Johnston relishing Leinster coaching role

All-rounder believes return of interpro competition will benefit Ireland in the future

Ireland all-rounder Trent Johnston may be about to turn 39, but listening to him enthuse about the start of the new cricket season he gives off the energy of a teenager.

The YMCA player was recently named as coach of the Leinster Lightning side for the keenly awaited return of the interprovincial competition this summer and he’s already relishing playing his part in the future make-up of the international team.

Not that he is aiming to bow out just yet, with his most recent performance seeing him claim four wickets as Ireland beat the UAE in Sharjah to put one foot on the plane to the 2015 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

And although he admits watching cricket is hard work at times, he does enjoy following some of the young talent coming through in Leinster at the moment.


“That is what this interprovincial competition is set up for, to give those younger guys a pathway through to the international set-up,” said Johnston, who is also named as a player on the Lightning panel. “For me to be a part of that and knowing that Irish cricket is going to be good for the next 15-20 years is something that really excites me.”

Johnston also believes the new competition, that will see Leinster take on the Northern Knights and North West Warriors in three-day, 50 overs and T20 formats, will benefit current internationals in the build-up to key games in the summer.

“Over recent times we’ve been away on tours and come back and we haven’t had cricket straight away, so we’ve slipped back into the club scene. And then all of a sudden you’re playing against Australia.

“The way they have it structured now, it gets us playing the best versus the best from the unions in the build-up to games that are coming up as well.”

With a squad top-heavy with Ireland-contracted players, Leinster have been installed as favourites to dominate the interprovincial series, but Johnston has already told his squad that success will be hard won, especially on the road.

“If you look at the depth in batting in the Northern team or the depth in the bowling from the guys in the North West, certainly in my opinion it’s anything but an automatic three trophies to Leinster.”

“Whenever Leinster teams go up north in the Irish Senior Cup it’s a hell of a battle and you know you’ve been in a game of 100 overs when you walk away from the North West or Belfast with a victory.”

Leinster Lightning’s opening game in the competition is a 50-over clash against Northern Knights at Milverton on May 6th, with the RSA Leinster League getting underway on Saturday.

Johnston's YMCA side finished a distant second to Division One champions Leinster last summer, but the addition of former Ireland opening batsman Jeremy Bray to their line-up has been one of the key off-season signings.

Leinster have their work cut out to hold on to their title, having lost their top three wicket-takers from last season, with West Indian pro Joel Leacock , Tim Law and Anton Scholtz all having left the country.

Merrion finished last season in third place, but the addition of South African professional Brett Thompson and the return of Irish qualified pace bowler Ronan McDonald from Australia will bolster Dom Joyce’s side, who host last year’s champions in the standout clash of the opening weekend.

Weekend fixtures – Saturday - RSA Leinster League (12.30) – Division One: Merrion v Leinster, Anglesea Road; Pembroke v North County, Sydney Parade; Phoenix v YMCA, Phoenix Park; The Hills v Railway Union, Milverton. Division Two: Clontarf v Balbriggan, Castle Avenue; Dublin University v Malahide, College Park; Leinster 2nds v Merrion 2nds, Rathmines; Rush v Terenure, Kenure Park.

Emmet Riordan

Emmet Riordan

Emmet Riordan is an Irish Times sports journalist