Graeme Hunter, a talented teenager, stole the limelight in 1988 as he scored a Man of the Match century to help Lurgan beat NCU rivals North Down to capture the trophy.

This was right in the middle of a successful period for the club, who had won the competition previously in 1984 and throughout the decade competed regularly for honours as Hunter recalled.

"Our team in '88 was strong with a fine professional in Subhash Kshirsagar, four players going on to play for Ireland (Paul and Charlie McCrum, Ross McCollum and Alan Johnston) and another three or four who played at inter-pro level.

Graeme Hunter with the Man of the Match trophy

"I have very fond memories of the All-Ireland competition that year and in particular the final. However, we had some tough matches in the earlier rounds which could have gone either way but we were for the most part a young team with a good team spirit and that pulled us through.

"In the first round we had a really tough match at home to North who were also a top side. Due to poor weather this game was reduced to 10 overs per side. North batted first and scored 75 for 6 which was a good total. With two overs remaining we still needed 20 to win and Simon Corlett was waiting to bowl the last over - he had only conceded 3 runs in his first over!

"I remember Ross McCollum hit the first ball of the 9th over, bowled by Davy Napier, for 6 and then we got three singles, That left us needing 11 from 8 balls and we didn't want to need many against Simon in the last over.. My brother Alan was on strike having just come to the wicket the over before. He hit each of the last two balls of the over for 6 and we had won with an over to spare! He tells me to this day that if it wasn't for him hitting those sixes I wouldn't have got the chance to score the runs in the final!

"In the 2nd round, we were away to Sion Mills who posted 206 for 5 with John Browne and Bobby Rao both scoring half-centuries. When rain arrived to finish the match in the 40th over we were well on the way to victory on 186 for 3 with Subhash winning the man of the match award scoring 91 not out supported by myself with 48 and Ross McCollum with 38. This game was won on faster scoring rate.

Paul McCrum with the trophy

"In the quarter final we played Bangor at Pollock Park. Leading up to this game we had been on a poor run of form. We were well beaten by Waringstown in the NCU Cup semi-final and had lost three league games in a row. However, we came back to form in this game with the bowlers restricting Bangor to 157 and we won comfortably by 6 wickets with almost 9 overs to spare. Ross with 26 and myself with 79 were the main contributors. This was our only match in the competition were rain didn't fall!

"In the semi-final, we got a really tough draw away to Dublin YMCA, a team which included Irish internationals Alan Lewis, Jonny Garth and Mark Nulty. The weather was horrendous and we didn't think we were going to get any play. However, late in the afternoon the rain relented and the game was reduced to 15 overs per side.

"YM batted first and posted 94-5 which was a very challenging total given the conditions. This was made tougher when we lost Subhash and Charlie McCrum early on. However, this brought Ross McCollum to the wicket. Ross had spent most of the afternoon sleeping on the bus while it was raining but he certainly came alive with the bat smashing a brilliant 55 from just 34 balls and we won with four balls to spare. He deservedly won the man of the match award.

"And so to the final against NCU rivals North Down. I remember that the two clubs couldn't agree on a neutral venue to play the match in the NCU area - I'm not exactly sure why as I was only 19 at the time and not involved in any decision making like that. Therefore, the match was played at Rathmines in Dublin.

Close call for Graeme Hunter as Ivan Connolly removes the bails

"This suited us as some of our team had fond memories of winning the trophy there in 1984 when we beat Brigade and from a personal point of view I was delighted as I always enjoyed batting at Rathmines. Whilst the pitch always 'did a bit' for the bowlers early on, the ball came on to the bat, the bounce was true and you always got full value for your shots.

"We prepared well for this match, staying over near Dublin on the Friday night and getting to the ground early on the Saturday. We were buoyed by the wonderful support we had with hundreds travelling in cars and on buses from Lurgan, creating a fantastic atmosphere.

"I remember being very nervous as I watched Subhash and Charlie McCrum go out to open the batting but I was soon at the wicket when Charlie was caught behind by Ivan Connolly off the bowling of Angus Fergie. Subhash quickly got into his stride and went on to dominate our partnership, scoring 61.

"This gave me time to settle and by the time I was joined by Ross McCollum, after a rain break, I was well set. We put on a hundred in 11 overs with Ross scoring a typically quick-fire 38. Paul McCrum then joined me and we ran well between the wickets. He helped me run a quick two to third-man to bring up my century, a moment I will never forget.

