For many years, the European Cricket Council organised tournaments at Under 13, 17 and 19 age groups for Ireland, Scotland, Denmark, and the Netherlands. For some players, these tournaments were the highlight of their cricketing careers, and it was unfortunate that the tournaments were dispensed with due to a combination of circumstances, with budgetary considerations and value for money being the principal reasons provided. By 2010, the international games for youth cricketers had been reduced to a series of games between Ireland and Scotland at Under 15 and Under 17 levels, and a qualifying tournament for the U19 World Cup.

In 2010, the Under 17 games were hosted by the North West Cricket Union, and the Tournament Directors were Mary and Charlie McElwee. Ryan Eagleson and John Semple were the Irish Management team, and the captain was Andrew Mc Brine. The final game in the series was played at Glendermott, and due to a breakdown in communication, a Player of the Series trophy had not been sourced. The local knowledge of John Watson and Junior McBrine was of invaluable assistance and with John Watson as guide, a trip across Derry to Johnny Crossan’s shop was undertaken. We crossed the New Bridge, saw all the sights of Derry, and when we arrived at the shop, Johnny Crossan was deep in conversation with a number of elderly gentlemen. We outlined our dilemma and Johnny told us not to worry, that the engraved trophy would be ready in the afternoon. Johnny also mentioned that he had met Lance Gibbs, the West Indian cricketer, while Johnny was playing for Sunderland.

Jordan CoghlanJordan Coghlan

We went back to the Rectory, had lunch, and set off across Derry again with Junior McBrine as navigator on this occasion. The trophy was paid for, and we eventually got back to watch some cricket. Scotland had batted first and scored 173 runs in 37.5 overs. The wickets taken were shared among the five bowlers with Andrew Mc Brine, Graham McCarter and Barry McCarthy taking 2 wickets, and there was one wicket for David Campbell and Ben Wylie. Unfortunately, there was a rain delay, and on the DL calculation, Ireland was set to score 160 runs. During the rain delay, Michael Dwyer, the legendary Hills’ wicket keeper, retreated to the bar with his friend, Junior McBrine, and his new friends from Glendermott CC, and by the end of the rain interruption, Michael had committed The Hills to pre-season friendlies with Glendermott on a home and away basis for at least the next 10 seasons.

When the game resumed, the Irish batting struggled, and at 94 runs for 9 wickets, there were hurried consultations with the scorecards for the previous games to ascertain the Scottish player who would be named as Player of the Tournament. The last batsman in was Simon Olphert, the Irish wicketkeeper, and with Jordan Coghlan (right), the aim was to achieve respectability. This pair batted and batted, and gradually, the sizeable home support began to think about the possibility of a home victory. Craig Wright, the Scottish coach, was working his way through a variety of emotions as the Irish revival gained momentum. The 66-run stand between Coghlan (40*) and Olphert (23*) gave an unexpected victory to Ireland and caused another review of scorebooks. Roly Black who was one of the umpires expressed the view that the decision on Player of the Tournament had probably been changed 5 or 6 times during the course of this game.

Move forward about 5 years, and my younger son, James, who works with AXA, met his future wife, Carla while he was working in Derry. On the first occasion that I met Carla, I told her about my trips over and back across Derry to get the trophy. I mentioned in passing that there were some elderly gentlemen in Johnny Crossan’s shop, and she said, “one of those men was my grandaddy”. Small world!