Looking back over 50 years of youth competitions run by Cricket Leinster there is a certain ebb and flow as clubs go through periods of relative success and others where the results are not so positive. Is there anything to be learnt from this history? What were the special ingredients that led some clubs to improve the performance of their youth sections at particular times and what happened that lead to a decline. One thing is clear – no club has a magic formula that guarantees success. Lessons have to be re-learnt and adapted for different environments.
This is perhaps an overlong preamble to an article on the last five decades of schoolboys competitions in Cricket Leinster [the results for the girls competitions will follow]. But the breakdown of results for over 350 competitions may provide some insights for clubs looking to review the operation of their youth sections.
Let us start with the core records. The destination of titles going back to the first recorded Schoolboy Vacation league in 1942 are now available in the Cricket Leinster Online Archive [go to Menu > Archive > Competitions]. Of particular interest are the records since the early 1970s when the LCU Youth Section really got going. There are a few records missing. This may be because the competition was not held in that particular year. In some cases the records are simply missing. But someone may remember. There is a list of missing records at the end of this article – if you think you can fill in any of the blanks please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Looking back over the whole history of youth cricket in Leinster, Clontarf comes out on top with 69 titles [the records only cover the A Teams in each age group]. There is an impressive distance between them and the next two clubs, YMCA and Merrion, who each have 45. The full table is set out below.
In terms of the overall spread of titles, four clubs have managed to get their name on each one of the 11 competitions – Clontarf, YMCA, Merrion and Pembroke.
Focussing on the five decades from the 1970s to the 2010s, it is interesting to chart who were the most successful clubs in each decade and the concentration of titles among the top three clubs. The following table sets out the total number of competitions, the concentration of titles as a percentage of the total and the top three clubs and their position, titles and percentage. In three cases a single club won over 30% of the competitions over a decade. Merrion in the 1970s [but from a limited number of competitions], Clontarf in the 1990s and most impressive of all YMCA in the 2010s. During this last period YMCA won 31 titles [36% of the total] and this from a platform of only winning a single title in the previous ten years.
Clontarf, Leinster and Merrion share the distinction of achieving a podium spot three times each. But perhaps the main message is that from among the existing clubs only six have been in the top three over a decade.
The full breakdown of titles by decade is set out below for existing clubs. The data provides plenty by way of motivation and shows how clubs have risen quickly and improved their performance from one period to the next. There are also warnings that past returns are no guarantee of future earnings [as the adverts say].
How well have different clubs done in keeping strong teams together and successful through the different age groups. To make a stab at this we have taken the five main leagues [U11 – U19] and divided them between the younger age groups [U11 and U13] and the older age groups [U15 – U19].
In this case it is noticeable how Malahide, Terenure and N County seem to do better at the older age groups. Of course there may be many reasons why this might be the case.
Another way of looking at this is to try to identify how often successful teams at U11 / U13 levels did in later years. It is unlikely that there will ever be agreement on which was the strongest individual team through the years but there are some strong contenders. Again just focussing on the main league competitions we see that YMCA, Leinster and Belvedere all had teams that went through the U11 – U15 age groups as title holders between 2013 and 2017, 1985 and 1989 and 1991 and 1995 respectively. The YMCA team that won the U11 in 2012 went one better – adding the 2020 U19 title to their list of honours.
But two teams secured the clean sweep with all five league titles from U11 to U19. In 2008, North County won the U11s League and that team retained their dominance through to winning the U19 title in 2016. The other team was from Merrion. They won league titles between 1998 and 2006.
Clubs have also had particularly successful years. YMCA and Clontarf won five titles each in 2014 and 1999 - the most of any club. Other years of particular success for clubs.
1974 Carlisle 3/4
1982 YMCA 4/5
1989 Clontarf 4/6
1991 Belvedere 4/7
1992 Belvedere 4/7
1999 Clontarf 5/8
2001 Clontarf 4/8
2003 Clontarf 4/8
2004 Malahide 4/8
2005 Merrion 4/8
2006 Merrion 4/9
2013 YMCA 4/9
2014 YMCA 5/9
2015 YMCA 4/9
2017 YMCA 4/9
2018 YMCA 4/9
2019 Pembroke 4/7
In 2020 three clubs, YMCA, Pembroke and Clontarf shared all the trophies between them. The last time this was done was in 1978 when the three clubs were Merrion, YMCA and Malahide.
Finally, if anyone can fill in the missing results for the following competitions please let us know.
Schoolboys Vacation League 1957, 1958, 1962, 1967, 1971 and 1972
U15 Boys Cup 2019
U15 Boys League 2011 and 2019
U13 Boys Cup [Top 4] 2010