A FOMER Larne Cricket Club player has received the highest honour in Irish cricket.
Robin Walsh, who played for the club over 50 years ago, has been elected president of Cricket Ireland.
Walsh, 73, and was an all-rounder for the Sandy Bay club when he was a reporter back in the late 1950s and early ‘60s with the Larne Times.
He said: “Irish cricket has been one of the great success stories of recent years and I am deeply honoured to be elected as its president. I have such pleasant memories of my cricketing days with Larne and the club can take more than a little credit for nurturing my deep love of the game.”
Walsh played under the captaincy of the late Aubrey Girvan, who was Mayor of Larne at the time.
He recalls: “It was Aubrey on a Saturday - but Mr. Mayor when I was reporting his civic duties!”
The definitive ‘A History of Cricket in Ulster’ ranks “the Girvan Years” as among the finest in the club’s history.
Added Walsh: “The side contained quite a few fine players, yet the person I remember with the greatest fondness never played - and is still with the club after all these years. Bob McFetridge was our scorer, a position he held for decade after decade. He’s the sort of clubman that makes cricket the great game it is.”
Walsh also played in the old Larne and District League, a midweek 20-overs a-side competition.
“It was actually quite frightening,” he said. “The games were played at night on ill-fitting coconut matting over the rugby pitch. If you batted second there were times when you barely saw the ball flying at you.”
Walsh’s wife Dorothy is a Larne woman and his journalism took him into broadcasting where he became head of news at Ulster Television and BBC Northern Ireland, Editor of the Nine O’Clock News in London, and finally Controller of BBC NI.
In recent years he has been cricket correspondent for the Sunday Life, and chairman of the Cricket Writers’ of Ireland - positions he has now relinquished.
“I really couldn’t be seen to be criticising Irish performances - not that that is likely,” he said.