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Guide to Irish International Cricket 1855-2020
Ireland Under 19: International Tournaments
1981 International Youth Tournament
Ringsted, Denmark

The 4th International Youth Cricket Tournament was hosted by the Danish Cricket Association at the three towns of Sorø, Ringsted and Slagelse with the now established seven teams represented.

Ireland were captained by Jimmy Kirkwood who would not only later gain senior selection but Olympic Gold with GB Hockey. Robbie Dennison would gain soccer caps for Northern Ireland while his Waringstown club mate Garfield Harrison, selected as an over-age player, in the last tournament in which this was allowed, would win 118 caps.

Paul Wallace was back for his second tournament with fellow pace-bowlers James McBrine, Alan Jeffrey and Peter O’Reilly and all four would eventually make it to the senior side.

Playing on matting pitches Ireland won four of their six matches and while well beaten by England North, their loss against England South was in conditions which made the game more of a lottery than a cricket match. This loss placed Ireland third to England South even though both sides ended with equal points.

Peter O’Reilly, who celebrated his seventeenth birthday a week before the trip recounts his memories of his first trip in an Irish squad.

“First, a disclaimer. I have at my disposal only the most basic of scoring details and my memory – and that may be unreliable.Thirty-nine years is a long time. This will be more impressionistic than factual.

I know that the tournament took place in July, as it was around the time of my 17th birthday. I know this was the summer of Botham’s Ashes and of the royal wedding – we actually watched some of the wedding during a rain-break in our game against England South.

The world was bigger then. To travel to Denmark, I needed to get myself a passport. I remember having the photos taken in Woolworth’s on Grafton St. The excitement. Did we fly to Copenhagen? I guess we must have. That would have been a first, too. Any previous cricket trips to England or Wales would have been by ferry.

As I recall, all seven participating squads stayed in Ringsted, on a campus that doubled as a cookery school – maybe not the best planning by the Danish Cricket Federation, given the danger of cross-pollination between cricketers and cooks.

We journeyed into Copenhagen on our rest day, to visit the Tuborg factory and see the sights. Our manager, the late Tommy McGeady, gave Robbie Stanton and Colin Kavanagh the job of keeping me out of trouble. They did their best.

We were a happy squad, as I recall. Partly this was down to having cheerful, positive guys in charge. Tommy was a lovely, warm man. Jimmy Boyce had great energy and enthusiasm. Jimmy Kirkwood, our skipper, had a great sense of fun, while also being a brilliant competitor.

We were talented, too. Robbie Dennison went on to become a successful pro footballer but he was probably the most naturally talented batsman that I played alongside at underage levels. Captain Kirkwood has an Olympic gold medal for hockey but was a good enough wicket-keeper/batsman to win a senior cap for Ireland.

Garfield Harrison, our senior pro, went on to become one of Ireland’s best off-spinners and a fine all-rounder. Alan Jeffrey, Paul Wallace and James McBrine all won senior caps, too.

What jumps out from the scoring details is how low the totals are for 50-over games. Partly this was down to the coconut matting pitches and the hairy outfields, which made boundaries hard to come by.

We came third out of six teams, beating Holland, Denmark, Bermuda and Canada and losing to both England sides – south and north. While that sounds respectable, it felt a little disappointing at the time. The English sides had a sprinkling of future Test players in Neil Fairbrother, Jack Russell and Phil Newport but some of us had previously competed well against English Schools sides. They held no fear for us.

Our best chance to cause an upset was against the Southern XI, second game in. In my memory, the breaks for rain were more to our opponents’ advantage. Eamon Masterson’s batting helped us post a competitive total but I remember we weren’t happy with the revised target that England were set. This was long before Duckworth Lewis, incidentally.

We had great plans to take revenge on the Northern XI – at Slagelse or Sorø, I can’t recall. I do remember trying to convince Jim Carson, one of our best batsmen, to go against his religious beliefs and play on a Sunday. I failed, and so did our batters, as it turned out. Richard Illingworth, who would play in a World Cup final 11 years later and who is now better known as an umpire, took five wickets. We were well-beaten.

At least the schedule had our last game against Canada, which allowed us to finish on a high. As I recall, we had an Abba session on the bus to Copenhagen Airport, with Paul Wallace on lead vocals. Happy memories.”

Denmark v Ireland at Brodby, 28th July

The ground at Soro was unfit for play so the match was transferred to a ground near Copenhagen. Ireland won the toss and invited Denmark to bat.

