Cricket bats above as popularity of sport soars among children in west Dublin

The sport is third most popular after GAA and basketball among Tyrellstown children

Children at Tyrrelstown Educate Together playing cricket. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

Children at Tyrrelstown Educate Together playing cricket. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

 

The popularity of cricket has soared in recent years, buoyed by the Irish team’s international success, and now the sport is branching into new territory that was once dominated by the likes of GAA and soccer.

In Tyrrelstown, Dublin 15 the next generation is getting some batting practice in the summer sun as part of a new cricket development programme, boosted by the area’s diverse community.

The local Asian community brought the sport to the area, according to Mitchell Thompson, cricket development coach for Tyrrelstown.

“This has also encouraged Irish people to start playing the sport,” he said.

The programme was run through Fingal County Council’s sports office in partnership with Cricket Leinster.

Gerry Spollen with cricket coach Mitchell Thompson at Tyrrelstown Educate Together. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times
Gerry Spollen with cricket coach Mitchell Thompson at Tyrrelstown Educate Together. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Mr Thompson visits local schools weekly for coaching sessions during term to develop the sport’s popularity among young people. “There’s a big mixture of nationalities in the school and they all play the sport together,” he said.

Gerry Spollen, sports co-ordinator at Tyrrelstown Educate Together NS, also feels the diversity within the local population has helped to fuel the sport’s popularity.

“Our school is quite diverse; we have different backgrounds, so people have an interest in different sports and have brought that with them to the area.

Cricket Coach Mitchell Thompson teaching cricket to children at Tyrrelstown Educate Together in Dublin. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times
Cricket Coach Mitchell Thompson teaching cricket to children at Tyrrelstown Educate Together in Dublin. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

“The kids love it, it’s great to see them being outside and enjoying themselves, especially in this age when there’s so much screen time.” Mr Spollen said.

Mr Thompson said “the improvement in some of the kids was massive” when they returned to play after lockdown.

“I am hopeful that some will join the local club in Tyrrelstown.”

Brían O’Rourke, Fingal’s cricket development manager at Cricket Leinster said it is now is the third most popular sport in the area behind basketball and GAA.

“A lead community coach for Tyrrelstown was a clear step we needed to take to meet the growing cricket culture in the area.

“Fingal County Council’s investment, alongside its passion for cricket is a shining example of how a council can help a sport grow in its community,” he said.