Former town club cricketer and teacher

Ernie McCleary in his playing days with Cliftonville. INLM0713-11
Ernie McCleary in his playing days with Cliftonville. INLM0713-11

A SCHOOL teacher who played cricket for the Lurgan club died at hospital on February 8 at the age of 88.

James Warren McCleary, better known as Ernie, played with Lurgan before moving on to play for Cliftonville at both cricket and soccer.

Between 1948 and 1957 he won 14 amateur caps for Northern Ireland and in 1955 won one full cap.

At centre half in the 1948/49 season he was part of the Northern Ireland amateur side who defeated England 1-0, the first win for an Irish side on English soil.

A stalwart of the province’s amateur side for many years he also played for the Irish League team that lost 2-1 to the League of Ireland at Dalymount Park in 1955.

The same year he gained his only full cap, again at centre half, when he played for Northern Ireland in their 3-2 defeat at the hands of Wales at Windsor Park.

Born in Hillsborough he had family connections with Moira and on Monday a service of thanksgiving was held in Moira Parish Church, preceded by a private burial.

Ernie began his teaching career in Newry before moving to Annalong.

He joined the staff of Friends School, Lisburn, in the late 1960s where he taught French.

He was also in charge of the boarding school which existed at the time and he retired in the mid 1990s.

He was the husband of the late Gloria, late of Lenamore Park, Lisburn, and the father of Joanna and Brenda.