The history of the ground in Marlay Park is interesting. Given the norm in country houses and estates in Leinster, it is quite possible that cricket was played somewhere in Marlay Park in the eighteenth, nineteenth and early 20th centuries. However, the Leinster Cricket Union involvement only dates from the 1970's.

Marlay Park

Cricket in Marlay Park on a summers evening

In the middle of that decade, the estate came under the aegis of the then Dublin County Council. Frank Malin, who was the Pembroke CC delegate to the Leinster Cricket Union Executive (subsequently LCU President and both President and the first ever Chairman of the Irish Cricket Union), proposed that the LCU approach the Council with a view to having a cricket square laid in the park. He was conscious of the fact that other sporting bodies in this country had use of local authority facilities and the provision of cricket facilities in public parks is common in other cricket playing countries. The Council agreed. We don't know what, if any, input the LCU had into the selection of the actual site but they chose one of the wettest and poorly drained parts of land in Marlay. It seems likely that it was dictated by access considerations (road and car park) rather than the suitability of the soil. However the Council obtained appropriate advice and a square was laid.

The LCU was then faced with the issue of using it. Since interprovincial matches were only played at senior level, it was not a runner to use it for them. For a few years after its installation therefore it was unused and the Council expressed concern that the facility they had provided was idle. The LCU asked clubs if they wished to use it. At the time the CYM club was undergoing a growth period. They had grown from three to four sides competing in Leinster competitions, had a substantial and expanding youth section and a ladies team. Their grounds in Terenure were creaking at the strain. They offered to develop the Marlay facility for use by their teams for junior/youth and women's' matches. The LCU readily agreed. CYM undertook to work with the Council on upkeep of the ground and to install facilities for changing/teas. A Portacabin was put in place, which functioned as a changing room, tearoom and storage facility and some rudimentary sightscreens were also erected.

Some members of CYM saw that much of their increase in membership resulted from the new housing estates being built in the general area of Rathfarnham, Dundrum and Ballinteer. They felt that it was not beyond the bounds of possibility that in time, a new Marlay Cricket Club might develop. In a way that is what happened with the formation and growth of Sandyford CC, although not in the way those persons may have thought.

For a few seasons, CYM used Marlay quite extensively but that usage fell off. Their growth in numbers did not continue and as with other clubs who have done it, there was some resistance by members against playing "home" matches that were not really at home. The installation of the artificial wicket in Terenure accentuated the difference in the facilities at both venues and was possibly a factor in increasing such resistance. At this point, the possibility of a Sandyford CC began to emerge.

 The courtyard and craft shops in Marlay Park

 The courtyard and craft shops in Marlay Park

As mentioned previously, Sandyford CC organised some friendly matches in 1984 but were occasionally warned off by the park rangers and by Phil Furlong of CYM. Once, when Phil confronted Tiernan about the illegal use of the pitch, Tiernan retorted that he believed that "some bandits" were using the square but that he didn't know anything about them. That aside, the initial relations between the fledgling Sandyford and CYM were very cordial.

Tiernan had met with Phil Furlong on a number of occasions both at Marlay Park and at CYM's clubhouse in Terenure. Phil was very friendly and encouraging. As the talks progressed it appeared that Phil and some other senior people at his club wanted to induct or incorporate Sandyford into CYM. This notion was, for a short while, given serious consideration by both parties. The advantages were obvious. For CYM

1. An increased membership
2. The copper-fastening of their hold on the Marlay Park facility
3. A willingness on the part of this proposed fresh membership to use the facilities at Marlay Park
4. The removal of a serious threat to their designs on the Marlay Park facility.

For the Sandyford players:

1. A ready access to cricket and related ancillary facilities
2. The avoidance of a lot of arduous physical and organisational work

An occasion to cement the relationship arose when a match took place between the two sides at Terenure. It was a sour bad tempered affair, which CYM won, and it clearly illustrated that the idea of a merger, however attractive it may have been to the "patricians" at CYM, was a "no go" at the rank and file level of CYM. It also helped to strengthen the identity of the Sandyford players and their determination to establish their own club.

The merger idea was never pursued after this match and it was probably around this time that both groups were set on a collision course over the Marlay Park issue. CYM would continue in their efforts to secure Marlay without the "Sandyford connection" and the Sandyford Club would remain independent and promote its own interests as it saw fit.

At first Sandyford CC was unaware that it was not CYM which held the rights to the ground from the Council but the LCU. When that became apparent Tiernan contacted the then LCU secretary John Dawson to complain at not being allowed to use what was a public park. This led to a meeting on the fringe of an LCU Executive attended by John Dawson, Michael Sharp, a CYM representative and Tiernan and Brendan MacConville. The development of the cricket ground and the CYM commitment was explained to Tiernan and Brendan and understood and accepted by them. They were encouraged that if they wished to become a formal club and enter LCU competitions, it was quite possible that they could make some arrangement with CYM to share use of the ground and if so, the LCU would be happy to sanction it. In fact this is what happened and Sandyford CC became a reality in LCU competitions in 1985, using Marlay as their home ground.

Facilities at Marlay Park

 When Sandyford first acquired use of Marlay, the facilities just consisted of an old Portacabin, which was used as a changing room, tearoom and storage room. Later on the club purchased a tearoom (left) and changing room (right) and a separate storage container

Next Chapter - Bird Avenue

Last Updated (Wednesday, 13 March 2013 12:58)