Limavady captain Andrew Riddles admits he has been left “shocked and devastated” after the club’s dramatic withdrawal from senior cricket in the North West.
The Roesiders, three-time Irish Cup winners and a dominant force in North West cricket for the previous two decades, will play next season in Qualifying One following a decision by the general committee of Limavady Cricket and Rugby Football Club.
Glendermott, relegated from Senior One last season, will replace Riddles’ side in the new eight-team North West Premier League, leaving Limavady’s very existence as a cricket entity hanging in the balance.
Riddles conceded there was little prospect of himself and other big names like Decker Curry, Andy Britton and Richard McDaid remaining at The John Hunter Grounds.
“I can’t believe this has happened. It’s a very sad day for Limavady and for North West cricket as a whole,” he said.
“I had been due to meet Ivan (Lapsley) but then I heard the news from somewhere else. It’s come as a shock and a real disappointment for me because I’ve been a Limavady player for seven years.”
Lapsley has been the driving force behind Limavady’s success but it seems the likely departures of several key players forced his hand and that of the Limavady committee.
“At times last season Limavady struggled to field 11 recognised players so major departures would have left them in danger of being embarrassed in the top flight.
Riddles added: “I wouldn’t have a bad word to say about Ivan. He has treated me brilliantly throughout my time with Limavady. I will meet him to discuss what’s happened. I haven’t even thought about where I’ll play next season.”
A North West board meeting on Thursday night agreed to Limavady’s formal request. They will now play in the union’s third tier in 2013.
The club’s statement said: “The general committee of Limavady Cricket and Rugby Football Club has taken this decision reluctantly and only after carefully examining all options available.
“Limavady Cricket Club has a proud and distinguished history, having been one of the leading teams in the North West and indeed in Ireland for many years, winning not only the various North West trophies on many occasions but also the All Ireland Cup.
“The general committee believe that this decision is the correct approach in the long term interests of the club.
“The club exists to provide sport for the community; currently there are five sporting sections: cricket, rugby, hockey, soccer and bowls and each individual sporting section has associated costs.
“The general committee has the overall responsibility of managing the club finances and has to be realistic about the costs associated with such provision and tailor their ambitions accordingly.
“In the current economic climate LimavadyCRFC cannot afford the expense of maintaining a competitive cricket team at the highest level.
“By taking this decision now the committee hope to preserve the long term future of cricket at the club. The club will have a single cricket team in the forthcoming season and it is the intention to build on this foundation and the hope is that in future years Limavady can again become competitive at the highest level.”