Jim Bennett (CricketEurope)
Cricket in Garristown, 1881-1957
Note: Garristown is a village in North-West Fingal; Baldwinstown is a townland in the Garristown Electoral District; Ballymadun is a townland in the Garristown Electoral District; At one stage, all three districts fielded cricket teams; over time, these teams consolidated into one team and the name of the team was then derived from the location of the cricket field.
Cricket in Garristown, Early Days, 1881-1914
During the 1881 season, Garristown CC played at least 5 games. The Freeman’s Journal of 28 June 1881 contained a report of a game between Garristown and Ashbourne which was played at Garristown. Garristown won by 2 runs and 6 wickets to fall, and those who received honourable mention were Wogan, O’Brien and Carroll whose “bowling proved destructive for the visitors.” The fielding of both sides was deemed to be excellent. The scores were Ashbourne 11 runs and 24 runs; Garristown 21 and 15 for 5 wickets.
In the fixtures for August 1881, Garristown has a game listed against Clonavy, and played Bellewstown on 15 August. This game was won by Bellewstown, with Mr Flannigan starring with the ball for Bellewstown and Mr R. Wogan batting well for Garristown. Garristown had a return game against Oldtown on 22 August at Baldwinstown, and the name of the Garristown team is listed as Faughabhallagh CC, Garristown.
The name Faughabhallagh, is a significant statement of identity because even though cricket had its origins in England, some clubs adopted names deliberately to show where their loyalties lay. There were also specific issues due to the sensitivities arising from the Land War, and in this category is the Naul CC, a member of which took the Freeman’s Journal to task for confusing the Naul CC and Westown, and salt was rubbed into the wound when the score was reported incorrectly: In your issue of this day there appears a report of a cricket match played between Westown Naul CC and Matt CC. Same report is incorrect, no club whatsoever being in Westown. The game was between Naul CC and Matt on the ground of AS Hussey, Westown kindly given for the occasion. When stumps were drawn the Naul had scored 41 for their second innings for the loss of 5 wickets. Your report states they were all out for 40. (Signed:) Thomas Duff.
Why did it matter that the name of the club was reported incorrectly? Apart from the obvious comment regarding the importance of accuracy, the Duffs were Nationalists, and although they were grateful for the use of the ground, they did not wish to be associated too closely with the gentry.
Blackhills CC first adopted the name, Shamrocks, but during the Boer War, it changed its name to the Cronje Blackhills to show solidarity with the Boers who were fighting the British. In Skerries some of the members of the cricket team, the Emmets, had members who had been involved in a rent agitation campaign. Gormanstown CC is another example of the naming dichotomy because this team’s home ground was at Gormanston Castle, but the cricket team insisted on calling itself Gormanstown, presumably because it did not wish to appear to be beholden to Lord Gormanston, a leading member of the gentry.
For the 1882 season, there are results of two cricket matches played by Garristown, and a reference to a return game, although the result of the return game is not given in the newspapers. Confusingly, the Garristown teams are listed with 2 different names, Garristown Reds and Garristown Faughaballagh. The Garristown Reds played Oldtown on 3 July 1882 and won convincingly because the fielding of the Garristown team was “too much” for the visitors. On 10 October 1882, Garristown Faughballagh lost to Oldtown in a game played at Oldtown. There may have been two different teams in Garristown, or the reports to the papers may have been submitted by a different person because there was another instance of that occurring when Balbriggan played Ring Commons and one paper gave the name of the team as Briarland, while the other used the name, Ring CC.
From 1884, the names, Reds and Faughabhallagh, were dispensed with, and the team was appearing on the newspapers as Garristown CC. Ballymadun CC was active as well, and it played against Garristown on 11 August 1884. Unfortunately, a premature ending to the local derby provoked Mr R. Finegan to write to the Freeman’s Journal and complain about the “less than handsome” behaviour of Garristown. He stated that the teams had agreed to play until 7.00 p.m., but Garristown was leading by 45 runs to 31 at the end of the first innings and refused to play on.
