Bowlers and Batters Blitz Irishtown

cricket blitz4

Following the success of the Irish Senior Cricket team at the 2007 Cricket World Cup, the sport has enjoyed a renaissance of sorts in the nation’s capital, and nowhere is that revival more evident than in the Dublin 4 area. Exposure to the game, community participation and local success stories have ensured that cricket will play a significant role in the sporting development of the younger generation.

The Dublin City Council South East Cricket Blitz took place on Friday May 9th at Irishtown Stadium, and was a prime example of the resurgence that cricket has experienced. The Blitz was contested by fourth class students from four local schools; Scoil Chaitriona of Baggot Street, Star of the Sea of Sandymount, and Haddington Road Boys’ and St. Patrick’s Girls’ National School, both of Ringsend.

The Blitz took place between 10.30 am and 12.30 pm, and was an initiative funded by Dublin City Council in association with Cricket Leinster, in an attempt to promote cricket in the local area.

John Sweeney, Sports Development Officer for Irishtown Stadium, believes that grassroots level is the place where cricket will really flourish, and that the Cricket Blitz was a great advertisement for the sport in the area. Sweeney says,
“It’s important for kids to learn about cricket at a young age, the Blitz provides equal opportunities for young people interested in the sport.”

“They’re trying to start kids off early,” he says. “It’s a non-contact sport as well, so boys and girls can mix together easily.”

Sweeney recognises the challenge of trying to maintain the sport’s momentum in the area. “We run these programmes for four to six weeks, but we want to make it sustainable,” he says.

Brían O’ Rourke, Cricket Development Officer for Cricket Leinster, states that the Blitz is the outcome of a number of coaching sessions conducted in local schools, organised with the incentive of students representing their school in the tournament. He says there is a great love of the sport in the community but that the next stage of forming cricket clubs in the Irishtown area may prove to be difficult due to the presence of four cricket clubs in Sandymount; Railway Union, Merrion, Pembroke and YMCA.

O’ Rourke says the initiative is taking great strides to help cricket become a mainstay in the local schools, and the teachers themselves have been very proactive. “What we can do now,” he says, “is provide the schools with equipment subsidised by Dublin City Council, and also provide teachers with training to a certain level, to get them to do training sessions and then take them to matches.”

The Cricket Blitz also overlaps at this time of year with the Leprechaun Cup, a hardball cricket competition for the more established schools in the area, like Star of the Sea, who have played cricket since 1997.

O’ Rourke is optimistic for the future of tournaments like the Cricket Blitz, and states that the sport is a staple of the area, with a long cricket tradition and, more recently, the fact that the O’Brien brothers, members of the Irish 2007 World Cup team, both hail from Sandymount and are past pupils of Star of the Sea. He believes that the success of the national side has had an impact on the sport, but that community and grassroots level work has played a more pivotal role.

“I think it’s just a lot of lads getting their hands ready and going into schools,” he says, “the Irish senior team doing well in the World Cup in 2007 in the West Indies, and it’s followed on from that.”

Pictured, from left to right: Fintan Mc Allister and the pupils from Star of the Sea: Noah Scolard, Dominic Ryan, Dean Holmes, J.P Tiernan, Karl O Shea, Ronan Mc Namara and Sports Development Officer John Sweeney.

By Craig Kinsella