June 2019

Una Raymond Hoey Interview

In the second of our conversations with women in prominent positions in the Club as part of the 20×20 initiative, the club Chairman spoke to the Women’s First XI captain, Irish international and general all round club legend, Una Raymond Hoey.

  • Captain of the First XI, Irish International, but how did your involvement in Cricket start?  

I first started playing cricket in primary school. Sandra Sargent would get us playing sometimes at Greenlanes NS during the summer and then Rod Hokin started coming down to coach. I was about 11 when I first started training at the club with the boys’ teams.

  • Tell us about youth cricket and the coaching you got as you came up through the various age groups

There were no girls’ teams for my age when I first started playing at Clontarf so I would train with the boys. I remember doing some of the summer camps at the club and Rod Hokin and Deryck Vincent would always make sure I was in a group where I was being challenged. I was one of the few girls at the time but they always made sure that I was being coached and took time to help me out. Selena Tainton was the first overseas pro at the club in 2010 and she had a big impact on me as a female role model playing for her state team in Australia. I always take high catches with the reverse-cup Australian method which is a result of her coaching when I was 13.

  • When did you make you debut for the women’s teams?

I think I started playing women’s cricket aged 12 for the Seconds and made my debut for the First XI at the end of that summer. We had a really good First team at that time with Laura Cullen as captain and players like Olivia Golden, Vivian and Gladys Shaw so I remember being really excited to get selected! I would have been seen as a bowler back then and I have vivid memories of praying that I wouldn’t have to go in to bat.

  • You had a “sabbatical” when you went to Leinster for one year when Clontarf were out of Division one, what brought you back?

Leaving Clontarf in 2016 was the hardest decision I had to make and I did so with a lot of sadness. I always knew that I would go back to Tarf but after missing the entirety of the 2017 season through injury I was more focussed on getting back to playing at all when Fiona Manning contacted me at the beginning of 2018. It was essential that the club returned to Division 1 cricket in order to continue improving and I was asked to take on the captaincy role with what was a very young side.  A lot of work had gone on in the two years I was away to improve the women’s program. Various people involved in the club and the committee are responsible for the amazing support and standards that Clontarf now has in relation to the women’s sides.

  • What has been the greatest challenge in your cricketing career to date?

A few months after making my Irish debut at 19 I tore my ACL, an injury requiring reconstructive surgery and 9 months of rehab. It happened just before selection for the World Cup Qualifiers in Sri Lanka and I found February a difficult time being at home doing my rehab and my exams while watching the girls perform in the tournament. Having said that, the injury might have been one of the best things to happen to me, as it reaffirmed how much I wanted to play for Ireland and gave me the time to physically become much stronger and fitter and work on my batting.  

  • You spent time in Perth earlier this year, tell us about your experience in Western Australia

I was really fortunate to be one of 4 recipients of the Devenish Nutrition and Cricket Ireland Overseas Development scholarships which enabled me to return to Australia this year after my semester 1 exams in February. As part of my degree at DCU, I interned at the WACA in their Sports Medicine department, working under the strength and conditioning coach and sports scientist for the professional female state side the Western Fury. As the Australian season was drawing to a close, I was only able to compete in 3 matches for club side South Perth during my time overseas. This still gave me the enviable advantage of some 150 overs in the field playing against the state’s best cricketers. Discussing cricket and batsmanship with some Australian female players such as Nicole Bolton was an unexpected advantage of my time playing in Perth.

  • You were instrumental in bringing Cassie Stephens to the club from Australia as Women’s Head Coach, how did this come about?

I met Cassie when I was playing club cricket in Perth. She is the captain of one of the opposition teams I played against and she also works with the batting coach that I was hitting with during my stay. The team Cassie plays for is in a similar developmental position to ourselves, and I could see the passion and commitment in the way she went about her coaching. While our players at Clontarf need high quality coaching, they also need someone who believes in them and genuinely wants to see them achieve and enjoy their cricket, and I think Cassie provides this.

  • How do you enjoy captaincy?

I had captained underage representative sides growing up, but I was quite nervous taking on the captaincy at Clontarf as I felt I still had so much to learn about my own game and was relatively inexperienced. I understood the significance of 2018 for Clontarf; with such a young team playing at a higher level of cricket for the first time it was critical that there was a balance between growth, enjoyment and appreciating the small successes. At the time, I was very focussed on improving my own game, but taking on the captaincy was a blessing as I feel it forced me to develop my skills at a faster pace and grow in other areas. Captaincy is a privilege as you are in a position to help create a positive and supportive team culture that players can buy into and hopefully enjoy their cricket more. From a tactical perspective, I think cricket is unique from other sports as the captain must make a lot more decisions before and throughout the game which may affect the outcome. I’ve learned a huge amount so far and I really enjoy the role and getting to work closely with all the different individuals both within the team and the club. It’s a role I’m constantly looking to improve in and hopefully create the best possible environment for the girls in the squad.

  • Not everyone is probably aware, but you are a member of the Clontarf Executive Committee, how is your experience of this being directly involved in the strategic decision making in the club?

I really enjoy playing a small role in the overall functioning of the club. I think it’s important to understand what else is going on and the work being done by other people. Clontarf relies on a core group of volunteers that have devoted a lot of their time over many years and the last year has been a real insight for me. I think the Executive Committee functions well due to the range of stakeholders involved, enabling us to give a true representation of the club from men’s, women’s and youth’s perspectives and make well-informed decisions that can benefit the whole club concurrently.

