Saturday evening saw a large crowd toast a promising season of cricket in the Northern Cricket Union, despite the challenges that long periods of inclement weather in the summer brought.
The event at the Hilton Hotel Belfast was hosted by the entertaining Ally McCalmont and paid tribute to the efforts of many clubs and club members throughout 2023. NCU President Brian Walsh welcomed guests, sponsors, and friends from across the cricketing community.
Waringstown’s Morgan Topping and Muckamore’s Amy Caulfield walked away with the main awards after being crowned Men’s and Women’s Premier League Cricketers of the Year. Morgan topped off an incredible season that saw him score over 1000 runs (824 in the NCU) including a match-winning 150 in the Gallagher Challenge Cup Final by winning the Cricketer of the Year ahead of his club captain Greg Thompson who had to settle for the Batter and All-Rounder of the Year awards. Instonians’ veteran Andrew White picked up the Bowler of the Year award after taking 42 wickets (36 in NCU) in what was an exceptional season for himself and his club. CIYMS’s Chris Doughtery scooped the Wicket-keeper of the Year award.
In the women’s game, Amy Caulfield (Muckamore CC) again led the way collecting not only the Cricketer of the Year award but also the Batter and All-rounder of the Year awards after 404 runs and 10 wickets. North Down CC’s Staci Maxwell picked up the Bowler of the Year award for her 16 wickets, whilst Ali Cowan (CSNI CC) picked up the Wicket-Kepper of the Year trophy.
Other Senior awards went to a mixture of the old and the new, with James Kennedy from Ballymena CC picking up the Senior League Section One Player of the Year and Stephen Johnston the Section Two award whilst 14-year-old Rebecca Lowe from Lisburn CC deservedly took the honors in Women’s Section One.
Three stalwarts of the local game were honoured for their immense contributions to cricket in the NCU by being inducted into the NCU Hall of Fame. Donna Armstrong was recognised for her pioneering role as the NCU’s first Women’s Irish International; ‘Mr. Muckamore CC’ John McCormick was honoured for a lifetime of achievement both on and off the pitch for his hometown club; and, former Ireland captain Kyle McCallan was honoured for a trophy-laden 34 years playing cricket at the highest level domestically and internationally.
Esteemed Irish internationals Paul Stirling and Amy Hunter were present and gave some insight into their respective roles in captaining Ireland international teams in 2023. Mark Adair, Matthew Humphreys, and Ross Adair provided their thoughts on the Northern Knight’s successful season in the 2023 Inter-Provincial competitions where they were crowned double winners.