Noel was the umpire I stood with most in my own career and it was always a pleasant experience, sharing many laughs together.

An accomplished left-arm spinner and stylish right-handed batsman, Noel was an integral part of Ardmore for many years, before going into umpiring.

He soon developed a real flair for officiating and made his way quickly up the ranks, going from club to interprovincial level, and eventually international level, doing Ireland against Bangladesh at Eglinton back in 2008.

Noel Ward and Charlie McElwee umpiring Ireland v Bangladesh at Eglinton

He was held in high regard by players and peers alike, his quiet but authoritative demeanour perfect for the role.

We stood together in a lot of Ulster Bank Schools Cup matches at Foyle College, which were always enjoyable being able to watch the next generation develop.

In recent times he has struggled with his hips, and is on the waiting list for operations which hopefully will come very soon.

His company at matches is always treasured and it will be a pleasure to see him fit and raring again.