In the same season, Garristown played Ratoath, and this game was less contentious. Messrs Wogan and Cahill scored 26 and 20 respectively, and Garristown accumulated 78 runs in total for the first innings. According to the report, Ratoath made “a very poor stand, having all disposed of for the small score of 8 runs which caused a follow-on.” It was better in the second innings, and scored 54 runs, but was beaten by an innings and 11 runs. There are no further reports on games for the 1880s and reports on cricket in the 1890s are also very scarce.
There are only 3 references to cricket being played in the area between 1884 and 1899. On 28 May 1893, Ballymadun beat Curraha very easily, on 13 June 1897, Ring Common CC beat Garristown by 20 runs on, and on 13 August 1899, Naul CC beat Garristown by an innings and 53 runs.
From 1900 to 1905, there is a big increase in coverage of cricket, and the Drogheda Independent’s reports give a fine insight into the sporting and cultural values of that era. In addition to being a sport, cricket is also a social activity, and this is emphasised consistently in instances where detailed accounts are submitted to the newspapers. The report which Mr J. Moore, Honorary Secretary of Garristown, wrote on the game versus Blanchardstown is an example of the balance between cricket as sport and cricket as a social and cultural activity.
The game was played at Garristown on 19 August 1900, and the Blanchardstown Brass Band played a “splendid march to the field of battle”, after some “refreshments had been taken”. The visitors batted first and were all out for 38 runs. Garristown scored 46 runs to win by 8 runs. Both teams then “spent a very enjoyable evening in singing and dancing.” Among other games which Garristown played during 1900 were against Macetown, Naul, Duleek home and away.
Mr Moore did not spare Duleek in his report on the game at Duleek. They made a “very bad stay against the bowling of J. Andrews and J. Donnelly, and “were all riddled for 14 runs”. Possibly due to this victory, he reported that “the visitors spent a very enjoyable evening”. During this period, the lack of a transport infrastructure meant that of necessity, most of Garristown’s games were against teams on the Dublin/Meath border.
In 1901, Garristown played home and away games against Duleek, Ratoath, Blanchardstown, Emmets CC, and Kentstown. Duleek was beaten twice, and in his report on the away game against Duleek, Mr Moore mentioned four players, M. Hollywood 20, A. Moore 16, T. Hollywood 15, A. Moore 11, and he referred to the team returning home with “an honourable victory” after partaking of the usual refreshments. Some of the reports are replete with imagery and hyperbole, and the two reports on the Kentstown games contain examples of this literary style. For the game played at Kentstown, the emphasis is on housing images. Kentstown batted first and some of its batters “were evicted” by the fine bowling of Brown and Andrews “before they could make anything in trying to save the little house”. The imagery continued with a reference to Kentstown managing “to keep the roof up” until 68 runs had been scored. Garristown’s reply was 55, and Tully and Hogan were the bowlers for Kentstown “that left roofless cabins with the Garristown men”.
Mr Moore’s account of the return game has less imagery, but nevertheless contained flourishes. Kentstown batted first, and the “splendid bowling of J Brown and J Andrews” made scoring “impossible for the Kentstown men with Kentstown ending up on a score of 14 runs. The “fine” bowling of J Donnelly and E Hogan made life difficult for Garristown, by they “managed to keep the roof till their score reached 41”. J. Donnelly, the Garristown captain, received honourable mention for “his activity on the field and a well-played 20 not out”.
Garristown’s programme for the 1902 season was broadly similar to that of 1901. There were games against Blanchardstown, Mullafin, Ratoath, and a trip to the Phoenix Park to play Castleknock. Ballymadun also featured in the reports for this season, and played against Corbalton, home and away. The game in Corbalton was won by Corbalton, but the “visitors were most hospitably entertained, and after a very enjoyable evening of singing and dancing, the visitors returned home well pleased with their day’s outing.” In the return game, Corbalton scored 22 runs and was “trundled out by the bowling of Brown and Finnegan”. That was as good as it got for Ballymadun, because it “succumbed to the bowling of Tancred and Reilly” and only scored 8 runs.”
