SUNDAY past was a red letter day for North West cricket when the Union’s former chairman, Joe Doherty, was officially unveiled as the new President of Cricket Ireland at the governing body’s AGM in Dundalk.
The 64-year old native of Strabane has been deeply involved in cricket here all his life, attending his first ever game, Strabane v St Johnston, in 1955 with his father Joe and grandfather Charlie.
Joe senior died suddenly the following year, aged just 37, but despite everything, junior had been bitten by the bug.
Joe’s playing career began in 1960 when he turned out for Strabane’s first Boys team under the management of the legendary John Devine.
He played for and skippered the side during the next six years alongside the likes of Raymond Moan, Aidan Devine and Bob Rankin (Sion and Bready didn’t have Boys’ teams at that time) and opening bat Shaun Gallagher whom he recalls was a hotelier in Blackpool the last he heard.
Joe made the Strabane senior team in 1969 against Glendermott at The Rectory, taking 3-18 including, he recalled, the wickets of Billy Godfrey and John Watson.
His highest score in senior cricket was 67; v Burndennett in 1981 and his best bowling return 4 for 9; v Ardmore in 1974.
Strabane had a superb panel of players to choose from in that era of course so Joe had a very productive Intermediate career as well including the Intermediate Cup in 1979, 2 Swilly Cups, 2 junior leagues and the Junior Cup in 1986 when he was skipper.
He was also a member of the “Dixie’s” team that included John Cochrane of Donemana and the late Thomas Harpur (Junior) that won the Sion Mills KO Cup in 1969 and twice took 9 wickets in an Intermediate match- 9 for 59 v Waterside in 1975 and 9-17 v. Drummond in 1988.
Joe moved to live in Derry in 1973 after marriage to Maureen and began as Strabane club delegate to the North West Cricket Union (NWCU) in 1977. He was elected Chairman at Strabane in 1986 (for 6 years) and President in 1993 (for 7 years).