Denmark began very nervously against steady bowling and good fielding and made little effort to score and by lunch time had lost six wickets for 60 runs. After lunch saw a change with Morild attacking the bowling and with a display of controlled hitting reached 60* by the end of the 50 overs, by which time he had seen his team score double. Harrison had the best bowling figures of 4 for 5 in 10 overs. However, it must be stated, in fairness to the other bowlers he had finished his spell prior to Morild’s attack. The Irish innings started steadily and Kirkwood and Ryan took the score to 35 before Ryan was run out. Kirkwood (55) playing with uncharacteristic restraint and with solid support from Carson and Harrison, saw the scores level before he was out.

England South v Ireland at Slagelse, 29th July.

England South won the toss and put Ireland in to bat in poor weather conditions with the run-ups and outfield very wet. Ireland made an indifferent start against good bowling and steadily lost wickets and by lunch were 90 for 5. After lunch, due to rain, the Irish innings was reduced to 41 overs but with Masterson (41*) and Wallace (17) hitting out, the innings closed at 144 for 6.

Heavy rain delayed England South innings and when the umpires decided a start was possible, the English target was 121 in 35 overs. In conditions unsuitable for cricket, O’Reilly and Jeffrey made an initial break-through with three wickets falling for 16 runs. However, the English captain Falkener (66) having first steadied the innings took control and with good support from Lines (14) and Haswell (26*) saw his team home. During this period the Irish players both bowlers and fielders laboured manfully with a soapy ball and a waterlogged outfield.

This was a match which in normal circumstances would have been abandoned and in the conditions the team batting second had all the advantage. The Irish team was unhappy to lose under such conditions and were confident that they could have won under normal playing conditions.

Ireland v Netherlands at Slagelse 30th July

Ireland made a poor start with Kirkwood and Martin out for 2 runs. Carson and Dennison, however, got their heads down and took the score to 77 before Carson (32) was out. Harrison (71) joined Dennison (87) and by excellent batting added 130 runs (the highest stand of the tournament) before both fell in the final overs. Netherlands made a brave effort to keep up the required scoring rate but lost wickets to accurate bowling and good fielding. When their star batsman. Elferunk (46), was out with the score at 105 for 5 to a brilliant catch by Me Brine, they gradually fell behind the rate and were all out for 155.

Ireland v Bermuda at Soro, 1 August.

Ireland again made a poor start losing 2 wickets for 19 runs. Kirkwood and Dennison batting carefully brought the score to 75 before Kirkwood (20) was out. Dennison continued to bat with ease and found a useful partner in McBrine (20). Ireland’s inning closed at 162/8, thanks mainly to Dennison (68) who was out again forcing the scoring rate in the final overs. Bermuda made a very good if slow start with Jones (33) and Trott (51 *) putting on 72 for the first wicket. But a sudden collapse saw them lose 6 wickets, while their score progressed from 102 to 111 and were all out for 137. The Irish fielding was of a high standard with A. Jeffrey making an outstanding catch to break the opening stand and three batsmen were run out. McBrine was the most successfulof the bowlers with 3 for 25.

Ireland v England North at Soro, 2nd August

Ireland was put in and soon found themselves in trouble against very good English bowling. The Irish batsmen had no answer to the Yorkshire spin bowlers Boocock 2 for 21 and Illingworth (no relation) 5 for 22 and were all out for 70. England North took no chances in their innings and reached their target in 35 overs for the loss of 2 wickets.

Ireland v Canada at Ringsted, 3rd August

Ireland won the toss for the second time in six matches and put Canada in. The effects of six matches in seven days was evident in the Irish performance in the field. The standard of ground fielding and catching was away below previous standards with run outs and catches being missed. The bowlers, with the exception of O’Reilly 2 for 12 in 10 overs were also below their previous form. The Canadian team took advantage of this and thanks to a fine innings by their captain, K. Singh (70) reached 145/9. The Irish team pulled themselves together by the start of their innings and despite the loss of an early wicket, Kirkwood (24), Carson (33), Dennison 33* and Harrison 39* saw the side home with 7 overs to spare.

Ireland Squad
  • J Kirkwood, captain
  • J Martin
  • D Ryan
  • R Dennison
  • A Jeffrey
  • R Stanton
  • P O’Reilly
  • E Masterson
  • J McBrine
  • M Chada
  • G Harrison
  • P Wallace
  • C Kavanagh
  • J Carson
  • T McGeady (manager)
  • J Boyce (manager)