ICU Annual, 1990
The first Interprovincial matches ever played in Ireland took place in Rathmines in July 1890. The Leinster Club loaned the ground for a week. With a very commendable sporting spirit the Club agreed to defray all incidental expenses of advertising, entertaining, etc. The surplus gate money, if any, was to be devoted to furthering the proposed Irish Cricket Union. There probably was no surplus as the Leinster versus Ulster match, scheduled to be the last of the three, on Friday and Saturday, was almost completely rained off.
Some players had a very busy time. On Friday and Saturday preceding the interprovincial week Ireland played Scotland in Edinburgh (a draw, heavily in Scotland’s favour). This left the Sunday for Irish players to get to Dublin in time to play in the Leinster versus Munster match which started on Monday. Five of the international XI took part in the interprovincial week. MW Gavin was on duty for Munster on Monday morning as was the Irish and Leinster captain, JH Nunn and also JL Fleming. W Booth (Leinster) and W Vint (Ulster) were on duty later in the week after returning from Scotland. The other six internationals did not play in Dublin during the week. They were FH Browning, WF Thompson, WJ Synnott, JM Meldon and CL Johnson who might all have played for Leinster, Thompson and Meldon having been selected to do so. T Hughes was the sixth who would have played for Ulster.
Leinster started the match versus Munster with seven first choices and four others, who, judging by their names and standard must have been last minute substitutes of the “anyone will do” variety! However six of the seven original choices were all international players — DN Trotter, who, in 1875 was the youngest player to play for Ireland before or since, CD Barry, E Fitzgerald, JH Nunn, JL Fleming and A Penny.
A small attendance on a threatening day watched Leinster start versus Munster on Monday, July 14. There was criticism of the substitutes on the Leinster team. Munster were also not at full strength but they could boast five internationals in F.W Kennedy, M.W.Gavin, T Considine, Sir George Colthurst and TC Trotter. In 75 overs Leinster were all out for 187, after being 103 for two and 170 for five. Trotter (43), E Fitzgerald (47) and JH Nunn (51*) all played well but a lot of chances were not accepted. Perrott took five for 67 and T Considine two for four at the end of the innings.
By close of play Munster were 150 for three, with some play lost to two heavy showers. C Guy (33) and W Johns (23) put up 52 for the first wicket and FW Kennedy was 57 not out at the end. A boundary rated three runs and a hit out of the ground earned four.
Munster continued their good work the next day. Kennedy got to 95 and P Considine 31 but the tail failed and the lead was restricted to 54. JL Fleming’s leg breaks brought him seven for 64.
Leinster reasserted themselves at this stage. Despite losing Trotter for nought, they built up 217 for five before the recent novelty of a declaration was indulged in. Six players made 22 or more. SH Guest reached 58, E Fitzgerald 41 and CF Ruxton 36 not out.
Munster needed 163 to win but were hanging on at 95 for eight by the end. They were in fact 74 for eight with rain falling and 15 minutes to go. The rain was ignored but Colthurst and T Considine played out time. 39 overs were bowled. Fleming added to his first innings haul by bowling through the innings and taking give for 38.
On Wednesday and Thursday it was Ulster’s turn to take on Munster. Wednesday sufficed! 38 wickets fell in the day for 179 runs. Ulster, needing 36 to win, got home by two wickets!
Only five bowlers were seen throughout the day. EB Killen (medium overarm), two for 32 and W Turner (fast medium round arm), seven for 29, removed Munster, unchanged, for 64 in 54 ball overs. Next time round these two only needed 28 overs, Killen, three for 14, and, Turner, six for nine, to see Munster off for 25. Strangely no Munster player got a pair.
In between these two innings Munster had a brief moment of glory. They led by 10 on first innings. In just over 21 overs Ulster scored 54. TC Perrott took four for 23, E Considine three for 27 and J Stone, the fifth bowler of the day, took one for four in seven balls. There were two run outs. Throughout the day there were five run outs in all.
Ulster set off after 36 to win. They just managed it after 29 overs and two balls. Five were out for 21. The sixth wicket, the vital one of the Ulster Captain, W Vint, fell at 30. He was bowled by Stone. At the same score Stone bowled two more, so it was 30 for eight. After several maidens JC Warwick hit a boundary three after being in 30 minutes without scoring. J Andrews cut another boundary and the job was done. Stone led four for 10 in his 15 overs, 12 maidens.
W Vint was the hero of the day in the Ulster batting line up. He made 11 and 18, one third of the runs. Born in Helen’s Bay, Co. Down in 1852, he played 10 times for Ireland (1879-92) and died in 1897. In the mid 1880’s he was in Australia and played once for Victoria.
Vint gave pride of place to M.W.Gavin of Munster for highest score for the match, Gavin making 19 in Munster’s first innings.
The weather was very fine for this match and the attendance much larger than for the first game. “The pitch was described as treacherous and queer from the start. To the eye the crease looked well enough but it as with all decidedly spongy and the effect of the warm sun upon the sodden ground was anything but beneficial from a batman’s point of view. Still making allowances for the pitch the batting on both sides was very disappointing”.
