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Guide to Irish International Cricket 1855-2020
Ireland Under 19: International Tournaments
1985 International Youth Tournament
Bermuda

The Ireland squad that travelled to Bermuda in 1985 captained by Paul O’Riordan contained five future Internationals, vice-captain Michael Rea, Angus Dunlop, two wicket-keepers in Allan Rutherford and Brian Millar plus Decker Curry.

They finished third in the table with three wins and three defeats while England North and Bermuda contested the Final - England having 5 wins and one defeat to Bermuda’s 4 wins and 1 defeat with 1 game abandoned.

In the Final watched by a crowd of 7,000 Bermuda dismissed England North for 170 and went on to a 9 wicket win claiming the title for the second time.

Ireland Team manager Jimmy Boyce was fulsome in his praise for his charges who were ‘tremendous ambassadors’ for their country. He was less complimentary of the accommodation provided by the hosts which he likened to Portakabins in a mothballed army camp.

There was a story of one player’s bed being on the preferred route of a colony of ants which marched in a line across the floor and over the bed and out to forage daily!

The English squads did not stay long and booked themselves into a rather expensive hotel. The Canadians were not far behind, leaving the rest to tough it out.

The subsequent bad press was a major embarrassment to the organisers and raised at the highest levels of Bermudan Government but to little effect. Life including the daily march of the ants went on as before!

On the pitch it was three wins and three defeats for the Irish, good enough to share third place with England South.

Jeff O’Hara was the leading Irish bowler and finished fourth in the Tournament Statistics but as Manager Boyce put it, “he received too little support.”

Michael Rea was the only centurion in the tournament with 109* against Canada in the final match and his third wicket partnership of 149 in the match was the highest for any wicket in the Tournament.

There was also a first glimpse of Decker Curry as he scored a necessarily rapid 40 in a rain affected match versus the Dutch.

Allan Rutherford trawled through his scrapbook to recall his experiences on the trip and his recollections of each of the games.

“After the long flight we arrived in Bermuda late at night. We were transferred to our accommodation which was an old army camp with bunk beds which had cockroaches and geckos crawling up the walls. The next morning England and Canada moved out to a hotel.

Our first game was against Denmark, and as it was on a Sunday Keith McCrory declared himself not available for selection. Denmark were all out for 104, we got a good start but lost quick wickets and managed to just win the game.

Next up I think was England South which included Mark Alleyne.  Ireland from what I remember only scored over 100 and we lost by 8 wickets.

We then played Holland in what was a rain affected match. My memory that there was a thunderstorm and when it dried up overhead the ground staff rolled the wicket and after about an hour’s delay we played the match. Decker opened the innings and scored 40 off very few balls chasing down Holland’s total of 69.

The next game was against the hosts, my recollection was the size and noise of the crowd. Again this was a reduced-overs game due to the weather. Bermuda batted first and scored 166 off 26 overs. We only managed 121 in our 26 overs but there was one decision that changed the game. Decker was given run out when everyone in the ground could see he was well in. In the previous few balls, Decker had hit 2 sixes to silence the large crowd.

Next up was England North who included Michael Atherton, Ian Austin and Warren Hegg.  Ireland from what I remember only scored over 126 and we lost by 6 wickets.

The last game against Canada was probably our best all round team performance, we fielded first and restricted Canada to 188 in their 50 overs. For the first time we got off to a good start with Michael Rea (109) and Keith Finlay (67) putting on 1459 for the third wicket and we won the game by 6 wickets.

Three out of the six games were rain affected, it was stifling hot with afternoon thunderstorms and subsequent high humidity that was hard to cope with. The grounds were all very good and the locals got behind the games turning out in big numbers everywhere we played.

We also enjoyed the Bermudian hospitality even though our accommodation was poor we had a beach approximately 300 metres away which we frequented regularly and that made up for a lot.

For a bunch of lads from Ireland it was a wonderful experience and opportunity for us all.”

For Willie Dwyer a trip to Bermuda would be quite an introduction to air travel as he recalls:

“I remember that we flew out of Belfast, which meant getting a train into Connelly station Dublin from Skerries to met up with the southern based players in the squad then going back past Skerries en route to Belfast. I think we stayed the night in the Wellington Park Hotel and I recall meeting another sporting legend Pat Jennings at a function that night. Not many dropped catches with those hands!

