We caught up with Rob O Connor to chat about Leinster CC who have a fantastic girls and womens setup at the club. One exciting initiative that the club are hoping to run again this year is the “Give It A Blast” programme that has proved to be very successful by all accounts.
‘Give It A Blast’ was setup by Alison Crawford and Rob himself. Speaking on how the programme runs Rob tells us “its a half day event where girls who have never played cricket before are invited to come down to the club and give cricket a go. The girls can come and go as they please. We have different challenges and games set up all around the pitch where all female players in the club are present on the day. Anyone that takes part also receives a free bat and ball.” On recruiting the girls to the event, he says “we did one 30 minute session with every class in all the local schools which was a real hit. We gave out flyers and the response was brilliant from both the schools and students.” There were huge numbers at the event itself which saw 150 girls take part on the day in its first year.
The club have 3 women's teams which consists of about 42 players and approx 6/7 girls teams. Of course this didn't happen by chance. "Many people have been instrumental in driving the girls section in the club. In terms of girls youth cricket, credit must go to the likes of Clarissa Pilkington, Pat Banahan, Colette Brannigan and many others over the years. Isolda Howard was instrumental in growing women's cricket at Leinster Cricket Club along with other coaches such as Nigel Pyne and Paul Cron who have been real drivers of the women's game at the club. It also must be said that the club itself have been so supportive in developing our women's and girls section”
There are many young coaches that get involved during the summer which is brilliant to see. “Some of the younger girls love coaching. Jenny Sparrow does amazing work in the club along with Beth Diamond, Isabel Saeed-Maguire and Maria Kerrison.”
On speaking on recruiting youth players Rob says ”we are very lucky that the location is very central and close to many schools which really helps gaining new members. During the summer on Sunday mornings, we run cricket activities for 4-12 year olds for both boys and girls. This really works well. There are many families that come down and we find a lot of brothers and sisters taking part in the fun cricketing activities.”
Leinster CC has produced many women's international players over the years who are also involved in coaching at the club. “Laura Delany, Sophie Mc Mahon and Amy Kenealy have given so much of their time to the women's section and it's brilliant to have people with so much experience who have played at the highest level pass their knowledge on to others at the club.”