CUCUMBER sandwiches with crusts cut off, rugs and pillows by the wicket and all-whites that got the Daz (but no Pimm’s) - No it wasn’t Lords or even Mount Juliet but St Lachtain’s GAA grounds in Freshford. In what was a fascinating afternoon, two teams (which included two females) re-enacted a cricket match of over 100 years ago - The Freshford Hopefuls and the Freshford Emeralds.
You would have to be bowled over by the audacity of the people in the Irish Conker Championships who staged the event as part of National Heritage Week.. There was a strong international element to proceedings with players from India, Pakistan, England, France as well as Kilkenny, Thomastown, Bagenalstown and of course Freshford taking part. Local man Martin Rafter had never played cricket before and decided to give it a go and was delighted that he did. “It was good fun and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves ,” he said after scoring nine runs.
City legal eagle, Brian Kiely was also present having retired from the game he loves some years ago. He acted as umpire and did a good job of it, entering into the sprit of proceedings and allowing the players great latitude. One delighted onlooker was Veni Yuddanda, originally from India who was present to watch her husband Prasad. He is a doctor in St Luke’s Hospital, Kilkenny and played as a student in his native country and still plays the odd match in Bagenalstown. He was one of the stars of the afternoon and the Diaspora was completed when legendary nun, Sr Patricia Dee originally from Ballylongford in North Kerry walked over from nearby Prague House for a look and deemed herself delighted with the turn-out.
In the glory days of Irish cricket, over 100 years ago the names of Phelan, Rafter, Dillon, Colclough, Dooley and Campion were regular players on the Freshford cricket team. During Sunday’s “cricket challenge” these names were spresent and playing cricket with great gusto. Both teams took on a cosmopolitan feel with names of Singh, Shah, Lijo, Rahul and Passad joining in to produce a very competitive but fairly fought contest.
For the record ‘The Freshford Hopeful’ won the match by 4 runs in a 20 over match and the result was in doubt up to the last ball. After 20 overs the winning team had a score of 113 for 9 wickets. The runners up had a score of 110 with some spirited batting from Martin Rafter (9), Martin Phelan (10), Cillian Hughes (12) and Ned Phelan (22) which included 3 sixes. John Cuddihy unlucky to be caught out after a great high dive. The winning team included two local ladies; Susan Murphy and Sarah O’Neill who both contributed scores to the winning total.
The tea interval between innings was presented by the Freshford Country Market and was highly appreciated by both teams and the spectators alike. A string quartet ‘Dolce’, kept the nerves calm at the tea interval. The other umpire at the match was Jack Short, an ex-Irish International opening batsman who also provided coaching to the beginners earlier that morning.
The teams were: ‘The Freshford Hopeful’ – Rahul, Ross Harding, Sarah O’Neill, Eamon Dooley, John Campion, Joe Colclough, Shah, Lijo, Alan Freaney, Charlie Colclough, John Cuddihy, Dowd, Susan Murphy, and David Condon. ‘The Freshford Emerald’ – Martin McHale, Prasad, Peter Fellows Mc Culla, Richard Butler, Cillian Hughes, Martin Phelan, Wayne Dillon, Ned Phelan, Martin Rafter, Ken Tynan, Paul Donlan, G. Singh and Brendan Jenkinson.