Limavady Cricket & Rugby Football Club History

Limavady Cricket and Rugby Football Club is a multi-sports club fielding teams in Cricket, Rugby Football, Ladies Hockey, Short Mat Bowls and Association Football.

According to Mr. W.H.W Platt cricket in Limavady dates back as far as 1856 and the Limavady Cricket Club was founded in 1865 at a meeting in the “Newsroom”, Market Street. The Club initially played “friendly” matches against other local Clubs. The first recorded competitive match was played in July 1888 against Dungiven in the County Derry Cricket Union Challenge Cup. Limavady went on to win the competition beating Donemana by 31 runs in the final. Over the following half-century there were several periods, sometimes due to hostilities, when Limavady did not field a team and when competing had variable results. They were promoted to the Senior League in 1959 and won their first Championship in 1961 and their first Senior Cup in 1965.

Rugby in Limavady started in 1922 at the Drennan home, Carse Hall, with a friendly game between Foyle College and a local side gathered up for the occasion.

An organised club, playing at Roe Mill Road, flourished between the years 1923-26. The club ceased to function for a period of years, 1926-31, resuming on the return of the Drennan brothers from New Zealand. It is this New Zealand influence, which is responsible for the Club’s black playing strip.

In 1932 the club joined the Northwest league under Drennan's captaincy with John Thompson, a local schoolmaster, as secretary.

The playing arena was now in Killane Road

The highlight of this era in the club's history was reaching the Town's Cup Final in 1938. Unfortunately they were defeated by local rivals Coleraine by the score of eleven points to five.

Play was called to a halt when war broke out but a game was played around 1940 against a Royal Engineers team. Gus Risman, English rugby league star, played for the Army side and apparently did not relish the hard tackling of Limavady's John Mark and Billy Moody.

In the local Grammar School boy numbers were small and hockey and rugby vied for popularity through the years. However, in 1947 rugby restarted in the school after a lapse of several years. In the school magazine of 1948-49 the rugby club notes contained this statement: 'Is it too much to hope that there will ever again be a Limavady Town XV?'

After the cessation of hostilities a meeting was arranged. Among those present were - John Mark, Matt Drennan, Jas Shannon, Rev. Matt Evans and S. C. Clayden, headmaster of the Grammar School. Training sessions were arranged and the team entered the Northwest Minor League.

The Showgrounds in Rathmore Road became the new playing home of the club where, in the early fifties, Ernest Barrett, Fred Wakefield, Billy Thompson, Bill Bryans, etc., played regularly for the club. Schoolboys of talent were now more readily available, among these being Warren Trotter and Morrell Lyons.

The season 1960-1961 saw the formation of a second XV, which was immediately successful in its own playing record as well as supplying reserve strength to the first XV.

Around 1960 the club moved to its present home at the Demesne. Under the captaincy of Tom Barnett the club had a very successful run in the Town's Cup in 1963.

A 3rd XV was now being fielded each Saturday meaning that the Alexander Arms Hotel did get a little overcrowded some Saturday afternoons.


On September 14, 1968 the Rugby and Cricket Clubs were finally amalgamated. The event was marked by the formal opening of the club's permanent home the John Hunter Memorial Grounds. The day will always be remembered for the rugby match between an Irish XV led by Noel Murphy (former British and Irish Lions coach) and senior side Civil Service and a cricket match between the full West Indies side led by the great Gary Sobers playing against an Ireland XV.

The new club grew in stature and with the introduction of a 4th XV sights were now firmly set on the next landmark - our own clubhouse. new clubhouse was opened on April 28, 1972. This was the realisation of a dream for all club members and a great day was had by all although some memories are still a bit fuzzy. The occasion was marked by a visit to the club of many rugby and cricket personalities. The rugby match featured a match between the Ulster President's XV and a Limavady Select side, which contained many internationals led by Syd Millar (Ireland and British Lions).


The Clubs President John Hunter through his leadership and patronage improved the position of the North West Cricket Union in Irish and he became Irish Cricket Union President in 1974. On the field the Club won the Senior League in 1976 and competed in the Senior Cup Final in 1980 against Sion Mills. The match was remembered for Limavady’s recruitment of the great Indian Test player Kapil Dev and the controversial end to the final, Limavady being awarded the match when Sion Mills failed to turn up for the concluding days play.

In 1979 the clubhouse extension was formally opened and this added the new dimensions of squash, and indoor bowls to the club's sporting life and further increased club membership. The squash courts were converted into changing rooms -date- to accommodate the increased number of sporting teams.  The Club has regularly entered two bowling teams in the North West Zone of the Irish Indoor Bowling Association with notable success in the 2000’s when the A team won the league eight years in a row.

It was really a case of 'what might have been' in the 1980's. The club fielded some very talented teams with players such as the young Derek McAleese, Stanley Nicholl and Robin Pigott. Derek McAleese captained the side, which won the old Junior League Section 4 in 1984-85, and Stanley Nicholl's side lost the section 3 title in 1986-87 to a last minute drop goal against Holywood. The same team also lost out on a visit to Ravenhill, going down to Rainey Old Boys in a Town's Cup Semi-final 0-3, played on a horrendous night in Magherfelt. It was generally agreed that the Roesiders deserved to win. 

The 1999/2000 was Limavady’s most successful ever season, seeing them win Section 2, getting to the Town's Cup final at Ravenhill only to be beaten again by senior club Ballymena, and winning the Bank of Ireland Floodlit Cup against hosts Coleraine. Limavady also had a new captain in Mark Nicholl. Limavady also hosted the Interprovincial between Junior Ulster v Connacht, with Limavady second row Glenn Crawford starring for an Ulster win.

So by the start of the 2000/01 season Limavady, under the coaching of Terry McMaster, had come from section 4 in 1995 to the top junior league in 4 seasons, a great feat for a small Provincial Town. That season Limavady finished a very creditable 3rd place in Qualifying, and also reached both the semi-finals of the Junior and Town's Cup. erial photo by andy cameron

In cricket the Club became the team to beat and won the Senior League Championship seven seasons in a row (1994-2000), the North West Senior Cup three times (1997,1999 and 2000) and the All Ireland Senior Cup twice (1994 and 1997).

The Limavady First XV enjoyed 4 successful seasons with Herbie Parkhill at the helm. The club was now established in Qualifying One, and had shown that they could compete with the best.

Remaining undefeated for most of the 2005/06 season, Limavady appeared to be on the verge of Senior Rugby, before losing form late in the season.

Since then, the club's First XV has been going through a transition phase, following a mass exodus of senior players to retirement.

The Club reached the final of the Junior Cup in 2010 losing to a strong Armagh XV. Since then there has been a steady decline in results with relegation from Qualifying League 1 in 2012 and from Qualifying League 2 in 2014. However the Club has a thriving mini section has has been developing its youth rugby and is looking optimistically to the future.

Due to financial pressures the Club withdrew from senior cricket in 2013 but continues to field a junior team with a determination to build for the future. The team had a very successful 2014 season with a league and cup double.

An Association Football section was started in 2012 fielding two teams and continues to thrive.

Ladies hockey was first played in Limavady in 1924 with the Roe Valley Hockey Club winning the North West League at their first attempt. A 2nd XI was added in 1992 competing in Minor League section 3. This team made steady progress finishing as Intermediate League section 3 winners in 2001. The 1st XI also steadily climbed the leagues and in 2001, as winners of Qualifying League section one represented Ulster in the Costley Cup.

In recent years the team has made further steady progress up the leagues. Last season they won the Intermediate Cup and were second in Senior League 3 missing out on promotion in a penalty shoot-out in a play-off match.