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Eagleson remains keen to soar at Carrick

By Ian Callender

Ryan Eagleson is no stranger to hat-tricks. The Ireland and Carrickfergus cricketer can boast of two during his long career, and he was able to celebrate another treble on Sunday when the east Antrim club completed a hat-trick of trophies with victory in the Ulster Shield final.

Success in the Ulster 40-over competition followed Carrick's triumphs in the NCU Twenty20 Trophy and the 50-over all-Ireland National Cup – and there is still a fourth trophy up for grabs which will earn them promotion into the Premier League, if they win two of their remaining three Section One games.

It would crown a dream season for Carrick in which 39-year-old Eagleson, who played 65 times for Ireland, retiring in 2005 with back problems – the year before Ireland reached the world stage – is still playing a full part.

"The National Cup has been only going three years, and the guys enjoy the travelling and playing new teams, but the one that I enjoyed most was the Twenty20. It was at home, the club ensured it was a great day off the field, with lots of entertainment and there was a big crowd," says Eagleson.

"I don't know how long it had been since we had won a cup, so, for me personally, that was the best. It was the first trophy and gave us the belief to go on."

The Shield victory on Sunday was a good comeback win for the team, having lost to Downpatrick the previous day in the league, off the fifth ball of the last over.

"We managed to contain Downpatrick in the middle overs of the final and needed only 154. Michael Gilmour got us off to a bit of a flyer and we coasted home, knocking them off in 32 overs," added Eagleson.

It was also a second man of the match in the finals for Indrajeet Kamtekar, their shrewd signing from Muckamore.

"The committee identified that we needed someone with more experience, and Kami has been here for X amount of years and he has been fantastic.

"Iain Parkhill had been away from the club for seven years but he came back a couple of years ago, took over the captaincy last year, has added steel at the top of the order and with Gilmour they are a perfect opening combination.

"With Jamie Holmes, Kami, myself and young Alex Haggan it is a good top six and then with the ball there is me and Kami, Haggan, Anthony Martin, Richard Hood and Stevie Grant's left arm spin. So we have all bases covered."

Anyone watching Eagleson bowl this season, and with no memory of his international career, would assume he was a slow bowler but the raw young pace bowler has now been replaced by a much older, thinking bowling.

"I bowled seam for the first three games of the year but I was waking up the next day and my knees were swelling up. So, in the Challenge Cup game at Cliftonville, I decided to bowl off a few paces. It came out all right and, ever since, I decided this was the way forward. Boys struggle against slow bowling in our leagues and, at my age, why run off 30 paces when I can get away with three!?

"It will also give me a few more years playing, maybe. I see Decker (Curry, his former Ireland team-mate) is going strong at 47 and he is still producing the goods, so as long I am contributing, I will keep going.

"The Carrick boys have grown up together and enjoy it and I would miss the banter. My son, Finn, is three and a half now and watches me so as long as he is doing that, I will continue to play," is Eagleson's take on his long-term future.

Short-term, the league is there to be won and Eagleson is looking forward to another crack in the big time.

"We have Dundrum and Downpatrick this weekend and Cliftonville the following week, so will be looking for our fourth trophy."

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