  • The club has invested heavily in coaching, how do you see the current coaching structure in the club under Isobel Joyce?

The significance of Clontarf’s commitment to securing quality coaches cannot be underestimated in my opinion. As a captain, the most reassuring thing is knowing that you have the resources in place for your team to train and improve and I think every team needs these coaches in some capacity – regardless of standard or age. The structures in place this year in the club seem extremely well organised and all-encompassing, with all age categories being well covered. It is probably one of the best rosters of coaches in Leinster and having Izzy at the helm is with her experience and dedication is something I know many clubs would be envious of. Izzy has the ability to transition seamlessly between coaching novice youth players and men’s first team players which is a real advantage to have someone with this skillset and understanding of the levels of players throughout the club.

  • In terms of the profile of women in the club and women’s and girls’ cricket in general, how do you think things are at in Clontarf?

Clontarf is one of the few clubs that I know of where there is a joint committee for the men and women’s sides of the club. This was a seminal step in bringing us to the position we’re in today, where the women feel equally supported as we endeavour to compete at the top level. The club has become more unified over the course of my career, where there is a greater awareness of the female players and fixtures. It’s great to play at Castle Avenue as we’re always well supported at home. Over the last two years I have definitely noticed a big increase in the amount of younger girls that are coming down alongside the boys to watch matches and play in the nets – something I think is invaluable for the success of the club community and fostering young players for the future. We have a young team but I think our profile has grown over the last while and if we can retain this group of players and continue to have some success I have no doubt women’s cricket will continue to grow at Clontarf.

  • The club is embracing the 20×20 initiative, what specific areas of increased participation would you like to see from women and girls?

I think cricket as a sport often fails to attract or retain the most athletic young players who tend to drift towards other sports. Cricket in primary schools has really taken off to the extent where I think most children around Dublin will have experienced a taste of the sport. However, for clubs to reap the benefits of this initial engagement, I think it’s important that secondary schools become a much bigger part of the cricket scene, as this is the age-group where players can disappear. Mount Temple is an example of where cricket is gaining some leverage, however, there is a long way to go in terms of providing successful and competitive leagues – and I think Cricket Leinster should have a part to play in this. We’ve taken some steps this season to attract novice women players and we have about 8 beginners giving cricket a go. Some of them are mothers of children from Friday night cricket. While these players might not have the interest in pursuing first team cricket, I think these types of ventures are important in making cricket more mainstream in Ireland and increasing family engagement.

  • What are your hopes for the rest of the season for the women’s and girl’s teams?

Last year was a real step into the unknown for many of our girls playing first team cricket, so it was a real bonus to finish 2018 as Senior Cup winners. We worked extremely hard as a team so it was nice to experience some success after a difficult start, but I think the players also understand that those types of wins don’t come around easily or often – and that we have a long way to go. Last season we finished fifth in a seven-team league but it will be even more difficult this year with The Hills’ withdrawment from division 1. From a more process-orientated view I would like to see us improve our performances in the 50 over format – especially as wins in the longer format are worth more points. We’ve already started off with two wins which is promising. I’d like to see a few big performances from some of our other batters this year. There is plenty of opportunity for them to get time at the middle while still batting with senior players such as myself, Cassie and Isobel who are strategically spread down the order.

  • You will be coaching the “Slaney Sharks” in the Hundred Blast competition, you must be excited about this?

This is a first in Ireland and I think is targeting a really specific and important group – similar to the one which I mentioned above. The tournament is for girls aged 16 to 22 who are not involved in any representative sides. The event will follow the Super 3s format, with the 100 ball matches being played back-to-back over three weekends in the summer. I would have loved something like this – competitive cricket with an emphasis on enjoyment and the chance to play with peers from other clubs who are your own age. There are several girls playing in the 3 teams from Clontarf which I’m delighted about. As the competition is being run by Sue and Rob O’Connor I am sure it will be a fantastic event. It was a pleasure to be asked to coach one of the teams and I hope I can help add to the team’s enjoyment and offer some advice to younger players.

  • We are all delighted and proud to see you in the Ireland team, what are you goals for international cricket in the next few years?

Playing for Ireland is something I never take for granted – as you never know what is going to happen with selection or injury. I’ve probably always been seen as more of a 50 overs player, however, over the last 18 months I’ve really worked hard on making my game more adaptable to the shorter format, and I was lucky to have a good club season last year scoring 655 runs with a SR of 119. I would like to be a constant player in the Irish team – no-matter the format. A short-term focus is to be selected for the T20 WCQs in Scotland at the end of the summer but with the changing dynamic of Irish women’s cricket, it’s an exciting time to be involved in the sport. Six of the girls are now on part-time contracts which is a great commitment from CI. It’s come about 10 years after the men first received contracts but you would hope that it will grow from here. Four of the senior players who paved the way for us have just recently retired so I’m excited to hopefully contribute over the next few years to a changing culture as a younger team finds its feet at the international level.

  • Finally, we can’t let you go without talking about that 150 not out! Tell us about how it felt waving your bat when you got to 100 and walking off unbeaten at the end of the innings?

I’ve had a few low scores so far this season so to contribute to a big win for us was really pleasing. I think a lot of batters will relate to the over-riding feeling of relief that you’ve done your job for the team when you make runs. I’ve been working on a few different things at training so it was definitely nice for it to come together and to know that I can sustain an innings for that period of time.

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