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12 Years After Second Ireland Football Cap, Waldron Loving Pro Cricket

26 April 2023; Certa, Ireland's largest fuel supplier, is the new title sponsor of the Ireland Women's Cricket Team. The partnership will fuel Cricket Ireland's ambition to develop women's cricket as a major sport in Ireland, and to develop into a major nation in world cricket. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
By PJ Browne Updated
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When the offer of a full-time contract from Cricket Ireland came Mary Waldron's way last year, she didn't have to think about taking it.

"I've always wanted to be a professional sportsperson, and I'm doing it now," says Waldron, speaking at the announcement of Certa, Ireland's largest fuel supplier, as the new title sponsor of the Ireland Women's Cricket Team.

'I only took up cricket properly in my mid-20s'

Waldron, Ireland's wicketkeeper, was one of a handful to become the first female Irish cricketers to sign professional deals.

"I only took up cricket properly in my mid-20s," says the 38-year-old.

"I feel like I still have a lot to learn about the sport, and I'm still developing as a player.

"The main difference is having the time to really rest and prepare. Before, we would have had full-time jobs, and you're in the gym at 6am. You're rushing in traffic to get to the office. Then you're training after.

"Having that time to chill, prepare your food, and just rest your body after [is beneficial]. We train three, four, five times a week now. So, we're upping our skills with the coaches as well."


22 November 2008; Mary Waldron, St Francis, scores the winning penalty against Peamount United. FAI Umbro Women's Senior Cup Final, St Francis v Peamount United, Richmond Park, Dublin. Picture credit: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE

A decade ago, Waldon had a choice forced upon her: football or cricket. Ireland had qualified for the T20 World Cup for the first time and they were training six times a week to prepare. She was also captain of the Raheny United women's football team. Something had to give.


Football slipped away. Though, two years before it did, Waldron won the second of two caps for Ireland, lining out with players who still populate the World Cup-bound squad. Louise Quinn, Áine O'Gorman, Meghan Campbell and Niamh Fahey were international teammates.

"We're all professional sports players now, which is great," she says.

"I would absolutely be watching the girls. I was Katie McCabe's captain when she was playing in Raheny. To see her development as a player now is amazing. I'm so proud of that group.


"I message Louise Quinn when they do something awesome - which is pretty regularly! I'm very much looking forward to supporting them in July Down Under."

Waldron's transition to becoming a wicketkeeper was "very organic and random".

19 July 2022; Ireland wicketkeeper Mary Waldron catches a missed shot by Ayesha Naseem of Pakistan during the Women's T20 International match between Ireland and Pakistan at Bready Cricket Club in Bready, Tyrone. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

"Everybody always says that 'You must have played in goal in football' but I was a midfielder and a forward," she says.


"I play club cricket with Prembroke. Our wicketkeeper at the time was the Irish wicketkeeper. She was also an archaeologist and she had to go away for the summer on a dig.


"Our captain at the time, Ciara Metcalfe, was just like, 'OK, you're going to do it'. I was given the job. The following season, the Ireland A coach saw me keeping in a warm-up game and invited me to training that week."

The Ireland squad is a youthful one, with an average age of 24.

"It's difficult at times. I'm from a different generation completely," says Waldron.


"I barely had a phone when I was that age! We're lightyears apart. Anyone who knows me, I'm definitely not the most mature minded on the team. I try to connect with the girls on a different level. Most of all, I love playing cricket. So, I hope that rubs off on the girls, and keeps their work ethic and drive going in training.

"No one replies to a WhatsApp but if you Snapchat them, I'm sure they reply. People have different tastes in music, and I see their fashion sense coming around now with the flares, and I still have PTSD from my own youth about flares. There's always plenty of banter."

3 June 2022; Ireland players, from left, Cara Murray, Mary Waldron and Gaby Lewis celebrate the wicket of Laura Wolvaardt of South Africa during the Women's T20 International match between Ireland and South Africa at Pembroke Cricket Club in Dublin. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

Earlier this year, Waldron played at her fourth T20 World Cup. It ended in disappointment with Ireland failing to win a game. Though, Ireland's Orla Prendergast was named on the Team of the Tournament.

"There's huge improvements in our performance," says Waldron.

"We were nearly favourites against Pakistan, and we probably should have won against the West Indies. That in itself is one of the little wins for us. Not winning a game is obviously disappointing. There's huge improvements in this really young side - excluding myself, obviously! We're definitely going in the right direction.

"You do the reflection after the games, and post series, and you do your own reflection along the way. I think what really stood out was a bit of nerves overall in the group. To be fair, there were a huge amount of World Cup debuts in that group. Our skills were very good at times. You gain experience."

This summer will be a busy one for Ireland. They have a six-game tour against the West Indies and a three-game T20 tour of the Netherlands. In between, Australia visit Dublin for three one day internationals.

"Some championship points," says Waldron about their ambitions for the summer.

"That away series against the West Indies, we'll be looking to get our first championship points on the board, and really be competitive in the T20 series against them."

Certa operates Ireland's largest network of unmanned, [email protected] forecourts and home heating depots. Certa is part of DCC plc. For more information visit: certaireland.ie.

See Also: How Ursula Jacob Made Her Senior Inter-County Camogie Debut At 14

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