I am always amazed by the amount of kit Irish squads get now, we got:

  • One green v-necked jumper. The crest was 2 cricket bats crossing each other with 'Ireland' underneath. 
  • One green tie with a "Discover Ireland" type logo on it courtesy of Bord Fáilte.
  • A green traditional cap with the shamrock on it from Fosters London. I didn’t know my cap size and asked for a size 7 which never fitted me. Too much hair also didn’t help. 

We were asked to buy a long sleeve suit type shirt and light grey trousers. We didn’t get any playing gear, shirt or sweater, whites etc. 

Hunts sponsorship

Hunts County cricket gear sponsored the team with a cricket bat and a kit bag. The first and only time I received sponsored gear from cricket.    

You got to realise that this was my first time out of the country and on a plane. It was an amazing feeling but I was a small bit anxious also.

I remember stopping off in Baltimore en route to Bermuda. We landed about midnight and the heat, even at midnight jus hit us.

Bermuda was just beautiful and we had brought the heat of Baltimore with us and I quickly realised that my 30 plus yards run up might need to be curtailed a bit.

We stayed in an Army barracks in Warwick which was fine if a little basic! I recall that both English sides complained about the place and moved out to a hotel.

The temperature as stifling and would play a major part in the tournament for the team and as you will find out, for some more than others. The mandatory Ginger in the team, Johnnie McGrath struggled a bit in the heat and I believe still holds the ICC world record for most showers in one day. 

Personally for me the tournament started well and I took wickets in the first match versus the then holders, Denmark.

Sadly by match 3 the shortened run up and the wides law had started to affect my radar. 

I recall Mark Alleyne from England south hitting me for a huge 6 in Lord’s, yes. Lord’s. Lord’s, Bermuda and with it, my last match in the tournament.

Mark Alleyne and the destined to be England captain Michael Atherton plus Mark Robinson (former England Women’s coach and county player) were on the English North and South sides and Doug Insole was manager of one.

In Bermuda, there is a tradition of supporters, running onto the pitch and stuffing money into batmen's pockets when they score a 100 but it didn’t happen when Micheal Rea scored a brilliant hundred for us. We complained to the locals one night but got little traction. 

It was an amazing adventure and maybe it came too early in my life for me to understand how much it meant but feck it I was picked to play for Ireland on merit and I enjoyed most of my adventures in my two weeks in Bermuda.”

Manager Jimmy Boyce summed up the Irish performance thus:

“In view of the heat, the lads competed well but lacked application against good slow bowlers, particularly those on the top England sides. We scored 118 and 128 against them but that was never going to be enough.”

“Our fielding left a lot too be desired, a number of catches were missed but I would put that down to playing in conditions that we were certainly not used to.”

“Two players in particular had a good tour, Bangor’s Senior International Michael Rea who scored a century and finished seventh in the tournament averages. Also Muckamore pace bowler Jeff O’Hara who took nine wickets costing only thirteen runs each and who finished fourth in the averages.”

“We also claimed the third wicket partnership record with Michael Rea and Keith Finlay putting on 150.”

“Overall I was very satisfied with our performance. The top teams were so well prepared and we had our limitations.”

“I’ve invited the Tournament to come to Belfast in 1987 and I can assure them that whenever they do the hospitality, the grounds and not least the accommodation will not be found wanting!”

Ireland squad

  • Paul O’Riordan (Old Belvedere) captain
  • Michael Rea (Bangor)
  • John Callaghan (Strabane)
  • Des Curry (Donemana)
  • Angus Dunlop (YMCA)
  • Willie Dwyer (The Hills)
  • Keith Finlay (Strabane)
  • John Hoey (CYM)
  • Brian Millar (Bangor)
  • Keith McCrory (Creevedonnell)
  • John McGrath (YMCA)
  • Jeff O’Hara (Muckamore)
  • Allan Rutherford (Bready)
  • Jim Boyce (manager)
  • Dennis Ryan (manager)