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Irish cricket in mourning after Alan Johnston's death

Former Lurgan and Ireland international Alan Johnston has died after a long illness. He was 63. One of the most popular and likeable figures on the circuit, Johnston would have won more than three international caps for Ireland but for his religious beliefs which prevented him playing on a Sunday.

All three appearances came in 1990, in a double-header against Worcestershire and that year's NatWest Trophy game against Sussex. Johnston was 37 by the time he played for Ireland, but in the end his performances over two decades at club level for Lurgan could not be ignored.

Having already represented Irish Schools in 1971, he turned down the opportunity of an Ulster Schools tour to play for Lurgan in the 1972 Challenge Cup final against Muckamore. The two-innings game, in which he took nine wickets, capped a remarkable competition when the fiery opening bowler took 29 wickets in just four games.

His pace had slowed by the time of Lurgan's next Cup triumph in 1989, but they also won the Irish Cup three times, the last in 1990.

Current Cricket Ireland chairman Ross McCollum was a long-time team-mate at Pollock Park and said: "Alan was an exceptional cricketer who was unlucky not to have represented his country more. He was a superb bowler who had remarkable control and skill.

"He was a friend and colleague and he will be sadly missed by all in Irish cricket. I'd like to pass on my sincere condolences to all his family."

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