"Being young, the emotion obviously got to me, as soon after I charged down the wicket to a Robin Haire delivery and got stumped! Our innings closed on 249-6 which was a massive total in those days. As a result, we went into the field in a confident mood especially given the quality of our bowling attack which included the great Alan Johnston, Paul and Charlie McCrum, Paul Lyness and Subhash.

"However, North Down had some quality players, none more so than the brilliant Raman Lamba, who could have taken the game away from us by himself. However, early on, Paul McCrum got him to glove a short delivery down the leg side and Richard Burton took a good catch and had a celebration to match. He was out for 1 and at that stage we were confident of victory.

Lurgan's Richard Burton
"Whilst John Gilliland and Robin Haire put on a partnership of 69, our bowlers were superb and kept the run rate down. Eventually the pressure told and North Down were eventually all out for 154 giving us victory by 95 runs. The wickets were evenly spread across all the bowlers who were immense.

"I was delighted to receive my Man of the Match award from the great Ireland all-rounder, Alec O'Riordan, someone who had played in the Irish team with my dad Raymond."

Graeme's father Raymond played 28 times for Ireland between 1957 and 67, and also played rugby for Ireland as well being in the Lions squad.

"Dad was obviously one of my greatest inspirations in the game as was our previous professional Rahul Mankad, who coached me from my early teens. I was delighted to emulate Rahul, who had scored a century in the 1984 victory over Brigade.

"I will never forget the celebrations that went on long into the night - the Rathmines bar certainly got a good turn. It seemed like the whole of Lurgan had descended on Dublin and our fantastic supporters had definitely helped to make it a wonderful occasion. As a team, we were delighted to deliver a trophy for them.

"The victory in this competition was a superb team effort with everyone in the squad contributing throughout the season. I consider myself very fortunate to have been part of such a great team and have many happy memories of our time playing together.


"I would like to dedicate this article in the memory of our team-mates Alan Johnston and Richard Burton, who sadly are no longer with us."

Lurgan Vs North Down
1-Innings Match Played At Rathmines, 03-Sep-1988, Irish Senior Cup
Lurgan Win by 95 runs

Round Final
Toss won by Lurgan
Umpires B Carpenter - E Harkness
Home Side (neutral)

Lurgan 1st Innings 249/6 Closed (Overs 50)

Batsman Fieldsman Bowler Runs Bls 4s 6s
S Kshirsager   b J Gilliland 61 0 0 0
C McCrum c I Connolly b A Fergie 6 0 0 0
G Hunter st I Connolly b Robin Haire 100 0 0 0
R McCollum c J Gilliland b R Lamba 38 0 0 0
P McCrum* not out   21 0 0 0
R Burton+ run out   0 0 0 0
A Hunter c I Connolly b J Gilliland 6 0 0 0
P Dickson not out   1 0 0 0
G McCollum dnb          
A Johnston dnb          
P Lyness dnb          
extras   (b0 lb14 w2 nb0) 16      
TOTAL   6 wickets for 249      
1-15(C McCrum) 2-110(S Kshirsager) 3-210 4-232 5-235 6-247
Bowler Overs Maid Runs Wkts wd nb
A Fergie 7 0 44 1 - -
R Lamba 10 1 53 1 - -
I Carser 10 1 30 0 - -
J Galway 7 2 21 0 - -
Robin Haire 9 0 56 1 - -
J Gilliland 7 1 31 2 - -

North Down 1st Innings 154/10 All Out (Overs 47.5)

Batsman Fieldsman Bowler Runs Bls 4s 6s
I Shields c P Lyness b A Johnston 22 0 0 0
R Lamba c R Burton b P McCrum 1 0 0 0
J Gilliland c P Dickson b S Kshirsager 47 0 0 0
Robin Haire* c P Dickson b P Lyness 31 0 0 0
M Quinn lbw b S Kshirsager 2 0 0 0
D Shields   b P Lyness 16 0 0 0
I Carser run out   12 0 0 0
G Benson c G McCollum b C McCrum 7 0 0 0
A Fergie c R Burton b C McCrum 5 0 0 0
I Connolly+ c R Burton b P McCrum 0 0 0 0
J Galway not out   0 0 0 0
extras   (b0 lb8 w3 nb0) 11      
TOTAL   10 wickets for 154      
1-13(R Lamba) 2-37(I Shields) 3-106 4-110 5-114 6-139 7-139 8-153 9-153 10-154
Bowler Overs Maid Runs Wkts wd nb
A Johnston 10 3 18 1 - -
P McCrum 7.5 0 23 2 - -
C McCrum 10 1 47 2 - -
S Kshirsager 10 2 28 2 - -
P Lyness 10 0 30 2 - -