Cricket often seen as a minority sport is the main game in one area of north county Dublin.

Fingal in north county Dublin, with a geographical location of 448 square kilometres is a mix of rural, urban and suburban communities. Situated north of Dublin city it is bordered by, Meath and Kildare, and to the east by the Irish Sea. Its many towns include Swords, Blanchardstown, Balbriggan, Skerries, Rush, Lusk, Baldoyle, Sutton, Howth, and Santry.

Unlike the rest of Ireland where cricket is on the periphery, the game has played an important role in the sporting and social life of the communities in Fingal since the nineteenth century. The rural village of Balrothery is one such example, where teams who have inspired local passions are honoured in the Merry Cricketer pub.

A tradition passed from father to son, the game was introduced to Fingal in the 1820s by the local big landowners. Historian Joe Clinton explains how when cricket matches were organised between the various estates, men working for the big houses would be called in to make up a team.

Local people, through cricket being played on the estates, developed an interest in cricket.

The game's popularity reached a peak in the 1860s and 1870s and cricket clubs were formed. The standard of the game here has improved in recent years, with three Fingal clubs playing Senior One cricket. Fingal has two international players competing with the Irish national team in Canada.

Balrothery's North County Cricket Club fields teams at all levels, and has long been successful in attracting new members. Club Captain John Andrews’ interest in the sport began at the age of seven,

Everyone just went to the cricket...and we went with them, and that’s how it started.

Club member Joe Murphy was also bitten by the bug at an early age,

We always played cricket in our spare time, before school, after school.

The good fortunes of the thriving North County Cricket Club look set to continue. Construction work has started on a national centre of excellence here, which will be the only one in the twenty-six counties, and has received funding from the National Lottery and Fingal County Council. The positive response from local national schools has also been very encouraging to date, says Club President David Murphy.

For now the future of cricket in Fingal rests in the hands of the young, and it is a bright, as John Andrews maintains,

It’s that type of game, kids just love playing with a bat and ball.

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 25 June 2001. The reporter is Anne Cassin.