There is a dearth of reports for Garristown for the 1903 season, and the only detailed account is of the game against Moorpark at Moorpark which resulted in a win for the home team. Bill Gargan and John Finnegan were the main contributors to the Moorpark victory which was “witnessed by a large crowd of spectators from all parts of the country”. After the game, “the remainder of the evening was spent in a most enjoyable dance with sweet music. The visitors returned home about 9.30 p.m. well pleased with their day’s outing.”
Ballymadun played in the 1903 season, and there are accounts of games against Priestown and Ratoath, both of which Ballymadun lost. The score in the Priestown game was 29 runs to 25, and Ratoath won on a score of 40 runs to 17. In 1903, C. Brown, Secretary of the Grallagh CC issued a challenge to any team from Meath or Dublin, and this provoked the Secretary of Knockbrack CC to add a comment to his match report for the game between Knockbrack and the Grallagh. The result of the game was 23 runs to 19, but the significant element of the report was the comment that Knockbrack “had a much easier win,… than readers of last week’s Independent would anticipate”. In an overview of the season, the Grallagh CC reported that it had played 14 games, winning 12 and losing 2. The captain was W. Brunkard, who handled the team “in a masterly manner”, and the club was given access to a field by Mr G. Wilson. Its best batsmen during the season were R. Tierney, P. Durnan and J. Corbally, while the bowling honours went to M. Durnan, T. Tiernan and J. Whyte.
For the 1904 season, Garristown CC indicated its intention to commence the season with a practice game on 8 May, and in the notice expressed its thanks to S. Mangan, Esq, for “giving his kind permission to play on his land, the old favourite cricket grounds, the Woods.” One of its first games in 1904 was against the Emmets CC Skerries, and this resulted in a win for the Skerries team. When the game ended, “there were songs rendered by the members of both teams suitable for the occasion.” Among the other teams which Garristown played during this season were Wimbleton, Castleknock and Fairyhouse. The one game listed for The Grallagh for 1904 was played against Corbalton, and it resulted in a win for Corbalton.
For 1905, the only fixtures listed for Garristown were home and away games against Emmets CC, Skerries. Towards the end of this season, there was a movement towards putting league structures in place, and a league confined to Sunday clubs in Meath was established at a meeting in Robinstown on 15 October 1905. This initiative had obvious implications for Garristown, the Grallagh and Ballymadun because many of their games were played against teams from Meath, and there was less inclination or necessity to play friendlies if there was a league structure in place. This had already occurred in Dublin when structures were put in place for junior clubs to play league and cup competitions.
The Meath Cricket League was established in 1906, and nearly twenty teams participated in the competition. Mr Paddy Daly who was elected Chairman and later became Chairman of the Fingal League provided his perception of the value of cricket when he stated that “cricket is the most rational as well as the most suitable form of sport for the summer season”. Insofar as Garristown CC was concerned, it is difficult to know if it played less cricket or if the Secretary decided against submitting the results of friendly games. Mullafin CC gave notice of a game against Garristown on 12 July 1908, and requested that its players convene at McGrath’s Cross, the starting point. The score in this game was Mullafin 34 to Garristown’s 29 runs. Both teams were commended for the quality of their bowling and fielding, the best batsmen for Garristown were J. Andrews, J. Donnelly, and C. Holly, and the after-game festivities were enjoyed by all: After being entertained in a manner worthy of the highest praise, but in keeping with Garristown’s traditional hospitality, our boys took the road for the Old Hills via the Lazy Banks well-pleased with their day’s outing.
Between 1910 and 1914, only 4 fixtures are mentioned for either Garristown or Ballymadun. In 1909 and 1910, Garristown played Mullafin, and in 1909 and 1914, Ballymadun played Ratoath and Corbalton.
The Fingal League, 1926
The re-birth of cricket in Fingal commenced in 1925 with the re-organisation of Skerries CC and its desire to play home and away games against the “many clubs which in the past contested friendlies with them.” In April 1926, Knockbrack CC indicated that it was “open to arrange fixtures for the coming season”. The initials steps towards the founding of the Fingal League were taken in October 1926 with the announcement that North County Dublin cricket clubs intended to form a league and were confident of having the league “in full working order before the opening of the next season”.
