Once the First World War was over, efforts were made to reestablish sport in Dublin and elsewhere in Leinster. Sports like Racing, Hunting, Coursing, Golf, GAA sports and Soccer never stopped, but others nearly died. Rugby was something schoolboys played, and, most surprisingly, Ladies’ hockey was reduced to a few teams.
In cricket circles, a Junior League continued throughout the war years. Some clubs didn’t suspend their activities, while others did. Those clubs who carried on in the 1914-18 period, and which still exist today were Civil Service, Leinster, Pembroke, Merrion, Railway Union and Y.M.C.A. Clontarf, Dublin University and Phoenix were inactive. All other clubs have disappeared. There was no official senior cricket except for few charity matches and matches between clubs which gave all the appearance of being ‘senior’ on the basis of who was playing in them.
There were other clubs who are no longer in existence, in particular Richmond Asylum in Grangegorman and Pembroke Wanderers (long before they became a hockey club), at Serpentine Avenue. The Great Southern & Western Railway kept their engines running in Inchicore, and a club at U.C.D. was reformed after many years of inactivity in 1917. They played at University Park in Terenure, which I am quite sure is Lakelands Park today.
Outside Dublin, many rural teams carried on until 1918 when only Co. Meath (Navan) and Cork Co. could be considered as serious.
When a meeting was called in March 1919 to establish the Leinster Cricket Union, most clubs and some of the schools participated. However, the news spread around and by the end of April leagues had been formed, and schools matches had been arranged, although the schools operated throughout the war. Something had to happen to ensure a survival, and also in reality, a rebirth as the cricket playing population in Dublin had dwindled to only about 260 active players in 1918, if you exclude school teams.
Two leagues were formed: Intermediate and Junior. The Intermediate league was made up of teams from the 1918 junior league with some additions, and was divided into two sections:
A: Pembroke Wanderers, Richmond Asylum, Great Southern & Western Railways, Dublin University 2nds, Royal Hibernian Military School 2nds, U.C.D. 2nds.
B: Leinster 2nds, Civil Service 2nds, Y.M.C.A., Merrion, Old Belvedere (Jones’ Rd.), C.Y.M.S., Pembroke 2nds.
St. Columba’s College was assigned to Intermediate A, but after one match, which they drew, they left the league.
The Junior league was an odd collection as Leinster 3rds, D.U.C.C. 3rds, and others, like Raheny (a new club), decided not to be involved. It looked like this:
Merrion 2nds, Old Belvedere 2nds, Ordnance Survey (Phoenix Park), C.Y.M.S. 2nds, Avoca School Blackrock, Y.M.C.A. 2nds, Pembroke Wanderers 2nds.
As it happens, some cricket years are affected by rain, but the 1919 season was very pleasant, and no Saturday matches were washed out. There was almost no Sunday cricket in the Metropolis back then.
The season started on the 10th May, when Jack O’Donnell, playing for Merrion 2nds knocked off 102 against Old Belvedere 2nds, The significance about this is that it was the first post-war century at Junior level. In the same weekend, the G.S. & W.R. beat U.C.D. 2nds, due to J. Gibbon’s bowling analysis of 7-36. There were three other centuries in the Intermediate League that year, 101 scored by David Pickeman (later Pembroke, and then back to Leinster) for Leinster 2nds against Y.M.C.A on the 24th May, and 113 by an F. Price for G.S. & W.R against Dublin University 2nds on the 14th June. The last one was F. Connell’s 103 not out for Richmond Asylum against the Royal Hibernian Military School 2nds on the 30th August. J. O’Shaughnessy of Civil Service 2nds missed the ton by two runs in late June.
There were several fifties, but little consistency. George Dando, a stalwart of Richmond Asylum for many years, managed two, topping at 83. Alfred Bex of Leinster, who would finish his cricketing career in Merrion many year later, also scored two in Observatory Lane.
