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Civil Service Cricket Club - 156 Years Not Out
In the early 1860s The Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, decided that our public service predecessors needed some quality rest and recreation. He pushed a Bill through Parliament, granting Civil Servants a cricket ground in Phoenix Park, right beside the Dog Pond, where the Civil Service Cricket Club play to this day. The club played its first match on the front lawn of Aras an Uachtaran in April 1863.

During the 19th century the game was a more leisurely pursuit than it is now, players often appeared in their Sunday best and its technical fine points were developing, but cricket was basically the same game then, two batsman take the field to defend their wickets against a fielding side attempting to dismiss them and their colleagues by a number of means – catches, run outs and stumpings.

Back in its early days Civil Service Cricket Club had trouble fielding sides, or to be more precise, fielding sides punctually. In those days the Public Service worked on Saturday mornings, and as most matches were played on that day, starting at noon, Service were almost always late starters. This situation gradually improved as office managers in Dublin Castle and the Custom House developed a blind eye on match days.

The Club built a wooden pavilion with a well stocked bar in its basement, and the Club attracted visiting sides from all parts of Ireland. Charles Stewart Parnell himself brought a Wicklow side to Civil Service in the 1870s. Club membership was opened to Public Servants’ families and James Penny was the club’s first international, the son of a public servant. The club produced several Irish international cricketers like George Christian and Paddy Murphy.

Civil Service was at its peak just before the First War but things were changing, with the GAA establishing its dominance. After the Second War Civil Service reverted to its junior status and it has since prospered to varying degree. Now, the club’s membership includes Aussies, Indians, Pakistanis and South Africans, all of whom love the game and the great social life the Club has to offer. The public service link lives on – Club President Fintan Butler, is based in the OPW and his son Owen, who started his career in Civil Service, later went on to play for Ireland. Aidan Kinsella, captain of the club’s second team, is also based in the OPW.

Given the Partnership buzzword currently in use, it’s appropriate that the cricket club banded together with the hockey and harriers section using the club facilities, and, with the aid of Lotto funds a fine extension, complete with ladies’ dressing rooms, were added to the club pavilion.

156 years on, Civil Service cricket club is now an organised sporting outfit regularly fielding good sides in Leinster league and cup competitions. Civil Service’ play hard but play for fun. Check us out at civilservicecc.com or drop up to the Park and cheer us on.

(Article written by Anthony Morrissey)
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