Fitting stage set for Irish cricket’s biggest test
Malahide will host an attendance of 10,000 as Ireland host England in eagerly-awaited clash
Malahide Cricket Club is all set to host the one day international between Ireland and England next Tuesday. Photo: Brenda Fitzsimons
Ian Talbot remembers the phone call which was to start the process leading to the staging of next Tuesday’s RSA Challenge One-Day International between Ireland and England at the new international ground in Malahide.
It came from Talbot’s fellow Malahide Cricket Club member John Wright, the late secretary of the Irish Cricket Union, and one of the prime movers in getting the new ground built at the club he always referred to as ‘The Village’.
“I’ve been involved from the start,” says Talbot, whose day job is as chief executive of Chambers Ireland. “John Wright rang me one day and said ‘we’ve a job to do Ian’ and I said ‘what’s that?’. So he explained, but unfortunately six months later poor old John didn’t make it.”
The death of Wright at the age of 65 was a huge loss for Irish cricket and Malahide, but his vision has been carried through by Talbot and his fellow club members, along with Cricket Ireland and Fingal County Council.
It will come to fruition next Tuesday morning in what is arguably the most remarkable piece of sporting infrastructure ever constructed in this country – a pop-up cricket stadium comprising 10,000 temporary seats, a corporate hospitality pavilion hosting 650 guests, a clubhouse for players, officials, sponsors and guests, a 100-seater press box and separate Sky Sports studios, two giant screens and a food and drink village.
It’s been a logistical feat on some scale, built up from the ground in the space of three and-a-half weeks and leaving little change out of €250,000.
And it will be beamed live around the world to over a billion people with ESPN stepping in to secure the global rights to the telecast, with the high camera positions showing off the beauty of the site within the grounds of Malahide Castle.
The local economy has rowed in behind the project also, while passengers coming from the north will be able to step off the Enterprise service at nearby Malahide station instead of having to travel in to the city centre.
The game always represented a huge financial risk for Cricket Ireland with the costs of building a stadium for just one game, but it is expected to be a 10,000 sell-out, far and away the biggest attendance at a match in this country.
For Cricket Ireland chief executive Warren Deutrom, it was never about how much money could be made from game, but what staging an event of this calibre says about the growth of the game here both on and off the field.