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Edward Liddle's Biographies of Irish Cricketers
Gerard Peter O'Brien
  • Born 12 November 1942, Dublin
  • Educated O'Connell Schools, Dublin
  • Occupation Insurance Official
  • Debut 1 July 1976 v Netherlands at Downpatrick
  • Cap Number 530
  • Style Right hand batsman, wicket keeper.
  • Teams Malahide

Gerry O'Brien, one of three brothers whose combined careers for Malahide spanned five decades of the 20th Century, was a sound batsman, usually in the middle order but capable of opening the innings. He was also, when called upon, a reliable wicket keeper.

A consistent, if not always heavy, run getter for Malahide, he played one innings in 1972, which, though it only realised 16 runs, deserves to be remembered, as it almost kept the Leinster Senior Cup, won the previous season, at The Village. Played at Sydney Parade against Pembroke, it was the first limited overs final following the then Gillette Cup format of 60 overs a side. Alan Parker and George Mellon put the hosts on top by bowling Malahide out for a paltry 79. This would have been even worse without Gerry's innings. The match then took a dramatic turn, with Dougie Goodwin exploiting the seam friendly conditions to take 6-9, Parker's batting seeing Pembroke home by one wicket. However, while Dougie and Alan were justly acclaimed as the heroes, there would have been no target at all for Goodwin to bowl at, had it not been for Gerry's innings.

He appeared for some fifteen seasons in the Guinness Cup. Usually in the lower middle order for North Leinster, Gerry made a number of useful scores, for example on debut. Coming in at 7 against North West, when only David Pigot (70) had shown any confidence, he made the second top score 32 before being bowled by John Cochrane, and, helped by stylish left hander Noel Grier in a 7th wicket stand of 44, was largely responsible for raising the score to a respectable 168, Grier finishing on 22. It proved to be a winning total.

However, he also contributed some major innings to the northsiders. At Malahide in 1975 v Ulster Country, he came in at 59-3 after Ian Harrison had caused an upper order mini collapse and soon lost Alec O'Riordan to the same bowler. He then dominated stands with Gerry Murphy (18) and Grier (22*) to reach a brilliant 103*, the runs scored out of 151 added while he was at the wicket. The hosts won by 104 runs.

Two other dominating knocks may be noted. At Cabra in 1976 against Munster, he came in at 114-2, and was still there when the declaration came at 230-5, having reached 75*, a 59 runs victory following. Against a strong Ulster Country attack at Downpatrick in 1977, he was easily the top scorer with a doughty 60, as John Elder, Ian Johnston and Ivan Anderson, tied up his team-mates to dismiss the visitors for 172. The hosts won by 5 wickets. Without Gerry's contribution, their task would have been a simple one.

He was also to the fore in his penultimate match in the competition in 1982, against Ulster Country at The Green, North Leinster's only defeat in a cup winning season. He came in at 99-4, several of the earlier batsmen having got a start, but none having gone on to a large score, against Simon Corlett's hostile bowling. Gerry held the rest of the innings together, eventually being dismissed one short of a well deserved half century. The visitors finished on 182, with Corlett having taken 6-64. The hosts managed a two wicket win, largely thanks to an 80 from former North Leinster player Chris Harte.

Gerry's Irish career was not so successful, aggregating only 132 runs at 14.67 in six matches between 1976 and 1978. His first match, against the Netherlands at Downpatrick, was without question his best. The first two innings resulted in Ireland leading by 4 runs. Gerry, at 5, having contributed a single to a total of 160, which owed much to 52 from Dermot Monteith. Monty was in charge for the first time and had also, on the first morning, become a father for the third time. Ireland did better in the second innings, but quick runs were needed when Gerry came in at 106-3 to join Ivan Anderson.

He shared in a 67 runs partnership with the Waringstown man, then, having lost Corlett for 0, added an unbroken 96 for the 6th with Parker, enabling Monteith to declare. The captain then bowled his side to a convincing victory.

Gerry was never to meet with such success again, though he showed fighting qualities in his very next match against the all conquering West Indies, whose humiliation of England that summer was famously inspired Tony Grieg's ill fated pledge to "make them grovel." Some of the shock troops were resting when they visited Rathmines, but they had little difficulty in defeating Ireland while putting on a spectacular batting display. Gerry's second innings 19, his second top score for his country, showed that he did have the ability to make some impact at this level. The following summer, in the drawn match against the Australians, he did not bat in either innings, so was unable to show his qualities against another Test attack.