It promises to be an eventful few days for Theo Lawson who gets married this weekend to fiancée Caroline Scully.

The 35-year old has opted to call time on his playing career, after an almost 20-year cricketing journey with Clontarf and predominantly Pembroke.

“I’ve a young son and with the upcoming wedding, I have family commitments now, and after training and working hard for two decades, it’s time to dedicate more to them now,” said Lawson.

“To be competitive in the Premier League you have to train so hard and I won’t be able to do that. We have a lot of talented young players at Pembroke now so I don’t want to stand in their way.”

There’s no temptation for the former Pembroke captain to step down and play at a lower level, insisting the boots are being hung up for good.

“I’m stepping away completely from the playing side. I’ve always been an all or nothing guy, very competitive, 100% or nothing. I will still go down the club and give throwdowns if anybody needs one. But I’m looking forward to a summer holiday with the family. I’ve sacrificed those over the past 20-25 years.”

His first cricketing memory was playing with his uncle who was at Mullingar, and his granny in a field full of cows in Longford.

The youngster soon showed an aptitude for the sport and living in Castleknock first thought of joining Phoenix, but the absence of youth cricket there at that time back in 1998/99, meant a move to Clontarf, who became a powerhouse in Leinster youth cricket.

“We were very successful then, winning everything that there was in Leinster as well as a few all-Ireland titles. That got me noticed and I played for Ireland youth teams, including the 13’s, 17’s and with the 19’s at the 2008 Under 19 World Cup in Malaysia.”

In 2007 he switched to Pembroke, where he has remained since at Sydney Parade.

“The Clontarf squad was quite strong and settled, so I moved looking for more first team opportunities ahead of that World Cup, and it worked out. 

“I had also become very friendly with Andy Balbirnie and Graham McDonnell through the international youth set-up so it made it easier to settle there.

“We were a bit of a yo-yo team in terms of promotion and relegation but there were some good memories in there. We were beaten in a few finals and probably should have won more than we did. I suppose that can be put down to the fact that we were a pretty young side for the most part and the lack of experience cost us in pressure situations.

“We lost a DGM final to a very powerful North County side in 2008, when Graham and myself put on a century stand. A few key decisions didn’t go our way and Andre Botha led them to victory. That was very much a ‘young guns versus all-stars battle’. 

“We beat Rush and Merrion on the way to an Alan Murray T20 final win in 2008. The fact that it was held at Sydney Parade made it all the more memorable and we celebrated that one long into the night.

“I was captain in 2012 when we got promoted and stayed there for ten seasons, reaching the Leinster Senior Cup the same year, losing to Clontarf, and YM beat us in rain affected replay the following year.

“The Irish Senior Cup saw us have our fair share of heartbreak over the years and there were semi-final losses to Donemana, Clontarf, and Waringstown.

“However the best day and indeed few weeks of the club came in 2019 when on an historic day at The Hills they beat Waringstown to clinch the Bob Kerr trophy for the first and to date only time.

“That was a very special day for us all at the club. We had a very good professional in Shaheen Khan, and our quartet of internationals – Josh Little, Andy Balbirnie, Lorcan Tucker and Barry McCarthy – were back for the final month of the season.

“I was delighted with my own form in the competition, scoring four half centuries in the cup run, including 63 against Waringstown adding 148 for the fifth wicket with Shaheen Khan who got a hundred as we went on to win convincingly.”

“A few weeks later we won the Premier League final in one of the most dramatic games ever. Ryan Hopkins and Josh Little put on 26 for the last wicket at Merrion to clinch the title. ‘Hoppo’ was just exceptional that day, hitting a boundary any time we needed one, and keeping the good balls out. That was probably the best team win I’ve been involved with. We haven’t really been able to get that side out again in recent times.”

Those victories though were tinged with sadness due to the fact that Theo’s father Robert had died earlier that year.

“Paul and myself couldn’t have achieved everything we did without their support. They never missed a game, and my mum Ada has scored for the firsts for the last six years. It’s such a shame that he wasn’t there for the glory years.”

The last few years have seen further ups and downs for Pembroke with some memorable matches along the way.

“Another game that really stands out in the memory for me was a tied Irish Cup tie last year against YMCA. A really high standard with Lorcan and Barry playing for us, and YM with Harry Tector and Curtis Campher. Many people have said that was one of the best matches they’ve seen with such a high standard.

“We won it on fewer wickets lost. We just blocked out the last few balls. I’m not sure they knew what we were doing until after. We were 24 for 5 chasing 160 – Reuben Wilson doing the early damage. Barry and myself put on 99 and we got into the next round, just!”

His form in 2021 saw him pick up the Marchant Cup when he averaged almost 75 – the first non-professional winner at Pembroke since 1976. He rates the 83 he made against Merrion to get them into the Premier League final that year was his best innings ever – the next highest score was 12!

A successful 2022 winning the Senior Cup was tempered by the fact that they were relegated.

“I was captain again this year and we enjoyed a really strong season winning the Championship. Getting promoted made my decision to retire easier because I felt I wasn’t leaving the club in the lurch. We are back in the Premier League with a solid foundation in the youth set-up.

“JJ Garth had a good season, Gavin Hoey, and Macdara Cosgrave, with others coming through. I averaged 60 this year so I’m going out on a high on my own terms, rather than through a tap on the shoulder and being pushed out.”

For the past 13 seasons Theo and his brother Paul have been mainstays of the side and he feels lucky to have spent so much time in the ranks with his sibling.

“We have played over 200 games together and it’s been great having Paul alongside me. He has been a great teammate really. He’s been fantastically consistent in terms of his wicket-taking, and it was great for my parents to have been able to come down and watch us both together rather than go to different clubs. I think it’s something I will look back on over time and realise just how special and privileged it was.”

Over the last 20 years, he has been lucky enough to play with and against some of the greatest players in Ireland and he rates Pembroke’s current international quartet as exceptional. “We have probably taken the four guys a bit for granted but it’s been great to see Andy, Josh, Lorcan and Barry do so well. Watching them grow up and develop over the years has been great. Those guys have set the standard and been a benchmark for the production line of players coming through just how high the bar is. 

“We have been very lucky with our choice of professionals over the years, including Jonno Cook, a leg-spinning all-rounder that was in the Big Bash, Daniel Solway who played for New South Wales, Shaheen Khan, and even this year Nick Stapleton who was a breath of fresh air about Sydney Parade, and it will be exciting to see what he can do next year in the Premier League. Guys too like Ryan Hopkins, who on his day could rival some of the great names I’ve mentioned, but not as consistently.

“Opposition players I’ve admired would include John Anderson, who has continually set the bar in terms of consistency and longevity. As a batsman I never liked facing Max Sorensen or Joey Carroll. Going back to 2007, I would have played against players of the calibre of Trent Johnston and Jeremy Bray, and you almost forget they played in the Leinster league.”

In terms of regrets, Theo doesn’t have too many. He would have liked to have played more representative cricket, but in 2013 the standard in Leinster was just so high.

“There were only one or two non-internationals in the squad then. I think ten played in 2013, and the following week most of them were taking on England.

“My stats over the years would be comparable or better than most featuring now in the revised squads, but I didn’t do myself justice with the limited chances that di come along.”

A look at those stats show he played 300 times for Clontarf and Pembroke at senior level, hitting 50 half centuries and nine hundreds. He made over 8000 runs at just over 34 in a remarkably consistent series of displays at domestic level.

“I’ve enjoyed my career, but there is a feeling that as a club we probably should have won more given the talent at our disposal, especially those Irish Cup runs. 

“Still, a lot more happy memories than regrets. Cricket has been good to me.”