Bowling was the big thing in 1919. Indeed, one might consider it a paradise, if you are of that ilk, as many wickets were not of any quality. Let’s face the fact that Rolly Shortt (for Merrion) got 7-8 against C.Y.M.S. on the 21st June, and J.H. Ross (Y.M.C.A.) bagged 8 for 36 against Old Belvedere in the Intermediate League the next week. Rolly got another 8 wickets against Y.M.C.A. in July. There were many cases of 5 wickets or more in the Intermediate league. Unfortunately, as in pre-war years, figures for bowlers were not always given.
As to the Junior league, which was poorly reported, I can only mention one identifiable bowler: William Irwin Patrick McDonogh of Avoca School, better known as an Irish International Hockey player, who later played Senior Cricket for Trinity, bagged 5-22 & 7-25 in two of his matches.
Unfortunately, no league tables were published in the Newspapers in 1919, but we do know who won each league:
Leinster 2nds, having won their section of the Intermediate League knocked up 170 against Pembroke Wanderers 1sts (of Serpentine Avenue) at Civil Service on the 20th September. Yes, seasons started late and ended late back then. The Wanderers’ reply was a rather weak 107, as Harry Elgar Hopcroft bagged 5 of their wickets for 52, and it would appear, trundled through the whole of PW’s innings. Hopcroft was an example of somebody who might have been from the Castle, but he was still around in Dublin cricket a few years after Independence.
Pembroke Wanderers got their revenge in the Junior League, as their 2nds won their last match against Ordnance Survey at home on the 9th September. They got 114 and OS replied with 87/9, The records tell me that PW 2nds won that match, so OS must have been a player short. In that match Bertram Palmer of OS bagged 5 for 47. Obviously, he was another trundler who bowled through their whole innings.
So what about big scores and little scores. Leinster 2nds was the most likely team to get a big total. They had a large membership supported by people from the Castle and the Garrison, and they had one of the best wickets in Dublin. On the 24th May, they managed 245/7 against YMCA at Claremont Rd. For Leinster. Old timer J.V. McDonagh got 51 and others contributed to the total, YM replied with 225, distributed among the players. In their return match at home on the 21st June Leinster bowled YM out for 67 (Hopcroft 6-17) and decided on a bit of batting practice, cumulating 189 for the loss of seven wickets before time was called. William Hamilton Lambert of that family knocked up 62. However, they lost a close match with UCD 2nds away on the 16thAugust. The Nationals got 156, but Leinster could only manage 149. Instrumental in UCD’s win was the presence of the old International player, William Harrington, who was still playing cricket at a ripe old age down the country and in Dublin in 1935 (for St. Mary’s College OB: although he was from an English Jesuit college). He got 6/50. In reply, Bex managed 50 and picked up 5/43. The next week, Leinster 2nds, at home, achieved 234/4 against Old Belvedere’s 98. For Leinster, Bex got 87, and Hopcroft demolished Belvedere with figures of 8/27.
As to low scores, Pembroke 2nds stands out: 27 contra 198 at home against YMCA’s 198 at the end of May, only 47 the next Saturday (Merrion 147), 39 against CYMS’s 81 at the end of June, and 26 at home against G.S.W.R. (who knocked up 244) at the end of July. They rarely got over 100. In The Junior league the bottom (below 20, as scoring was low) was CYMS 2nds’s 19 against Pembroke Wanderers’ 2nd in June. Avoca School only managed 9 in their 2nd innings against Merrion 2nds on the 24/5. That must have been a time controlled match, as in the 1st innings Merrion had scored 54 and Avoca 52, but Merrion reached 64 in their 2nd innings.
Many new names appeared in 1919, or they were in some cases reappearances. Club membership exploded threefold from about 260 in 1918 to over 800 in 1919, despite the effects of the past four years, and the Spanish Flue the previous winter. Nobody actually knows how many died of that sickness, but an estimate suggests that it cost more Irish lives, male and female, old and young, than all the Irish casualties in Galipoli or on the Somme, and I’m sure that cricket was affected. If anyone knows anything about that in your family histories, you should speak out now. Between 50 and 100 million people died of the Spanish flue worldwide, and in Ireland, at least 30,000. In addition to the over 60’s and the very young, it hit 20-30 year old males worst everywhere! The R.I.C. lost 119 of its employees due to influenza in 1919, almost before a single shot had been fired in the War of Independence.