At 175 years old, Bagenalstown Cricket Club is the second oldest Cricket club in the country and has had its highs and lows during this time. From not being able to field enough players to make up two teams just a few years ago, to having all three of their teams promoted from their respective divisions this season, their story is that of a fairy tale. In recent years, it has gone from strength to strength.
Back in 2015, the first team won Division 8 and got promoted to Division 7 and there would have been high hopes for more success the following season. However, the 2016 season was just not to be with the team in redevelopment stage, trying to bring through some talented youngsters. This season though there were no such problems with the youngsters maturing and starting to turn their potential into match winning performances. Thanks to the hard work put into the team and the enthusiasm brought by new captain, Bernard O’Mara, the club got promoted to Division 6 and are still within a chance of becoming Division 7 champions. Marcel Bruns starred for them with the bat, getting 380 runs with an average of 63.33 and got his maiden century whilst Shane O’Neill (22 wickets at an average of 18.45) and Sunny Charles (21 wickets at an average of 11.67) starred with the ball in their hand.
The story of the second team is a fascinating one. They were also promoted and got to the Minor Cup Final for the second year in a row. Club spokesperson, Mat Baker, remembers a time when things weren’t looking so great for them. ‘In 2013, serious discussions took place about the club withdrawing its second team from the Leinster Cricket Union. We were sometimes struggling to get a second team out, and I remember a long trip out to Slieve Bloom with nine players. It’s a long way to go to get an inevitable beating’. This makes their exploits all the greater. The following season, they were relegated by two divisions. Things started to pick up for them in 2015 with them finally getting promoted to Division 13. 2016 saw them kick on from there and win the Minor Cup, the first ever Leinster trophy for the club. They also finished strongly in the league. That brings us on to this season. They again got to the Minor Cup Final and were promoted again. Shohab Ali Taj was the top scorer with the bat scoring 207 runs with an average of 34.5 whilst Ismail Mohammad starred with the ball in his hand finishing the season with a tally of 18 wickets at an average of 7.83.
The Third Team came into existence back in 2015 and endured a difficult first season. Their aim was to simply get through the season as they struggled to get eleven players out onto the pitch at times and lost all fourteen of their games. However, things started to pick up for them in 2016 as they won their first ever game and finished comfortably mid table, even flirting with a promotion push at one stage. 2017 however, was the making of them. With a mixture of experience in the form of some older players who just want to play Cricket and youth in the shape of players just starting out in the game, they managed to earn themselves promotion as champions. There were strong performances from Mat Baker who shone with the ball, getting 21 wickets at an average of 10.76, including 8/21, the best figures of anybody across the 16 divisions this season, and Rana Riaz who was the top performer with the bat, scoring 148 runs with an average of 74.
From struggling to field two teams each week to having three teams promoted in just four years, it’s safe to say that it has been an eventful few seasons for the small little club from a small little parish in the heart of the countryside of Co. Carlow. The club wishes to thank everybody that made this season so special for them from the players to the Chairman, Diarmuid Power, Secretary, Michael Dick, Groundsman and Treasurer, Sean Farrell, Communications Officer, Mat Baker and the families of the players for all their support and patience. It’s safe to say that this little club has a great future ahead of it and if you would like to be part of that, whether you’re young or old, a man or woman, please contact the club on their Facebook page, Bagenalstown Cricket Club or email firstname.lastname@example.org.