John Mooney

Born, February 10, 1982, John Francis Mooney is a former cricketer from Ireland and is one of 11 cricketers who played Ireland’s first-ever international game. Besides cricket, he has been involved in few controversies too. On his birthday, Abhishek Kumar digs out 13 interesting things about one of Ireland’s most successful cricketers.

1. Cricketing family

Mooney’s elder brother Paul was also a cricketer and has represented Irish side in only four ODIs. He retired just after playing a single game in ICC Cricket World Cup 2007 against South Africa as he wanted to help the national side in its development.

2. Part of Ireland’s inaugural ODI match

Mooney is one of those Irish cricketers who have played Ireland’s first international game. His debut and Ireland’s first ODI match was against England on June 13, 2006 at Belfast, where they lost by 38 runs. He bowled seven over and took three big wickets of Marcus Trescothick, Paul Collingwood and Ian Bell. He also scored a gritty 30 from 26 balls.

3. Electrician

After school, Mooney went to South Africa, where he played club cricket and after coming back to Ireland, he continued playing the game. In between he couldn’t continue his education and after playing the ICC Cricket World Cup 2007, he took a break to complete his electrical apprenticeship to become a professional electrician.

4. Full-time contract

After Ireland A won the 2008 European Cricket Championship under John Mooney’s captaincy and some big performance in ICC World T20 2009, he was awarded a full-time contract in January 2010. This contract allowed him to focus more on the game ahead of ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 as earlier he had rely on other jobs for income.

5. Mooney’s ‘Ray Houghton moment’: Ray Houghton is the former Irish footballer who is most remembered for two most important goals in the history of Ireland football, against England and Italy. After defeating England in the group stage of ICC Cricket World Cup 2007, Mooney described that moment as his ‘‘Ray Houghton moment’ in a report from The Irish Times. He took four crucial wickets in that match in 10 overs by conceding 63 runs. His four wickets involved Jonathan Trott, Ian Bell, Paul Collingwood and Tim Bresnan. He also scored unbeten 33 off 30 balls and scored the winning hit in their famous chase of 328 runs.

6. Suspended for three matches

In April 2013, Mooney was suspended for three matches by Cricket Ireland for posting an insensitive tweet after the death of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. He tweeted, “I hope it was slow and painful”, on April 8, 2013. Though he quickly deleted that tweet but it came into notice and Cricket Ireland’s chief executive Warren Deutron called it “crass, insensitive and offensive”.

7. 10 wickets against Afghanistan

During the ICC Intercontinental Cup 2011-20113/14 final match between Ireland and Afghanistan on December 2013 at Dubai, Mooney took five wickets in both the innings and helped his team to their fourth title of the tournament. Mooney ended with the figures of 10 for 81.

8. Almost committed suicide

Mooney revealed that he had thought of committing suicide during 2FM’s Game Show on September 11, 2014. Mooney missed the ICC World T20 2014 as he was receiving treatment for his ongoing stress-related illness. Prior to battling with depression, he said he thought of killing himself. “I have had suicidal thoughts. I had to tell my wife about it. She was devastated. That was the first time I had to go into St Pats. It would have been easy to go through with the plan I had. But to go through the process of getting help was the best decision I ever made.”

9. Man of winning hit

Mooney was once again in the team for ICC Cricket World Cup 2015. He once again played a crucial role in winning the first match of Ireland against West Indies in another famous chase of 305 runs. He took one wicket in the match and that was of dangerous Darren Sammy and once again he was the man to hit the winning boundary, like he did in 2011 World Cup against England.

10. One of the 4 Irish to play three World Cups

Mooney is among those players who have represented his team in four back to back World Cups tournaments. Started from 2007 and then continued to 2011 and 2015. Beside him, Kevin O’ Brien, Niall O’Brien and Irish captain William Porterfield are the only cricketer from the nation to play in three World Cups.

11. The controversial catch of Sean Williams

During the group stage match between Zimbabwe and Ireland, Sean Williams and captain Brendan Taylor had almost won the match Zimbabwe. But after Taylor got out, it was all in Williams’ hand to take the match from there and he had almost done that had Mooney had not taken that controversial catch at deep midwicket with his feet almost touching the boundary rope. After the match, Zimbabwean captain Taylor said, “You’ve got to take his (Mooney’s) word for it. They zoomed in, and I thought it was pretty clear. But you’ve got to take the fielder’s word.”

Zimbabwean media criticised Mooney and The Herald published an article criticising Mooney, headlined ‘Alcoholic dumps Zim out of World Cup’. The article was criticised by the cricket fraternity and even Taylor showed him support to Mooney.

12. Mooney’s Hattrick: During the ICC World T20 Qualifier match between Jersey and Ireland, Mooney emerged as the hero of the match, as he took a hat-trick in the last over of their innings. Further Ireland easily chased down the total of 122.

13. Retirement

On December 2015, Mooney called it a day and announced his retirement from international cricket. The Irish cricketer further wanted to focus running his gym, personal training business and giving more time to his young family. “At this stage of my career, I’m beginning to think about what comes next, especially commitments to my new gym and personal training business. I’ve always given 100% to the team, and it wouldn’t be fair on them to keep going if I’m not fully committed”, said Mooney on quitting from cricket.

(Abhishek Kumar is an aspiring cricket statistician and reporter with CricketCountry. He can be followed at @abhik2593.)