Belfast Telegraph

Dundrum's progress the ideal gift for devoted Jeff


By Ian Callender

As 60th birthday parties go, Jeff Maguire's will take some beating. The Dundrum chairman of selectors decided to have a cricket match between club members to raise money to buy new covers for the scenic ground in Co Down.

His target was £1,000 but after a glorious summer day and a match which, fittingly, ended in a tie and was decided by a super over, more than £1,600 had been raised.

One man even more delighted than Jeff was groundsman Tommy Curlett, who, 55 years after he started looking after The Meadow, is still the proud guardian of the 22-yard pitch at the age of 79.

"We had to call off last Saturday's game because of one night's rain which got under the plastic covers. We took a photograph to send to Saintfield to save them from travelling but he wouldn't let me take the photograph until he had painted the lines," said Jeff.

"Tommy goes all the way back to the days when we used to cut the ground with an old mower and rake the grass up in piles. With no professional this year, we are going to use the money to buy covers which will cost £5,000.

"The covers we have are far too heavy, it took six people to carry them on and off. But the new covers will have sheets on the side and hopefully the rain can't get under them this time."

Dundrum are a good news story in the Northern Cricket Union. While other clubs are struggling to get teams out and even having to amalgamate, Dundrum are determined to go it alone - they have twice turned down an approach from Downpatrick to join forces - and Maguire is happy that the club, although currently bottom of Section Two, are in a good place.

"At the start of the year I said we were certs for relegation but if we get the team we had selected for last Saturday out every week we would compete with any team in Section One, never mind Section Two," insisted Jeff.

"A lot of our players have been at university but are now available and we also have a couple of Army lads who are a big help."

And it's not just the First XI who are thriving.

"Back in March, there were some who said we should scrap the Seconds, but everyone has pulled together and the Seconds are going well - mid-table in Junior League 6. We also have Under-11, U13, U15 and U17 sides playing in the leagues and cups. Indeed, our Under-17s are going on a tour of England. How many clubs send their Under-17s away? I don't know any, which I find surprising.

"So Dundrum Cricket Club has never been in a better position. We own our own ground and all is going well, although not having an overseas coach is hindering us because we are not getting into the schools for as long. Last year we had an eight-week course, this year it's down to five. We go into 10 schools because we are trying to build up cricket in the area."

And Maguire is adamant that if professionals do not coach, they shouldn't be here - and he has already put that into practice.

"I got rid of our best ever professional because he refused to coach in the schools. I told him I'm trying to build a club here, I don't just want a match-winner," he said.

It's a policy which has stood the club in good stead. They are renowned as being among the most hospitable with clubs such as CIYMS, Derriaghy and Donaghadee all staying over and making a weekend of it when they play at Dundrum.

"Three years ago we were in Section One and that's as high as we have ever got. We would never cope with the Premier League but it's not about the standard we are at, it's about keeping the club going," he added. "The covers were the last thing we needed and now that will keep Tommy and his brother Jack, who's 78 and helps out, happy!"

Belfast Telegraph

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