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1979 International Youth Tournament
Toronto, Canada

The 3rd International Youth Tournament was hosted by the Canadian Cricket Association and was based in Toronto with matches being played at Upper Canada College and the Toronto Cricket, Skating and Curling Club.

Brian Gilmore retained the Irish captaincy from the previous tournament with the only other survivor from 1977, Jim Patterson as his deputy. The squad of fourteen contained ten Ulstermen and seven players from the squad would go on to gain full International caps.

Garfield Harrison, who had played in 1977 as a sixteen year old was not included but would reappear in 1981. If he had been included an unequalled number, eight, of the squad would eventually make the senior side.

Bermuda made their first appearance in the Tournament bringing the complement to seven in a round-robin format of six matches. A new introduction to the tournament was that following that round of matches the top four sides would play semi-finals and that there would be a Tournament Final.

Having lost their first match to the Netherlands Ireland bounced back with successive wins over both the England sides, a feat not managed before or since. A revenge win over the Netherlands in the semi-final meant that Bermuda and Ireland contested the final and Bermuda, who had beaten Ireland in the round-robin were winners at their first attempt.

The Ireland squad

Robin Haire recalls a shock to the system on arrival in Toronto.

“My first memory was disembarking into what seemed like an oven the temperature in Toronto was hitting the 90s so it took us a few days to acclimatise. Accommodation for all the teams was four to a dorm in Upper Canada College, which was pretty much in the centre of Toronto.

Our captain was ‘Malahide’s best’, Brian Gilmore, with vice-captain Jimbo Patterson and we were coached and managed by two lovely men, Tommy McGeady from Dublin and Robin Reid from Belfast.

Two grounds at the college were used, both were a poor standard, with the Cricket, Skating and Skating Club ground the excellent exception. Unfortunately all the games were played on matting surfaces which was a big disappointment to us all.

As a master race England were allowed their customary two teams, North and South. Suffice to say we defeated both emphatically. In their squads were Neil Foster, Alan Wells, Andy Pick, Richard Illingworth, Ian Pont, Tim Robinson, Martyn Moxon, Tim Curtis and Steve O’Shaughnessy who was easily their best player.

Looking back now, a lot of the Irish guys could have made a career out of cricket, given the fact that two years later we were watching Foster, Robinson, Curtis, Moxon starring for England with the others enjoying fine County careers.

Our performances were superb, given the hot conditions, with 5 wins in 8 games, losing a very tight final to Bermuda by 3 wickets.

An incident in the final summed up our day when, with Bermuda needing about 10 to win, and with 7 wickets down, the ball went between middle and off stump without dislodging the bails! Jimmy Kirkwood, our wicketkeeper and yours truly, the bowler, understandably not best pleased especially when one of the umpires then casually placed the ball through the stumps several times when play was halted, I kid you not. So, runners up it was for us.

A trip of a lifetime it was with life friends made, 8 games played in 10 days, all in stifling heat. I guess we exceeded expectations, although there was slight disappointment from 14 guys on the plane home that we just missed out in the final. Maybe that should be 13 guys as our captain certainly enjoyed his plane journey home! Enough said - ‘What goes on tour stays on tour!’”

Jimmy Carson

“When one looks through the squad for the IYT 1979 it wasn’t exactly full of ‘Shrinking violets’! There were characters aplenty on the plane to Canada. We all believed in ourselves and we all believed in each other. There was no sense of an inferiority complex especially against the two England sides North and South.

We probably put a marker down before a ball was bowled by being somewhat boisterous at the pre-tournament reception and by leading a sing-song with dubious lyrics at the expense of our English opponents on the return bus journey to Upper Canada College. All the while at the front of the bus were Tommy McGeady and Robin (Sticky) Reid having a polite chat with the English management and trying to ignore what was going on behind.

At Upper Canada College games were played on a mat and the long and coarse grass on the outfield meant that ‘good’ shots went unrewarded.

The other venue was the Toronto Cricket, Skating and Curling Club was in essence a Country Club for well-heeled residents of the city and boasted a turf square although again we played on a mat, but with a superb outfield and all the luxuries that a member could might expect in such an establishment. We were lucky to have three of our fixtures there and took full advantage of what was on offer.

Much to our dismay the Final was held at Upper Canada College which suited the bludgeoning style of our opponents Bermuda. Our many talented stroke makers were forced to play in a way that was alien to them.

I would say that if you asked all the squad about their memories of the trip they would mention the wonderful togetherness of the squad, brilliantly led by Brian Gilmore. Gilly still sticks in my memory as the only player who could rival Peter O’Reilly for the ‘shabby chic’ look on the field.

We were able to regularly watch the Toronto Blue Jays baseball games in the evenings but for me there was a personal highlight. As we were walking through Lakeside Park one evening we came across a free open-air concert given by none other than Blues legend BB King complete with his band and trademark white handkerchief.

As the ‘baby’ of the party it was a wonderful experience to tour with a fabulous array of talented cricketers, but more importantly a great collection of fantastic people.”

Netherlands 130 Ireland 125

Much of what was to become commonplace about the Irish bowling and fielding was displayed in this match. The opening bowlers broke through early and were very economical. The spinners caused problems for all the batsmen. The Dutch were the most miserly bowling and fielding side in the tournament. They had a week’s preparation in Toronto and bowled tightly to defensive fields. The Irish batsmen found it difficult to score against these tactics and an over-cautious start by the early batsman put too much pressure on the latter batsman. Ireland were in with a chance a few times, but were always thwarted and needed 13 in the last over with the last pair together. Two off the first ball, two wides, a maiden ball, another two, another wide and then Hunter was brilliantly caught at mid-wicket.

