ADAM Dennison will make a special piece of history at Wallace Park on Friday when he represents Waringstown in the NCU Challenge Cup final against Civil Service North.
The 14-year-old will become the youngest ever player to appear in the final, breaking a record that has stood for more than 120 years, going back to 1887.
Adam is also following in the footsteps of his father David, who played in five cup finals for Waringstown in the 1980s and 1990s.
As his surname suggests, Adam is from a family of impeccable sporting pedigree. David played international cricket for Ireland and enjoyed a long career in Irish League football with Glenavon.
His uncle Robert, David’s brother, was another outstanding cricketer as a teenager, but his football ability was so exceptional that he went on to enjoy a glittering career with Wolves and Northern Ireland.
Gary Hamilton, who spent last season on loan with Glenavon, is Adam’s cousin and he and David, and the rest of the family, will be cheering him on today.
The occasion will rekindle memories for David, who produced one of the most famous innings in Challenge Cup final history in 1983, when he made a brilliant 138 as a 21-year-old against Lurgan at Downpatrick.
Of his five cup final appearances, Waringstown won on every single occasion, but it is that 1983 innings that David will always remember most.
“When I look back over my whole sporting career that was my highlight,” said David. “The fact that it came against Lurgan made it even more special for me and for the club. Adam has been keeping me going, telling me that he is going to play in a cup final when he is just 14, but I keep reminding him about the 138 I made when I was 21.”
Dennison’s Waringstown career coincided with a long golden era in the club’s history, with the famous team of the 1970s succeeded by the 1980s side that included a new generation of talent including Garfield Harrison, Alvin Spence, Shane Harrison and Alan and Noel Nelson.
The cup final successes included two over Waringstown’s cup final opponents North, who are now known as CSN.
“We always went in to those finals thinking we were going to win, we were confident because we had such a good side,” David explained. “If someone got out early you were never worried because there was always somebody coming behind you who could do the business.”
Adam may be only 14 but he’s showing signs that he could go right the way to the top. He’s already been selected for Ireland at under-13 and now under-15 level, and has impressed Waringstown captain Kyle McCallan with a staggering level of maturity as he has become a first-team regular despite his tender years.
David said: “Adam is very level-headed, and he is probably quite mature for his age. He goes out and enjoys the challenge of playing for the firsts.
“We’ve been trying not to talk about the final too much but without a shadow of a doubt it’s a great source of pride for the whole family that he will become the youngest ever player in the cup final.”
The club thanks ball sponsor Eddie Bushe in advance of Friday’s final.