CricketEurope, 6 May 2020
The competition's most successful side Waringstown overcame holders North to claim the first of their six titles back in 1983.
While there is no doubting the Mid-Ulster side's current love affair with the country's blue riband event, it wasn't always so as former international Garfield Harrison observed.
"We didn't enter the All Ireland Cup competition in its first year. The club had dominated the NCU League and Cups in the 1970's with a very strong team, so when this new competition was announced there was a cautious approach adopted and the decision was not to enter it in 1982.
"It was felt that there would be too much cricket and how were we going to fit it all in. Bear in mind in those days our club did not play cricket on a Sunday and the big cup competition at the time for us was the NCU Challenge Cup which was our main focus as well as the League.
"When we saw what a great idea it was and how it was going to be fitted into the cricket calendar, all our players wanted to play in it, so we entered in 1983 for the first time with huge expectations on our shoulders."
Waringstown were just starting to build another great side, as some of the stars of the 70s were being gradually replaced by a new generation, hungry for more success as Alan Waite remembered.
"The 1983 season represented a pivotal period in the transition from the great side of the 1970's to the side that would carry the club through the 1980's and early 90's.
"Some of the 70's side had already dropped out allowing the wonderful talents of Garfield Harrison, the McCrums (Paul/Charlie), and the Dennisons (Robbie/Davy) to flourish, as they did for most of that season, particularly in NCU senior challenge cup final against Lurgan when over 1,000 runs were scored.
"For myself and Alvin Spence we were still at school and trying establish a regular place in the team."
These new faces were sprinkled alongside 'Top Guns' Ivan Anderson, Michael Reith, Deryck Harrison and Roy Harrison all full and established Irish internationals at the top of their game, making for a formidable all-round side.
Their tournament debut saw a trip to Rathmines, where Leinster were bowled out for 125 with Michael Reith having the amazing figures of 10-5-7-4, and Garfield Harrison (bowling seam at the time) followed up 4-20, with an unbeaten 45 in a five wickets win.
The second round saw them on their travels to Dublin again to play a strong Phoenix in the Park, with internationals Alf Masood, Mike Halliday and David Pigott in their ranks. Half centuries from Masood and Piggott put Phoenix in a strong position, but a serendipitous error by skipper Ivan Anderson was to be a game changer as Alan Waite remembered.
"Ivan realised he had got his overs wrong and was one over short. He threw the ball to Davy Dennison who preceded to take a hat-trick, something he reminds us about - regularly!"
Not to be outdone, Robbie Dennison, Davy's brother, stroked a majestic unbeaten century and with Garfield Harrison again in the runs, backing him up with 44 to seal a five wickets victory with more than five overs to spare. The talent of Dennison was not just on the cricket field as Garfield outlined.
"Robbie Dennison would have surely played for Ireland but for his quality as a footballer, later signing full time professional terms with West Bromwich Albion and then Wolves in the then English First Division."
Dennison would play 293 times for Wolves scoring 40 goals, while also making 18 appearances for Northern Ireland.
The quarter-final draw saw them on their travels again as they faced The Hills, in a midweek game which saw the visitors badly depleted, but their depth shone through, with Roy and Garfield Harrison (again) amongst the runs.
"It was in the middle of the A-level exams, which meant Alvin, Charlie and myself were unable to play," said Alan Waite.
"Ivan Anderson was on holiday and Robbie Dennison had a soccer match for Glenavon, so we were well below strength. The Hills batted very well and made 197 with Paul McCrum taking 4 for 29, and Davy Dennison 1-26 in his ten-over spell.
"Already well into his forties Roy Harrison had to open on a very bouncy wicket. As he had done for years he hooked and cut his way to 75 not out and the man-of-the-match award as we got home by 8 wickets, with Garfield hitting an undefeated 62.
Finally in the semi-final Waringstown were first out of the hat, facing what looked like a tough challenge against NW kingpins Donemana, who were about to embark on a decade of domination in their home union.
What looked like being a tough tie to call, turned into a rout, as Donemana wilted under pressure.
"Waringstown and Donemana have always had a great rapport and respect between our two clubs over the years and this fixture was greatly anticipated," said Garfield.
"At this stage of the season we had lost Davy and Robbie Dennison to the football at Glenavon, as they were both semi professionals at Mourneview Park and the pay packet there was much better than that at The Lawn, so we would be up against it!