It was fully operational in 1927 and detailed reports of games were furnished to the Drogheda Independent. The teams which competed in the Fingal League in 1927 were Skerries, Knockbrack, Macraidh (Knockbrack 11), Ballymadun, Knightstown, Black Hills, and Ring Commons. The first fixtures were played on Sunday, 15 May 1927 and the final game was played on 18 September 1927.
In 1928, the number of teams had increased to 10, with the three new teams Barnageeragh, Baldwinstown and Balrothery joining the seven teams which had played in 1927. It was now necessary to create 2 divisions, and there was a play-off between the two teams which finished top of their sections. The final was played at Michael White’s field in Ring Commons on 2 September 1928 between Skerries and Barnageeragh. The scores were Skerries 29, Barnageeragh 21. Ballymadun finished second in Division A. In 1929, the number of teams had increased to 15. There were no defections from the previous year and the new teams were Balbriggan, Naul Hill, Skerries B, Balcunnin and Curkeen. Knockbrack beat Skerries in the semi-final and beat Baldwinstown in the final on a score of 24 runs to 16.
In addition to Fingal League games, challenge matches were still being organised. Baldwinstown was due to play Ballymadun on 6 October for £5 aside and to avoid any allegations of bias, neutral umpires were appointed. At the AGM in 1930, there was a wave of optimism with representatives of 25 clubs present which if it had translated into teams entered in the Fingal League would have constituted an increase of 10 teams in comparison with the 1929 season. but by the commencement of the season, only 19 teams had entered the League. The new teams were Portrane Psychiatric Hospital, the British Legion, Man-O-War and Oldtown. Baldwinstown CC, unwittingly or naively depending on one’s viewpoint, made the news in 1930 when it travelled to Skerries on an I. O. C. bus. Skerries gave a walkover to Baldwinstown because the I.O.C drivers were on strike, and the Skerries captain would not allow his players to take the field against “strike-breakers”.
At the Fingal League AGM in March 1931, the playing regulations were amended, and a decision was taken to play two innings per side in the semi-finals and finals. When the fixtures for the season were announced, 17 teams had entered for the league. The new teams were Baldwinstown 11 and Rush, with the Black Hills, the British Legion and Balcunnin dropping out of the League. The Management Committee decided to organise a “the Fingal Cricket Championship” which would be played as a knock-out tournament during the month of September. The final was played at Balbriggan on 27 September between Portrane and Baldwinstown. No information is available on the result of that game, but in the Garristown Notes in the Drogheda Independent of the 11 November 1931, it was reported that Baldwinstown won the championship outright so that can be taken as confirmation that Baldwinstown CC was the first winners of the Fingal Championship.
For the 1932 season, Baldwinstown, Ballymadun and Garristown were affiliated again to the Fingal League, and the three clubs were proactive on the cricket field and in organising social activities. On 25 September, Ballymadun hosted a challenge game between Deanhill the Meath Champions and Balcunnin the Fingal Champions. On the same day, Garristown hosted its first Annual Dance at St Mary’s Hall, with music by O’Farrell’s Band, dancing was from 9.30 p.m. to 4.00 a.m. and admission for Gents was 3s, Ladies, 2s and Doubles, 5s including supper. As an added attraction, there was a draw for £1 during the dance. The event was successful and over 100 couples attended. The £1 was won by a person from Drogheda, and the only problem was Miss Crosby’s coat being taken by mistake.
Not to be outdone by the other two clubs in the parish, Baldwinstown organised a Whist Drive on 9 October 1932. For the 1933 season, the three teams from the area were in separate sections, but there were signs that the playing resources might be stretched too thinly. Ballymadun played a 6-match programme, won 1 game, and finished last in its section. Baldwinstown played 8 games, winning four and losing 4, while Garristown had a successful season, finishing joint top of its section with Curkeen, and it won 7 of its nine games. Garristown CC organised a Sports Day which featured a wonderful array of events. There was a 10-mile cycle, race, a Market Race, a Potato race, a race on cycles, tug-o-war and a greasy pig race which caused a level of consternation for the ladies who sought refuge behind bicycles and other obstacles in case the pigs should come in contact with them.
