Jamie Gibson pleased as Woodvale make dream top flight return

Woodvale captain Jamie Gibson could barely have dreamed for a better start to life back in the top-flight of NCU cricket, writes Johnny Morton.
Wicketkeeper Jamie Gibson in action against CarrickWicketkeeper Jamie Gibson in action against Carrick
Wicketkeeper Jamie Gibson in action against Carrick

In their first campaign back at the highest level since 2009, the Ballygomartin Road side have kicked off with an unbeaten start thanks to Robinson Services Cup victories against Lisburn and Carrickfergus.

Those results see them sitting joint-top of the table with CIYMS, who they will face on Sunday in the LVS Twenty20 Cup first round for the right to play Lisburn in the last four, but before that is today’s league clash with Waringstown.

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Having been close to promotion on several occasions in previous years, Woodvale sealed their return to the top-flight after comfortably winning Section One last season.

Teams coming up from the lower division tend to struggle, and although there is no pressure of relegation this year due to the shortened season, Woodvale have been more than impressive.

“I suppose we couldn’t have hoped for a better start to the season,” said Gibson.

“I had serious doubts about getting any cricket played this summer but we are all just thankful to see it back. We have been very close to promotion in the past few years and always just fallen short but last season I think we very much deserved it over the 18 league games.

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“We have the added benefit of having this summer to adjust to the league and build on the positives.”

Woodvale have a good mix of experience and youth in their side, with the likes of Wayne Horwood and Stephen Bunting.

Both played a major role in the promotion and have started this season well, and Gibson is delighted to be able to call on players of their calibre.

“Wayne and Stephen have recent Premier League experience and that was one of the reasons in gaining promotion last season,” he added.

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“We also have Paul Robinson, who was actually captain, the last time we played in the Premier League. Timmy Browne also brings experience as Saturday against Carrick showed.

“Wayne is still very dangerous at the top of the order and there aren’t too many guys about with the amount of experience he has playing at senior level.

“Since returning from Instonians, Stephen has been very important in all aspects.

“He won several trophies while he was away and has recent experience of playing at Interprovincial level so it would be remiss of me not draw on his experience.”

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Waringstown and CIYMS have arguably been the two best club sides in Ireland over the last few years, with the former reaching five consecutive Irish Senior Cup finals (winning three)

while CI picked up four trophies last season.

It won’t be an easy weekend for Woodvale, but that challenge is something that Gibson and his men are relishing.

“Having played for Woodvale for more than 10 years and making a few appearances back in 2009 when we last played in the top section, it’s something I’ve always wanted to do again,” he said.

“We are under no illusions as to how difficult it’s going to be but I don’t think critics would have given us two wins from the opening two games.

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“We want to see top level cricket at Ballygomartin Road as I think that’s what the club deserves.

“We will just focus on our game, play the 11 men in front of us and most importantly enjoy our cricket.”


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