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NCU President's Message - Summer 2016

Peter McMorran
NCU President

Despite the weather of the last few months a considerable amount of cricket has been played.

Since my Spring message I have had the pleasure of visiting (with Pippa my dog) clubs such as Downpatrick; Dundrum; Larne; Muckamore; North Down; Saintfield;  Downpatrick ……   In addition Celia (my wife) and I were the guests of Robin Walsh as sponsor of a match at Lisburn which without doubt remains one of the best Clubs to enjoy a cricket tea.

The semi-finalists of the Irish Cup are now known, with Waringstown and Instonians representing the NCU in the final four. Unfortunately the draw was not kind, drawing the NCU sides against each other and there will therefore only be one NCU team in the final to play either Merrion or YMCA.

After a third attempt at their semi-final CIYMS (last year's winners) will face CSNI (2014 winners) in a local derby for the Arthur J Gallagher Challenge Cup final at The Green Comber on Friday 29th July 2016.

Whist visiting NCU Clubs I have been very encouraged by the efforts being put in by Administrators and Coaches to develop their clubs.  The vast majority of this work being provided by volunteers and we all owe these individuals a debt of gratitude for their involvement.  It is pleasing to hear of the support Clubs have received from Cricket Ireland Development Officers and now from Callum Atkinson recently employed by the NCU.

Photo right shows: CSNI captain Andrew Cowden (second left) and his CIYMS counterpart, Nigel Jones, with the managing director of AJG, Shane Matthews, and the president of the Northern Cricket Union, Peter McMorran

The Challenge Cup is the blue ribbon event of domestic cricket in the NCU and weather permitting a sizeable crowd should enjoy the usual warm welcome to The Green with Hot Food, Ice cream and a refreshment tent available to spectators.

At the beginning of the season neither CIYMS nor CSNI were the bookies favourites for the Cup but each team has match winners capable of altering the result.

Lisburn are now through to the final of the Lagan Valley Steels Twenty20 Cup which will be played at Waringstown Friday 12th August commencing at 5.00pm.  The other finalist being either North Down or Waringstown.

Unfortunately the NCU President's XI fixture v British Police CC at Stormont was rained off, indeed out of five planned fixtures the touring team only played 16 overs of cricket however I know this did not prevent them from enjoying the hospitality of the guest Clubs of which the BP team were very appreciative.

Meanwhile the PWC Northern Knights under the leadership of James Shannon are putting in improved performances in the Inter-Provincial series.  There is no doubt further work is still required but good progress is definitely being made and it is pleasing to see the introduction of youthful players such as Jamie Magowan, Robert McKinley, James McCollum and Jacob Mulder into the team.

The youth however have had a very successful Inter-Provincial campaign with both the Under 15's and 17's winning their tournaments and the Under 13's being runners up on net run rate. The Under 11's yet to play.  The Under 15's also had an enjoyable tour to Copenhagen to play the Denmark Under 17's and the players will have benefited from the experience.

This success at youth level is no coincidence considering Alan Waite's meticulous planning of the junior coaching programmes, the support he has received from CI, NCU and volunteer coaches and the dedication of the players themselves.  The development of the NCU youth cricketers is in safe hands.

Another achievement worthy of mention is Belfast Royal Academy having retained the Ulster Bank Schools Cup with a tense three wicket win over RBAI.  Many congratulations indeed.

So despite the weather an enormous amount of cricket has been played and at the same time the NCU administrators, under the watchful eye of Andy Clement are already preparing for the seasons ahead.  Neale Matthews, NCU Director of Domestic Cricket, has arranged a series of meetings at various clubs to discuss a number of possible options for the arrangement of Senior and Junior leagues and later this year the launching of the new Club Accreditation Scheme. This is the opportunity for senior officials of clubs to come along and express their opinions and it is hoped there will be a strong turnout at each of the meetings.

So it has been a busy but very enjoyable few months all topped off by the exciting news that the guest speaker at this year's Annual NCU Dinner to be held on Saturday 8th October 2016 in the Clayton Hotel Belfast will be former South African Test and ODI player Jonty Rhodes.  Like Jimmy Kirkwood for Ireland , Jonty is also a dual International having represented South Africa at cricket and hockey and whilst he is known for his quick running between the wickets he is probably best remembered as an exceptional backward point fielder.  I can only imagine demand for the Dinner tickets will be high so early booking is recommended through the General Secretary Bryan Milford on 07828 182090.

If you haven't attended an NCU Dinner in recent years this is surely the opportunity to assemble a group of friends and enjoy what is a very social and enjoyable evening.

Peter McMorran
NCU President