In the 1934 season, the number of affiliated teams had fallen to 13 with Curkeen, Knightstown, Skerries and Balcunnin opting out, and a second team from the Naul joining up. It was decided to regionalise the League into two sections, East and West Fingal, with the winner of each section playing a deciding game for the Fingal Challenge Cup. Oldtown and Portrane contested the final, with Portrane winning by two wickets. In 1935, Baldwinstown reached the semi-final of the League, but was beaten by Naul in a thrilling game. Naul went on to win the League, and Garristown was the venue for a challenge game between Naul, as Fingal Champions and a Fingal Selection.
In 1936, there were still 10 teams affiliated, but there were significant changes in the membership of the Fingal League. Garristown, Man-O-War, Balrothery and Balbriggan did not affiliate, but Portrane and Naul Hill had re-entered, and the new teams were Blanchardstown and Clonsilla. In 1938, only 6 clubs attended the AGM of the Fingal League, but Ballymadun sent a telegram apologising for its absence from the meeting and indicating its intention to play during the coming season.
In 1939, Ballymadun in addition to playing in the Fingal League, also played a friendly game against Tubbertynan which Tubbertynan won by 20 runs. Two players by the name of P. O’Brien featured on the Ballymadun scorecard, and this confusion regarding the names of the O’Briens occurred on a reasonably regular basis. One of the O’Briens was P.A. and the other was P. P, and it would have been helpful if this distinction had been made on the reports which were submitted to the Drogheda Independent. Tubbergregan CC played in 1940, but it may just have been involved in friendly games during the season because the O’Brien brothers were playing cricket for three teams. Pat O’Brien is listed on the Portrane team, which was playing in the Leinster Cricket League, both brothers featured for Ballymadun in the Fingal League fixtures and a P. O’Brien played against Tubbertynan in a friendly game. The game against Tubbertynan was played on the Duke de Stackpoole’s pitch at Tubbertynan and resulted in a win for Tubbergregan.
It is noticeable that the reports on the Fingal League games tended to be factual and prosaic, but the reports on the friendly games emphasised the social element of the encounters. After the game against Tubbertynan, “the visitors were entertained to tea which was a suitable finish to a sporting game.” One of the highlights of the season was the game between Man-O-War and Ballymadun which ended in a tie with both teams on 36 runs. Ballymadun made a brilliant start and scored 25 runs before the first wicket fell. Of this total, Peter O’Brien made 19 runs, but in the words of the reporter, “the tail failed to wag”, and Ballymadun was dismissed for 36 runs. The most successful bowler for the Man-O-War was T. Morgan who took 6 wickets for 16 runs. Man-O- War’s score stood at 35 for 7, but M. Rogers dismissed the last three men for 1 run. Kerrigan scored 12, Morgan got 10 and Sheridan got 8 runs for the Man-O-War. The large crowd present gave the players “a great ovation” at the end of this exciting game.
In 1941, Tubbergregan affiliated to the Fingal League, Ballymadun did not, and analysis of the personnel involved in Tubbergregan would suggest that a change of field had occurred. The Hon. Secretary for Tubbergregan was Anthony O’Brien, the Treasurer was Mr James Stone, the Captain was Mr Pat Lynch, and the Vice-Captain was Mr Pat O’Brien. In one of the games for which there is a report, Tubbergregan beat Walshestown on a score of 26 to 14. The main contributors with the bat were P. P. O’Brien 7, T. Tiernan 6 and T. Caffrey 5 while M. Rogers 5 for 8 and B. Hollywood 5 for 4 were the successful bowlers.
