Front Row Seat – Kerry Cricket

Front Row Seat

A look at some of the biggest and most unusual moments in Irish sport covered by Sportsfile

Kerry and Cork.

Well it’s a bit of a bitter rivalry really.

The history, the geography. Trying to get one up on the near neighbour.

Our own Seb Daly, not of this parish, – instead a proud Londoner, was curious about this local rivalry.

So we sent him down, camera in hand, to Tralee on a Sunday one June in 2018 to suss out matters.

But there was no Paul Geaney. No Graham Canty. No Gooch or Teddy.

No green and yellow or red and white – instead they were all in all white.

This was a different type of Kerry-Cork rivalry. County Kerry hosting Cork Harlequins in their All Rounder Munster Premier Division clash.

See, Seb went to the cricket. But Seb loves his cricket. Seb knows his cricket.

Mick Jones, from Killorglin, tends to the scoreboard.

“I’d absolutely be a big cricket fan. I’ve played and followed cricket from a very young age. Love the sport.”

“When I was about maybe five or six my parents bought me a little plastic cricket set. I quite quickly outgrew the garden at home, with the ball spending more time in the neighbour’s backyard than our own.”

“So my Mum would take me down to the local park where I would have a lot more room to hit imaginary boundaries.”

“That didn’t last long either though, as I soon managed to hit the ball onto the roof of the leisure centre, and that was that! Time to take me to the local club, in deepest Kent.”

“First cricket match I ever photographed was just a local team, Chiddingstone I think.”

“Proper village setting, small clubhouse, everyone sat out in the sun, pitch on a big slope, uneven boundaries on all sides – and a wide variety of waistlines throughout the two teams.”

“Was a lovely Sunday afternoon, and they played well into the evening until almost dark. That’s proper cricket for me.”

“Since moving to Dublin I’m always keeping an eye on Ireland’s matches.”

“I think I would go as far as to say I watch for their result closer than I do England because I’ve worked closely with the Ireland team at times since moving over. Feel much more of a connection.”

“I heard of this fantastic venue down in Kerry, the Oyster Oval. I actually heard about the ground first after seeing something retweeted onto my Twitter timeline. Within an hour of Google image and streetview searching I had decided I have to go and cover a match there, the setting was like no other I had seen!”

“Annoyingly, it took me a year to get down there. I had to wait for both a Sunday I was available and for County Kerry to be playing a home game.”

“Once that actually came around it ended up being a very last minute decision but there was no hesitation about my four hour drive down to Kerry!”

“The ground sits on the edge of the estuary just outside Tralee so there’s plenty of water in the background, which isn’t something you see everyday at sporting venues.”

“Looking south your view is just the Slieve Mish Mountains and if you look slightly more east you’ll see the Blennerville Windmill in the distance too.”

“If someone had said to me you can photograph here or at a major international ground, I think honestly I’d choose the Oyster Oval.”

“The setting just blows you away, and this is the cricket I grew up on, local men playing for their local team.”

“Yes, big internationals back home look a great place to be, and might get some national paper coverage, but where else can you wonder into the club house and trip over a player taking a nap on the floor during lunch!”

Usman Khan of County Kerry rests in the club house

After his trip to Kerry the photo at the top of this post not only made the Sportsfile Images of the Year 2018 but also featured in Wisden Cricketers‘ Almanack in 2019, a sort of ‘Bible of Cricket’, alongside some of the best images from the cricketing year.

And he had another in the Almanack, an image of an Ireland cap from Ireland’s first ever Test match against Pakistan in Malahide.

You can follow Seb on twitter at @SebaJFDaly and on Instagram also at @sebajfdaly