Former Ireland coach Graham Ford joins YMCA cricket club

Move ensures South African stays in country despite leaving role with senior side

Former Ireland men's head coach Graham Ford has taken up a role with YMCA cricket club as their new head coach. The move ensures the South African stays in Ireland despite leaving his role with the senior side last November.

Appointing Ford is a major boost for YMCA, a club that has been unable to play in its home ground at Claremont Road, Sandymount, after its landlord the Dublin YMCA charity put the land on sale last March at an asking price of €10 million.

The site has not been sold since then, despite the cricket club submitting four separate bids. The land was advertised as a residential development opportunity, but planning permission would need to be sought by any developer while there are also believed to be zoning issues.

Last May, Dublin City Council unanimously agreed to write to Minister for Sport Catherine Martin to ask her to intervene on behalf of the cricket club.

The Irish Times understands that discussions are ongoing between the club and the charity, but that any temporary rental agreement would require the club to sign a deed of renunciation. Unwilling to do so, YMCA CC seems set to spend another season playing its home fixtures at Wesley College instead of in Sandymount.

Regardless of where YMCA CC plays this season, Ford, who has also coached his native South Africa and Sri Lanka, has committed to work with the club's men's, women's and youth sections during the upcoming season. It is understood that he will consider a longer stint if a return to Claremont Road can be implemented.

YMCA presently has four contracted internationals in their ranks in Gaby Lewis, Simi Singh, Harry Tector and Curtis Campher. Despite the senior success, Ford labelled YMCA's youth section as a key motivation behind taking the role. "Early on in my time with Cricket Ireland, I was so impressed with YMCA's club system," he said.

"Not only the commitment of the players but the dedication and loyalty shown by the various club administrators, their youth structures under Kamal Merchant and other numerous high-profile coaches are the backbone of cricket and are of vital importance to cricket in Ireland.

“I am really looking forward to getting involved in this vibrant club system and I am delighted to join YMCA Cricket Club for the coming summer. They have a proud record of producing and developing quality cricketers – a process I look forward to being a part of.

“It is sad to see a quality club like YMCA currently without a home ground. Hopefully coupled with Cricket Ireland and the cricketing community every effort can be made to resolve this important issue.

“Having trained there internationally it is a fantastic ground. I do feel though that with the determination and hard work of the club president and the senior YMCA sub-committee and the great attitude of the players, the club will remain in good shape and will overcome these challenges.”

In other news, Cricket Ireland has accepted the 26 key recommendations made by the men's T20 World Cup review conducted by Adi Birrell and Portas Consulting. At a board meeting in Dundalk on Wednesday, the governing body acknowledged its need to "do better" in regard to a number of issues that are vital to its high performance system.

The board has now directed the high performance centre and management to develop funding and resourcing implications of the long-term structural recommendations, including the development of a permanent stadium in Abbotstown.

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