ARMIDALE District Cricket Association’s recent junior presentation and awards afternoon provided an opportunity for local cricketers to come together to recognise outstanding team and individual efforts during the season.
The highlight of the afternoon was the presentation of the Sportspower Junior Cricketer of the Year award, which went to 14-year-old Liam Neeson.
Neeson, who plays for Hillgrove’s U14 and U16 sides, also picked up the association’s U14s batting average award (with an average of 94) and the U14s rep player of the year trophy.
His achievements this season include accumulating 668 runs with over 300 of those at representative level, three representative half-centuries and a century for Hillgrove’s under 16s side.
Also a handy bowler, the year 9 O’Connor student will fondly remember a schoolboy game against McCarthy Catholic College earlier in the season where he claimed five wickets in one over, including a hat-trick, and finished with the impressive bowling figures of 6-10.
“The highlight of my season would be scoring a hundred, but our team making it to the final in rep was also a great achievement”, Neeson said.
Neeson’s U16s Hillgrove teammate Lochlan Elks was recognised for his contribution to junior cricket in Armidale as he prepares to move into the senior ranks.
Elks, who is well-known for his aggressive batting style, and fiery quick bowling, has represented Northern Inland and Central North as well as Armidale, and also stepped up this season to play in Armidale’s first grade representative side.
In addition to individual awards, winning teams were presented with their Premiership medallions.
Hillgrove won the under 16s division, Norths the under 14s, Uralla took out the under 12s, and Hillgrove Brumbies ended a very successful season to be named the Under 10/11 Premiers.
Youngster Hamish Biddle proved he is a player to watch for the future, coming away with the batting aggregate and average awards for the under 10/11 age division, scoring 214 runs at an average of 71.
Junior president Michael Dennis commented on the level of enthusiasm in junior cricket over the past season, both at a club and representative level.
Consistent numbers at club level and Armidale’s involvement in the Lismore U12 and Ballina U13s carnival, as well as its impressive performance in the Walter Taylor Shield carnival this year has highlighted the level of interest that exists amongst juniors at present.
Armidale’s representative sides once again performed well in the Northern Inland Competition, with the under 12s finishing equal second, and under 14s just missing out on the Premiership with a loss to Inverell in the Final.
“The impressive performances of the under 12s and under 14s representative sides in the Northern Inland competition have proven that Armidale can perform well at this level, which is very encouraging”, he said.