It was with great regret that the Ulster versus Leinster match, started on Friday, was almost completely washed away. Play was abandoned after half an hour never to be resumed. Leinster were batting and the score was 14 for one, Nunn skying Killen to wicket-keeper, W.Vint for nine. For this match Ulster left out EL Vint (who was to play for Ireland in 1895) and FW Harris. J Tarleton and McGonagle came in.
Trotter was unable to play for Leinster. The substitutes v Munster were removed and in came three internationals, SC Smith, W Booth and EF Casey.
While all this cricket was in progress there were meetings in Dublin to start an Irish Cricket Union. Earlier, in July 1890, Phoenix had indicated that they would favour this and they were, at the time, the MCC of Ireland.
The Northern Union had begun in 1887 but there was no Union anywhere else, and no competitive cricket anywhere else. In fact senior status competitive cricket in Leinster did not start until 1919, it being frowned upon prior to World War One.
There were murmurings of an Irish Cricket Union in 1884 but nothing came of it. Obviously there was great opportunity of starting something with so many cricket personalities in Dublin for the interprovincials of 1890.
At the conclusion of the Ulster v Munster match on Wednesday, July 16, a meeting was held in Rathmines. To quote the Irish Times: “There was a large and representative gathering of cricketers with Sir George Colthurst (Munster) in the chair. Messrs. Andrews and Vint (Ulster) having spoken in support of the Union decided to adjourn until 4.30pm next day (the match having finished in one day) when the matter will be gone into in more detail at Phoenix CC. Another large attendance came to Phoenix CC next day and from the tone of the speeches the success of the venture would seem to be assured.”
Lord Chief Justice Barry took the chair and JH Kenny acted as Honorary Secretary to the meeting.
The Chairman stated that the objects of the meeting were well known to all present. The Lord Chief Justice did not pretend to be very erudite as to the various details of the movement but was at the service of the meeting and had the deepest interest in the game.
Sir George Colthurst was called upon. He said that they were meeting principally for the purpose of receiving suggestions from provincial cricketers and thrashing the matter out. Here, under one roof, were the representatives of the four provinces and that opportunity might not happen again. The interchange of opinions would result in immediate and practical benefits. The establishment of a central body for the administration of Irish cricket would make its progress much easier. He had been out of Ireland for five years and, on his return, he found that cricket had deteriorated everywhere except in Ulster. This exception he attributed to the establishment of the Northern Cricket Union which had worked wonders. He trusted that the general union which they were now endeavouring to establish would succeed in doing the same. Ireland wanted to see the best 11 men that she could command irrespective of class or situation and no one could deny that some of her best talent might be left to blush unseen if there was no body to recognise or bring it out.
Many a young fellow of great promise and skill never got a chance and if this proposed union was a means of improving such a state of affairs it must raise a new hope and emulation amongst the provincial cricketers of Ireland. If they now make a good start the ball would keep rolling of itself but if the present effort was a failure he would despair of the future of Irish cricket (cheers).
The Chairman then called on Mr J Andrews Jun. to give his views. Mr Andrews, in a very practical speech, detailed the workings of the Northern Cricket Union. He said that they had a general meeting early in January each year with every club sending two delegates for the first 100 of their members and one more for any part of 100 over that. These then elected a Council of 20 any member of whom might represent the same club provided that they were energetic and useful and if any man was found amiss or wanting in any respect he was quickly made to resign in favour of the one who meant business. Mr Jackson then proposed and Sir George seconded that an Irish Cricket Union be now started and that MrKenny be requested to communicate with the various Honorary Secretaries of the provinces asking them to nominate delegates to meet in convention at some suitable future time, in Horse Show Week in Dublin, for the purpose of drafting rules.
Mr McCarthy suggested that no good could come of the present meeting transferring its duties to posterity. Let them do something practical and tangible at once. Let a committee be elected and the members of it named straight off. Let them enter on their duties under the rules proposed in 1884 and if these were defective they could be very easily improved and remodelled but let there be something substantial to start on before they parted.
Sir George Colthurst said that this was what he wanted and he would call on Mr George Barry, the veteran of veterans, to nominate a competent committee.
Mr Barry lost no time in suggesting E Fitzgerald (Dublin University); T.J.S.Casey (Phoenix); W Vint (NICC); J Andrews (NICC) and himself (Leinster). These were elected unanimously and, on suggestion of Sir George Colthurst, JM Meldon (Connaught) and FW Kennedy (Munster) were also elected.
They held their first meeting next evening in Leinster CC at 6.30pm. Mr Hurford then proposed that a subscription list to defray preliminary expenses be started and in a few minutes £30 was subscribed. The meeting then closed with a cordial vote of thanks to the Chairman. Mr JH Fleming was Honorary Secretary, Irish Cricket Union pro tern.
On Saturday evening the above mentioned meeting took place. W Vint took the chair. It was decided that unions should be formed in Leinster, Munster and Connaught similar to the Northern Union and that, after having formed such unions, they should be empowered to send three delegates each to meet and form a central union to make rules and carry out details.
Within a week a union was formed in Leinster which always called itself “The Leinster Branch of the Irish Cricket Union” until it became an independent union in 1902.