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Edward Liddle's Biographies of Irish Cricketers
Michael Brian Shannon
  • Born 16 March 1965 Bangor, Co Down
  • Educated Sullivan Upper School, Holywood
  • Occupation Sales Manager
  • Debut 15 July 1984 v Wales at Malahide
  • Cap Number 554
  • Style Right hand batsman, off break bowler
  • Teams Holywood

Michael Shannon hails from a long established cricket family, famed for its deep rooted attachment to Holywood cricket. Thus his father Brian was well known as an opening batsman for the club, best remembered for a magnificent 152 against NICC in the first round of the NCU Challenge Cup in 1949. North, favourites that season, were defeated by 61 runs despite a stylish hundred from George Morrison. The match lasted four days and an aggregate of 657 runs resulted. Brian's brother Ernie was a bowler of some pace with a "whirlwind action" while their father, also Ernie, was an invaluable backroom man, for many seasons at Belfast Road. Now, of course, Michael's son bids well to be best cricketer of them all.

A useful lower middle order batsman in club cricket, Michael was - and happily remains - an accurate, if flattish, off spinner whose form for Holywood over many seasons showed him to be one of the mainstays of the club. He first gained prominence, however, as a schoolboy cricketer. He was a member of the Ulster Town team in the U19 Esso Trophy Interprovincial Tournament from 1981 to 1983, being the third most successful bowler in the competition in his final year when his 5 wickets came at a cost of 9.6. However his best bowling figures were achieved against South Leinster in a pulsating draw at Anglesea Road in 1981. The visitors totalled 175-8 to which their hosts replied with 174-9, Michael with 3-30, being largely instrumental in denying them victory.

This and other consistent performances led to his being selected for Irish School v Wales in 1982. Wales included the future English paceman Steve Watkin but a strong Irish side, including four others who were to gain full Irish caps, and one, Peter O'Reilly, who already had, won by 97 runs at Park Avenue. Michael with figures of 11.2-5-16-2 and 22-10-20-4, played a notable part in the victory, his wickets including future Glamorgan and Sussex batsman, the diminutive Tony Cottey who was to score more than 15000 first class runs with 31 hundreds and fringe Glamorgan batsman Mike Cann. Cottey also played football for Swansea City but should not be confused with the "sound alike" Everton player. Michael, Ireland's most successful bowler was, later in the season, a member of the Irish squad in the Youth International Tournament in the Netherlands.

His achievements for Holywood over the years are legion and it is no fault of his that the club did not spend many years in the "big time" while he was wheeling away in the 1st XI. Thus in 1984 he took 40 wickets which helped his side to the Section 2 title, he followed this with 42 wickets in 1985 to ensure that Section 1 status was retained, though relegation followed in the next season. He had also shone as a batsman in the vital match promotion chasing year of 1984. Promotion, the first for 25 years, was gained by an end of season victory against Laurelvale, who set the seasiders 168 to win. It was anybody's match at 112-5, before Michael smashed his way to 33* off 22 balls in an unbroken stand with a more sedate Billy McCormick to secure the title. Other fine seasons with the ball included a 47 wicket haul in 1987 to regain promotion and 48 in 1990 helping the Club to "stay up."

Ironically, however, his two best seasons occurred when Holywood had once more been relegated. Though he took 58 wickets at 8.6 in 1993 and 57 at 7.9 the following year, he was not rewarded by seeing his side once more playing at the highest level. One of his best bowling spells for Holywood came in the latter year against Derriaghy at Belfast Road. The hosts found themselves bowled out for a mere 55 but if their visitors thought that an easy victory was on the cards, Michel and Neil McMaster soon caused a rethink. Together they bowled out the opposition for 37, Michael getting 5-15; he had taken the first four wickets to fall in first four overs reducing Derriaghy to 7-4. A slight recovery followed but Neil ensured that it was not maintained. We may finally recall an outstanding spell against Millpark at the end of September in 2002. Holywood had to win to stay in Section 2, but against an opposition including Davy Dennison and the Nelson brothers this was no foregone conclusion. A total of 187-9, however, gave Michael et al something to bowl at and how well he responded. The visitors went down by 98 runs with Michel taking 7-12, including the hat trick.

He captained the Club in 1986, 1991, 1997 and, most importantly from 2002 - 2005. The latter four seasons were difficult ones for the club and Michael did much to keep it going. These days he continues to ply his trade with the 3rdXI, helping them this (2012) season to the Minor Qualifying Trophy. Early May showed is old guile and accuracy remains as figures of 3-22 against Instonians and 3-5 against Bangor demonstrates.

Michael's representative appearances were fewer than many would have expected. There is a strong belief at Seapark that it was his loyalty to Holywood that denied him more chances. He was not without invitations to join a more "fashionable" club, but always remained true to his roots.

He played for Ulster Town at senior interprovincial level between 1983 and 1988. His best figures came against Ulster Country at Ormeau in 1984. Town had batted first but totalled only 153-9. However the visitors also found the going hard, largely due to Michael who turned in the highly commendable figures of 25-7-46-4. The four were Jimmy Kirkwood, Davy Dennison, Ross McCollum and Charlie McCrum, a haul which many a bowler would envy. Michael's sole Irish cap came against Wales at Malahide on three glorious July days in 1984. Ireland won by 10 wickets but Michael played little part with O'Reilly and Dermot Monteith sharing the bowling honours. It could be argued, however, that the debutant might have been given more of a chance to turn his arm over. However he sent down only 13 overs in the visitors' two innings and failed to take a wicket. However his accuracy was such that he went for only 15 runs, so he had by no means let himself or his side down.

Michael Brian Shannon may not have touched the heights in representative cricket but he will long be held in great esteem at Holywood, both for his pin point accuracy off spin and for his loyalty and dedication to the Club he has served for so long. NB I am indebted to Ryan McMaster's 125th Anniversary Commemorative Brochure of Holywood Cricket Club (2006)