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Rising star Cara Murray out to become a big hitter for Ireland

By Ian Callender

Published 25/05/2016

Big talent: Cara Murray plays on six men’s and women’s cricket teams and also takes part in hockey and football at just 15 years of age
Big talent: Cara Murray plays on six men’s and women’s cricket teams and also takes part in hockey and football at just 15 years of age

Slowly but surely, the untapped talent that is ladies cricket in the Northern Cricket Union is beginning to take off - and it has the backing of Cricket Ireland.

Ten days ago, the women's inter-provincials - known as the Super 3s because there are three teams - which have been exclusively based and played in Dublin for the last two years came to Downpatrick and there was a Northern Ireland player involved.

Cara Murray is one of just five Ulster players in the three 15-women squads and at 15 years of age one of the youngest. But youth has proved no barrier to Cara, who has already represented Ireland at Under-17 level and has been identified as the third best female leg spinner in the country.

A regular on the Waringstown Ladies team, Cara also plays on the Saintfield men's 2nd and 3rd XIs and, only this week, has been asked to join The Hills, in Skerries, one of the leading teams in Leinster to play in their Ladies side.

It is another journey which Cara and, more importantly, her dad Philip is more than happy to make as she pursues her aim of making it all the way to the top and breaking into the all-Leinster Ireland senior side.

"Cara is part of the EPP (Emerging Performance Programme) which take place at YMCA in Dublin every Friday evening," explained Philip, who is still a regular on the Saintfield team as he enters his sixth decade.

"I have to get her out of school early to take her to that for the 5pm start and now Ireland international Ciara Metcalfe has asked her to play in the home games at least at the Hills and they play on a Thursday night."

As Philip and wife Avril chalk up the miles behind the wheel, the Wellington College Belfast student, who doesn't take her GCSEs until next year, is determined to make it worth their while.

"My aim is to get into the Ireland side so it's great being involved in the Super 3s and playing alongside and against the best players in the country. It is really helping my game and I couldn't ask to be in a better team," said Cara.

"Kim Garth (Ireland's vice-captain) is our skipper and Isobel Joyce, who has just stepped down as Ireland captain after many years, is also in the side. Hannah Grieve, from Lurgan, is also in our squad but she missed the match at Downpatrick as she was playing a hockey inter-provincial that day."

The other three Ulster players in the Super 3s are Natasha Morton, Tara Lapsley, who is currently at university, and Naomi Matthews, who plays alongside Cara at Waringstown. And with six teams in the Women's Premier League and another three in a new Division One this year, the NCU have a target of having a team playing in the Super 3s by 2018.

A first inter-provincial against North West was played this month and although it resulted in a nine wickets defeat for the NCU, against a much more experienced opposition side - former Ireland international Julie Logue scored 44 of the winning 59 runs - a return has been provisionally arranged for June 19 at Glendermott.

This year's Super 3s, after three games on successive Sundays, is currently on a six-week interlude before the reverse fixtures begin on June 26 when Cara returns to action with the Scorchers against the Dragons. The tournament concludes at Bready, another first, on July 10.

But there is no rest for Cara who, when not playing for one of her six cricket teams, finds time to play hockey for Saintfield Ladies, who reached the Intermediate final, and every Monday and Wednesday throughout the summer she has her Ballynahinch Ladies football kit on.

Belfast Telegraph

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