Tubbergregan also played a friendly game against a Bellew team which was captained by Rev. Fr Pearth an Australian and included two clerical students Rev. Mr O’Grady and Rev. Mr Carroll. The game ended in a draw, 47 runs each, and the “team were entertained to tea in Mr Peter O’Brien’s home, where they spent an enjoyable evening.” For the 1942, Rev. Fr Shine was elected President of Tubbergregan CC, the Secretary was Mr Anthony O’Brien, the Treasurer was Mr James Stone, the Captain was Mr P. Lynch and Mr P. O’Brien was Vice-Captain, At the AGM, a vote of thanks was passed to Mrs Gormley for the use of the cricket field.
Ballymadun, Oldtown, Baldwinstown and Naul Hill joined Tubbergregan in the Fingal League. This was a successful season for Tubbergregan CC, and it beat Walshestown comprehensively in the Fingal League final which was played at Rush. P. P. O’Brien scored a “faultless” 53 out of a score of 69 runs for Tubbergregan and Walshestown ended up on a score of 29 for 7. Unfortunately, two of the publicans in Garristown and some of the cricketers fell foul of the Law due to after-match festivities on one Sunday which necessitated a trip to the District Court: The Justice said that as he saw it there not be much doing in Garristown on a Sunday evening. The nightlife would not be very exciting and whatever café life would be available would be created by these two public houses…. These men were not bona fide travellers though they may have been bona fide cricketers. He imposed a fine of £3 without an endorsement and fined the men 3s each.
Baldwinstown and Ballymadun’s return to Fingal League cricket was short-lived, and Tubbergregan was the only club from the area which affiliated for the 1943 season. The highlight of the season was a game between a Phoenix 11 which contained several international cricketers and a Fingal 11 which was played at Clonard grounds. Thanks to “admirable fielding” and some superb bowling by Mooney, Russell, Murphy, and Hoare 5 wickets for 0 runs, Phoenix was restricted to 59 runs. In reply, Fingal scored 62, with the main contributions coming from Caprani 19*, PP O’Brien 10 and Coleman 10.
Garristown was back in Fingal League cricket in 1944, but only played 1 season before leaving cricket again. Tubbergregan continued in Fingal cricket for a number of seasons. At its AGM in 1945, Mrs Gormley was again thanked for the use of the field, Anthony O’Brien and James Stone continued as Secretary and Treasurer respectively, the Captain was Patrick Lynch, the Vice-Captain was Chris Morgan, and Bob Doyle NT, was elected Vice-President. In one of the early games in the season, Tubbergregan’s victory over Balrothery was the big surprise of that weekend. Balrothery had only lost three times at home since the club was founded 11 years ago, and Tubbergregan was the first team from West Fingal to beat them. On the day, much of the credit for the victory went to the bowlers, Pat O’Brien who took 4 wickets for 8 runs including a hat-trick and M. Kiernan, 3 wickets for 8 runs. Later in the season, P. O’Brien scored 51* while playing for Rush in the Leinster League and he was presented with a bat by an anonymous donor for being the first Rush batsman to make 50 runs after 1 August.
In 1946, the Leinster Cricket Club sponsored a Festival week at Rathmines, and a Fingal Selection was invited to play against Leinster 111. The report on this game mentioned that the Fingal selection “looked very clean and neat in their whites which was very necessary for this big occasion.” Fingal scored 171 for 6 declared, the opening pair of P. A. O’ Brien and T. Murphy contributed 46 to the total. Leinster scored 66 in reply because the Fingal attack and fielding was “too good.”
The 1946 Final was not played until 1947 because Tubbergregan indicated that it would not fulfil a fixture that was scheduled for so late in the season 27 October. The game should have been played a month ago, but “harvesting operations had delayed the holding of the game.” Farming matters intervened again at the start of the 1947 season with the AGM having to be postponed due to the large number of members engaged in the tillage drive. The 1946 final was eventually played on 29 June 1947 and resulted in a facile win for Balrothery who scored 53 runs against Tubbergregan who only scored 15 runs having “collapsed before the splendid bowling of Russell and Mooney.”
