The newly founded Ballinasloe Cricket Club have been gathering regularly and training for upcoming competitions on the town’s Fair Green, the same location where Ireland’s first Cricket Team gathered to practice nearly 200 years ago in 1825.
Postings of this event on the Life Social Media pages brought about remarks from local historian Steve Dolan who has researched and written extensively on Cricket in Galway and provoked Jane Leslie whose grandfather, Frank Kempster, who was from Ballinasloe, played on the Green as a young man in the 1870s and played for Ireland twice. His brother, Jack, also played and was one of the team’s best bowlers - underarm!
She like Steve and a great many others are thrilled to see cricket flourishing in town again.
The current Cricket Club has only been established in the past year, with members of the local Indian community to the fore - out of a love of the sport. The club trains every Tuesday afternoon in the Fair Green and sees about 40 players involved, although many members work in healthcare and cannot always make the time commitments.
The squad have been especially active lately, competing in the Connacht League against many worthy adversaries in Athlone and Galway. The Cricketers recently competed against Athlone in a hard ball competition but lost the game just short of 17 runs.
Ballinasloe was Ireland’s first ever Cricket club, being founded in 1825 under the patronage of Lord Dunlo made up of the gentry and professional classes. Their team trekked all the way to the city capital to Phoneix Park and defeated Dublin in 1828. The sport was played regularly on the Fair Green throughout the century, but gradually declined in the 1900s, among other Cricket clubs, following the infamous ban of ‘foreign’ games by the Gaelic Athletic Association.
The Cricket Club hope to fundraise for a better facility as the current grounds are not ideal for playing the sport with a hard ball. The Committee are considering options and locations for a suitable pitch . Such a ground will enable the Cricket players to play at a professional level, growing and strengthening the club in the Connacht league.
For the moment, the players continue to practice extensively for a variety of competitions this Summer season. The club are always looking for more sportsmen to join them to build the team, and anyone interested in joining can contact coach Shijo George at 089 4235926.
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