The Ireland tour was a risk, a risk that nearly did not pay off. Not only were the travel arrangements decidedly last minute, but also there was the fact that most of the people in the tour party had only met each other on a few occasions. By the time everyone had had a few pints in the ferry bar, I was very glad we had all made it. By the time we all gathered for this photo on the last day in Kilkenny, I knew that it was time to start arranging the next tour. And maybe to start thinking about the one after that.
Pictured are (back L to R) Nicki Jordan, Sid Thomson, Rita Thomson, Amanda Hall, Windy Miller, Mad-Dog O'Shea, Tara Scoffield, Martin Watts, Ernie Sharland, Duncan Chave, (middle L to R) Peter Thomson, Deke Matravers, Kevin Barron, Python Price-Hughes, Colin Cecil, (front L to R) Naomi Sheffer, Kate Thomson, Adi Borley, Annie Thomson, Jim Thomson.
The friendliness of our hosts was magnificent. Kilrane staged a game for us, despite the fact that their pitch was so wet as to have a deep end and a shallow end. Bagenalstown let us stay in the Boys Brigade Hut after a scare about camp-site security. Richard Green, the skipper of Halverstown, let us camp on his farm and then provided us with a fantastic breakfast. Pat Kavanagh missed the point of lock-ins joining us on the paying side of the bar and leaving Derek Matravers and Martin Watts to act as bar staff.
We beat Kilrane by 16 runs after Paul O'Shea, with Ernie's help, cleared up the tail. Their last seven wickets fell for 15 runs. O'Shea and Sharland were again the spearhead as we won at Bagenalstown (Muine Bheag) by 31 runs. Sound catching was enough to bring us a 16 run victory at Halverstown, and Martin Watts scored the winning run as we beat Mount Juliet on their beautiful ground.
And it wouldn't have been the same without the dedicated, saturated and refrigerated supporters. Nicki Jordan was the first ever supporter of the tour and Derek Matravers was the player of the tour.