In 1947 and 1948, Tubbergregan did not affiliate to the Fingal League, but opted to play in Meath. It is a matter of conjecture whether this decision related to the impasse which had occurred regarding the arrangements for the previous year’s final. Also other sports may have been taking priority. Ballymadun Athletic Club was thriving, and the driving force was P. P. O’Brien, who in addition to acting as an official, took part in a few of the competitions, and dead-heated with PC Creagh in the one-mile walk event. The Handball club in Garristown was also doing well, and again P. P. O’Brien was involved.
This was also a period when emigration was rife in Ireland, and the Garristown Notes of 29 September 1951 gave details of 1 person from the area who was emigrating, and going to meet three other people from Garristown who had already emigrated to Australia. One of those emigrants was Peter P. O’Brien who had left Tubbergregan in 1950, and was the recipient of a valuable present from Danestown CC prior to his departure. There are no further references to cricket in Tubbergregan after the 1948 season.
In the early 1950s, cricket was in decline in Fingal, but there was a brief resurgence in 1953, and Garristown affiliated to the Fingal League again. However, Cottrellstown, a new club, was an even more significant affiliation because among its membership was Peter O’Brien who was home on holidays from Australia. In addition to playing with Cottrellstown during the season, he played in the Leinster League with Bellew and Deanhill. His impact on Cottrellstown was immediate, and the team reached the final of the Fingal League in its first year of membership when it lost to Walshestown in a low scoring game, 18 runs to 11. The following year, the same two teams contested the final, but on this occasion, the result was reversed. Walshestown batted first and scored 22 runs. In reply, Cottrellstown scored runs for the loss of 6 wickets. The Fingal League Cup was presented to Mr T. Moore, Captain of the winners, “amidst great applause”.
That season Cottrellstown also competed for the Dunsany Cup, and eliminated Mounthanover, the Headford Cup winners in the semi-final. The team was captained by P. P. O’Brien who returned to Australia on the Wednesday after this great victory. Cottrellstown also reached the Fingal League Final in 1955 but lost to Balrothery on a score of 26 to 22 runs. At the Fingal League’s annual dance, when P. P. O’Brien’s name was called to receive a runners-up medal, the President of the League, Mr PJ Daly, paid him the following handsome tribute: I sincerely regret that Mr O’Brien that night was far, far away from Fingal. Their absent friend was a good Irishman and grand all-round sportsman, and he felt confident that all present that night in the hall would heartily join with him in wishing Peter O’Brien a bumper measure of happiness and prosperity in the land of his adoption.
In 1956, soaring emigration had impacted on all sports and all aspects of life. With specific reference to cricket, the number of teams affiliated to the Fingal League had declined appreciably and a special meeting was convened in late November to review the state of Fingal League cricket. Some members argued that the Fingal League should be dissolved, but the majority viewpoint was in favour of persevering. The revival campaign was unsuccessful in the short-term, because only 5 teams affiliated for the 1957 season, and half-way through the season Cottrellstown withdrew from the League. The report on the Drogheda Independent was unsure if the withdrawal was due to a shortage of players or a lack of interest, but it was sad that a team which had won the Fingal League as recently as 1954 was forced to withdraw from cricket.
Some of its players had featured with Tubbergregan when it won the Fingal League in 1942, and prior to that the “big guns” in the area had been Ballymadun and Baldwinstown. The loss of Cottrellstown was a body blow for the Fingal League, and it meant that “after some 35 years in West Fingal, cricket gets a rest.”
It is pointless to speculate on the reasons for cricket dying out in an area, and invariably, it is never one reason, but a confluence of them which are triggered by a tipping point.
In some instances, it is the loss of a field to play on. In other instances, it is the loss of players or the loss of interest by a small group which over the years had managed to keep a club afloat, but then ran out of energy or enthusiasm.
In an area of low population, it will always be difficult to maintain two teams in different sports especially when there are clashes of fixtures, and with Garristown GAA club thriving, this represents another possible reason for cricket ceasing in West Fingal.
In the case of Garristown, and in the absence of conclusive evidence for the decline of cricket, rather than apportioning blame, it is more appropriate to commend the patrons, administrators, and players who over a 75-year period provided a sporting, social and cultural outlet for the people of Garristown and surrounding districts.
Thanks to Joe Curtis for all the images provided.