(131 for 5) to (130 for 9)
A Win for North County by 5 wickets
On Saturday last, North County and The Hills met in a top of the table clash in Section D of the Sports Hub League Cup. Each team had three wins and one loss up to this point, and it was unarguable that the result of this game would have a decisive impact on the quest for qualification in the semi-final stage of the competition.
In what cricket commentators refer to as “seam-friendly bowling conditions”, Eddie Richardson, North County’s Captain, won the toss and not unexpectedly decided that his team would field first. Recently, Cormac McLoughlin-Gavin, the fine Hills batsman has struggled for runs, and he was out to a catch by Niall McGovern off the bowling of Richardson when there were only three runs on the scoreboard. Mark Donegan and Murray Commins (14) brought the score up to 23 when Commins was out to a superb catch by John Mooney again off the bowling of Eddie Richardson. The next partnership, Donegan and Blignaut (12) ended on 44 runs when Blignaut was out to a catch by Luke Whelan, the North County wicketkeeper, off the bowling of Ghaffar. Mark Donegan (34) continued his impressive form of recent weeks, and there were cameos by Andrew Kavanagh (23) and Will Archer (18), but a score of 130 runs appeared well-short of being a competitive total. The bowling honours for North County were taken by Richardson with 5 wickets for 20 runs in 4 overs while Andrew Sheridan took 2 wickets, and there was a wicket each for Abdul Ghaffar, John Mooney, and Cian Mulvaney.
Local derbies are notoriously difficult to predict, and the Hills’ opening bowlers, Dylan Blignaut and Tomás Rooney-Murphy set about showing that the visitors were not going to lie down without a fight. Blignaut took 2 wickets in a splendidly hostile spell, and he was well-supported by Rooney-Murphy. By the eighth over, North County had lost 4 wickets with only 34 runs on the scoreboard, and the visiting supporters dared to hope. Amidst the carnage, Niall McGovern batted in an imperturbable fashion and his innings provided the foundation for the onslaught which John Mooney launched on the Hills’ bowlers. Mc Govern (37) and Mooney (53*) brought the North County score up to 120 runs when McGovern was clean bowled by the returning Blignaut, but it was too little, too late for The Hills. The remaining runs when knocked off with consummate ease by Mooney and Sludds, and North County reached the target in the 18th over. On the evidence of this performance, John Mooney would be a decided asset on the Irish T20 and/or 50 overs teams. He bowled an economical spell; he took an excellent catch to dismiss Murray Commins and he gave a brilliant display of controlled batting. With Mooney in imperious form and Eddie Richardson bowling as well as ever, North County will start as clear favourites when Dublin University CC visits the Inch on Saturday next in the final game of the league section of this competition.
For The Hills CC, this was a disappointing performance. There is no lack of effort; the bowling is competent, but the batting unit has not reached anything like the standard of which it is capable. The visit of Phoenix to the Vineyard for next Saturday’s game will provide an opportunity for the players to validate the cliché, “form is temporary, but class is permanent.” Until then, it is onwards and upwards.