Ireland 188 for 5 England North 135

The Irish innings was an excellent example of consistency. A feature was a partnership of 57 by Gilmore and McMichael for the 4th wicket and 48 for the 7th wicket by Coghlan and Wallace of which 27 were scored in the last four

overs, all run in a temperature of approximately 80° C. When England batted, Patterson promptly disposed of two of the first three and after 10 overs, England were 9 for 3. Then an Englishman called Michael O’Shaughnessy played a very fine knock of 67 being especially severe on the slow bowlers and for a time, caused some worry. However, Wallace made the breakthrough in a spell which brought him three wickets and Ireland scored their first wifi over an English side in three tournaments.

England South 101 Ireland 104 for 6

Another good start with a catch behind off the first ball of the match and with Hunter bringing off a very fine catch and bowl in his second over, England South found themselves 2 for 2. All the bowlers kept the pressure on and were backed by good fielding.

The Irish start was very slow against the quickest bowlers in the tournament. Dennison, in his first game, dominated the opening partnership and made a very fine 30. Kirkwood (30) also batted well and, at 71 for 1 in 29 overs, all looked well. By 40 overs, we were 83 for 6. An unfortunate feature of the collapse was B. Gilmore hitting the ball on to his mouth, losing his front teeth. However, Patterson and Murphy saw us home before the English quickies could be recalled.

Canada 109 Ireland 110 for 0

Another dramatic start with Patterson bowling two men in his first over. Canada fought back and were 26 runs in the fifth over without further loss. However, when Haire had their best batsman Bottle l.b.w. for 37 all was well, for the remaining batsmen found the Irish attack overpowering and were all out for 109 in 40 overs. When Ireland replied Cohen (54*), who until then had difficulty adjusting to the matting, and Dennison (55*) gave a first-class display of well- placed shots and good running.

Denmark 121 Ireland 89 for 2

Ireland won on faster run rate. Denmark found themselves 1 for 2. A stand of 50 then followed between Standvig (51) and Jual (21) to steady the innings, but the return of Patterson broke the stand and with M. Murphy giving his best performance to date the innings closed at 121.

As the competition rules required the team batting second to bat at least 20 overs, all Irish eyes were on the threatening sky. Cohen and Dennison began where they left off against Canada and it was a surprise when Dennison (33) fell with the score at 64 in the 20th over. The rain soon followed and, though we started again, a further downpour in the 27th over finished the proceedings, Ireland winning with a run rate of 3.3 per over. We were now assured of a place in the semi-finals even though we had yet to play Bermuda.

Bermuda 205 for 8 Ireland 126 for 9

Patterson was unwell and Kirkwood injured. We got an early wicket, but the edge was not there and this was our worst fielding display. Apart from Gilmore, the bowling was loose with 60 runs coming off the last 7 overs. An injury to Dennison’s finger in the early overs of the match, which prevented him from keeping wicket, didn’t help.

Ireland had a catastrophic start and were 6 for 4 in the 8th over. McMichael (68) then played his best innings of the tour, and with Coghlan (27) put on 87 for the 4th wicket. However, when McMichael fell, the innings folded up. Dennison was unable to bat.

Semi-Final: Netherlands 106 for 7 Ireland 109 for 5

Though the Dutch had sporadic bouts of scoring, their run rate was severely restricted, as each bowler was really economical and the fielding was aggressive. A special word of praise for M. Murphy for a fine spell of bowling when Netherlands needed to accelerate. Their approach was difficult to understand, for in their 50 overs they lost only 7 wickets in scoring 106.

Cohen and Dennison resumed their partnership, but Dennison was soon out. Cohen was in dominating form, being third out at 75 with 45 to his name. Gilmore then treated us to a captain’s innings and with 4 overs to spare, we were in the final.

Final: Ireland 148 for 8 Bermuda 149 for 7

We won the toss, at last, but lost Cohen to the first ball of the second over. Shortly afterwards, Kirkwood was hit inside the pad and carried off. Their opening bowler was very accurate and bowled his allocation in one spell conceding 6 runs in 10 overs. Dennison was out with the score at 22 and McMichael soon followed out to a superb catch. Gilmore and Carson set about a rescue in sensible fashion 'and took the score to 79 before Gilmore was out to be followed at 81 by Carson and we were in trouble again. However, the remaining batsmen, especially Murphy and Wallace, hit out bravely and we reached 148.

For the first time in the tournament, we did not get an early wicket. Haire joined the attack and had an immediate success. Murphy did the same, but Bermuda were ticking over at just above the required rate. Gilmore switched his bowlers and wickets fell, but not enough. Nor could we contain their fluent stroke makers. During this time, the fielding was absolutely magnificent and, while it would be unfair to single out any person, mention must be made of the courage of Jim Kirkwood who, while in considerable pain, kept an excellent wicket. The game went to the 49th over and, although beaten, the team can be proud of their display.

Ireland squad
  • B Gilmore (North Leinster) captain
  • P Wallace (North West)
  • P Coghlan (South Leinster)
  • C Jeffrey (North West)
  • J Kirkwood (Ulster Country)
  • J Patterson (Ulster Country)
  • R Haire (Ulster Town)
  • D Dennison (Ulster Country)
  • M Murphy (North Leinster)
  • M Cohen (South Leinster)
  • J Carson (Ulster Country)
  • P McGowan ((Ulster Country)
  • I McMichael (North West)
  • R Hunter (North West)
  • Tommy McGeady, manager
  • Robin Reid, manager