"But we had a deep squad with youngsters Alan Waite and Alvin Spence stepping into the breach. Donemana really struggled to get going, losing regular wickets to tight bowling, could only manage 123, - Michael Reith (4-23) and Charlie McCrum with three wickets doing the damage.
"We knocked of the runs for the loss of only two wickets in the 25th over, with Ivan Anderson 54* and Deryck Harrison 35* to register a comfortable win."
The mighty Donemana had had an unusually bad day all round, but the Waringstown juggernaut rolled on into the final against holders NICC (North) at Ormeau on 3rd September.
It was to be the biggest day in their fledgling careers for Alan Waite and Alvin Spence, with the teenagers included.
"Neither Alvin Spence or myself had played in the 1983 NCU Challenge Cup final, but with both Dennisons not available because of soccer commitments we were both selected for the All Ireland and our first senior final.
"The weather on the day of the final was awful, damp and cold. We won the toss and batted first on a tricky surface and immediately began to regret it, finding ourselves 31 for 4, with David (Vanburn) Heaney and the formidable Simon Corlett taking control of the game.
"Michael Reith came out to join Deryck Harrison, one more wicket and we would probably have been rolled for 70."
However, cometh the hour cometh the men, and the experienced of Michael Reith and Deryck Harrison (below)proved crucial as Waite recalled.
"What followed was I would regard as one of the greatest partnerships between two Waringstown batsmen. Given the conditions, the state of the game and the quality of the bowling, Michael and Deryck used all their vast experience and skill to fashion a partnership of 133."
Garfield agreed on the quality of the partnership, admiring the way the pair assessed the situation.
"I remember thinking that these two knew exactly how to play it and just batted while running quickly between the wickets, making ones into 2s and twos into threes and taking the game away from North," said Harrison.
"They were both a step up in ability and talent on all other batsmen on show that day, just pure quality. We finished off with 190 for 8 and knew that if we bowled and fielded well that this would be a formidable total on that pitch."
And so it turned out, North never really got going with Garfield and Paul McCrum bowling well, followed by Ivan Anderson, who turned the screw with an impressive 4 for 21. North could only muster 118, with Simon Corlett (30) top scoring.
The win still gives Garfield great satisfaction 38 year on.
"Eight players from our team in that final ended up playing for the full Irish Senior side either then or in the future. Not a bad record for a small village Cricket Club.
"We had became All Ireland champions in our first year of entering the competition and the love affair with the tournament began in earnest.
"We knew then that this was going to be the major club cup competition in Ireland for many years to come and its fair to say that this has turned out to be the case and its the one we all cherish the most."
|Toss won by||Waringstown|
|Player of Match||DW Harrison|
|C McCrum||c P Billingsley||b D Heaney||2||0||0||0|
|R Harrison||c PB Jackson||b D Heaney||0||0||0||0|
|DW Harrison||c PB Jackson||b D Heaney||60||0||0||0|
|IJ Anderson*||b R Parkhill||6||0||0||0|
|GD Harrison||lbw||b SC Corlett||8||0||0||0|
|MS Reith||b SC Corlett||71||0||0||0|
|A Spence||c W Kirk||b SC Corlett||3||0||0||0|
|A Waite||run out||0||0||0||0|
|B Harrison||not out||10||0||0||0|
|I Harrison||not out||10||0||0||0|
|extras||(b0 lb20 w0 nb0)||20|
|TOTAL||8 wickets for||190|
|1-2 2-4 3-11 4-31 5-164 6-166 7-167 8-171|
|J Hool||c IJ Anderson||b GD Harrison||15||0||0||0|
|P Billingsley||run out||16||0||0||0|
|M Crooks||c A Spence||b IJ Anderson||19||0||0||0|
|D Johnston||b C McCrum||3||0||0||0|
|SC Corlett||lbw||b IJ Anderson||30||0||0||0|
|W Kirk||b IJ Anderson||3||0||0||0|
|R Parkhill*||run out||9||0||0||0|
|PB Jackson+||c A Spence||b IJ Anderson||10||0||0||0|
|M McNeill||run out||0||0||0||0|
|D Heaney||b MS Reith||0||0||0||0|
|A McCully||not out||0||0||0||0|
|extras||(b0 lb13 w0 nb0)||13|
|TOTAL||10 wickets for||118|
|1-32 2-32 3-40 4-90 5-90 6-97 7-113 8-117 9-119 10-0|