not have won the Cup Final in the latter year. It was a low scoring affair at Castle Avenue in which they defeated Clontarf by 4 wickets,. The speed of Rodney Bernstein caused havoc in the hosts' ranks, but the extras count might well have brought them victory, had it not been for Joe's courageous glove work. I further recall a League match in College Park in April 1962 when Bernstein, a danger to life and limb on an underprepared early season wicket, tore through the University batting, it requiring a great deal of courage and skill to keep to him.

Joe's one match for Ireland had come against Richie Benaud's Australians at College Park the previous September. His selection was, as already mentioned, a controversial one. After several years of indecision, the Irish selectors seemed to have at last settled on a permanent choice behind the stumps in the shape of a young man from Sion Mills named Colhoun. Ossie had played the last 11 matches in succession and had done all that was asked of him. He played in the hurricane affected match against the Australians in Belfast but now was stood down for Joe. There seemed no good reason for this unless the intention was to play a local man to attract more interest. If this was the case however, there were those who thought that Joe was not the best keeper in Leinster cricket, Hill particularly was regarded by many as superior. Still Joe did not let Ireland down. The Australians entertained a vast crowd - who cannot all have turned up to see Joe keep - with some scintillating cricket.

Early in their innings the openers Bill Lawry and Bobby Simpson, who had begun their long running and successful partnership in the summer's Tests, were both troubled by Alec O'Riordan, Joe helping him dispose of Simpson with a smart catch when the future Test captain got an outside edge. At the end of the innings he caught Peter Burge, one of the successes of the Ashes series, when the Queenslander got a thin edge, trying to hit O'Riordan out of the ground. Joe allowed eight byes in the visitors' first innings but only one in the second, when he stumped Alan Davidson off Given Lyness. The off spinner had just come on and Davidson had hit him for an enormous straight 6 on to the pavilion roof. Next ball, to the disappointment of the crowd, Joe stumped him. Joe was not to play for Ireland again. The young man from Sion Mills returned and nobody else got a look in for the next 76 matches!

Joseph Patrick Kevin Hopkins may not rank among Ireland's greatest wicket keepers, but he was a very good one. His presentation of the Hopkins Cup - in memory of his father also a wicket keeper - ensures that his name will not be forgotten in Leinster cricket circles.

His - very brief - obituary appears in Wisden 2008.