Dundalk Cricket Club marched in the St Patrick’s Day Parade last week for only the second time in their history and anyone witnessing the turnout compared to their previous outing in 2012 would have noticed a significant difference.
In 2012 it had been mostly the older exclusively male members of the club displaying their Leinster 2011 trophy. Fast forward to 2014 and suddenly there were about 14 girls resplendent in their whites marching alongside the club. Aged from 13 upwards, these are the girls of St Vincent’s secondary school cricket team.
Although they are very much their own team, the girls of the school have been mentored under the guidance of the club who have provided weekly training sessions in the school gym under the club’s coaches.
The association with Dundalk Cricket Club came about through two of the schools teachers, the cricketing sisters Deborah and Louise Challoner, who are members of Dundalk Cricket Club and regularly turn out for the club’s second XI in the Leinster League.
Progress has been good in the team and they have now come to the attention of the sports governing body, Cricket Ireland, who on Thursday, March 13 sent down their Leinster development officer Brian O’Rourke to take a look. This visit has been crucial to the development of the side and although they have only been practicing for a few months, Brian noted that they are certainly up to the standard of other school sides in Leinster.
In a move to further progress their development, the team will be taken in the near future for their first outdoor training session by Brian O’Rourke at the King’s Hospital, this will be a two hour hardball session and game on the same day. Further fixtures are in the offing with home and away matches against a club from the north and fixtures in Leinster.
The work being done in St Vincent’s is an important addition to the cricket scene in Dundalk and it is hoped it will in time prove to be a springboard for youth cricket in the town. Of course there are high hopes that the girls will go on to join the club proper and provide the bedrock for the future ladies team.
Enormous credit must go to Deborah and Louise Challoner for the time and dedication that they have volunteered to get this venture off the ground.