It WILL be a new-look North Fermanagh cricket team that takes to the field this weekend for their first match of the season, after the introduction of coloured clothing to the league for the first time.

In a bid to overhaul the game and boost its profile, all the teams in the North West Cricket Union have made the shift from the traditional all-white kit, and will also introduce a white ball in a bid to add some glitz to the local game.

Club Captain Greg Piergross is hopeful that the new format will help the club to continue to grow and expand.

Several years ago, the club was on the verge of extinction, and Greg hopes this season’s revolution will continue their recent increase in membership numbers.

“The change is to try and give more of an incentive for younger people to be involved,” he explained.

“The club is a lot healthier than it was four or five years ago. I can remember at the end season of my first year in 2016, we had a meeting about whether we were going to put in a team for the following year, or whether we were going to close.

“We were struggling for numbers, but ever since then we have got more and more people, and hopefully in a year or two we might even be putting in a second team.

‘Huge time and effort’

“The last few years, our Chairman, James Smith; Treasurer and Groundsman, Gordon Fitzpatrick; and Secretary, Robert Black, have put in a huge amount of time and effort to improve the way the cricket club runs and the facilities we use for training and game days, and we were lucky enough to find some great sponsors, including Lowry Construction, Hayes Caravan Sales, CF Joinery, Trevor Courier Services, Walter Beacom Financial Services Ltd, and G. F. McFarland & Sons Funeral Directors.

“This year at training, we have had more people than I’ve seen before at the sessions. It’s amazing – there’s a great buzz around the players.”

The club is Fermanagh’s only participant in the league, and they already attract players from a wide catchment area, but Greg reckons there must be more players out there who would welcome the challenge of a return to the sport.

“There is a cricket team in Enniskillen, but we are the only cricket team in Fermanagh competing at this level, and our next closest team would be in Sion Mills.

“We have a fairly good catchment area and there has to be more people that want to play,” he said.

“Maybe they played at school and want to come back, or if football is getting a bit much for them, and they want a game that is a bit less stressful on the body.

“If anyone is interested, they can contact our Facebook page, or turn up on a Tuesday or Thursday night for training.”

The team grabbed silverware recently with a cup win, and Greg is hopeful that they can be in the mix again, despite a restructuring of the league.

“We are definitely going to be very competitive,” he said. “We won the North West Cricket Union Qualifying 3 cup in 2019 and finished second in that league by only three points, so we were very close.

“They have changed the league structure around and this season we are playing with better teams, but we have picked up a few players that are pretty handy and hopefully they can get their teeth into it.”