The Hills v Pembroke, 28 August 2021 Third Man
The Hills First X1 had an immediate opportunity to make amends for the indifferent performance against Merrion last Thursday when they travelled to Sydney Parade to play Pembroke in a vital league game with another defeat making the prospect of relegation from the Premier League a live possibility. Pembroke won the toss and opted to bat first, but the Hills’ opening bowlers, Dylan Blignaut and Tomás Rooney-Murphy bowled with great accuracy and fire to maintain constant pressure on the Pembroke batsmen. By the end of the seventh over, Blignaut had taken two wickets, the first wicket falling to a smart catch by Murray Commins at first slip, the second wicket to a catch behind the wicket by Mark Dwyer. Pembroke wickets fell at regular intervals, but the Lawson brothers, Theo (73*) and Paul (26) stood firm and ensured that Pembroke ended on the competitive total of 192 runs. The Hills’ spinners, Sameer Dutt (1 wicket for 19 runs in 10 overs) and Jonathan Tall (2 wickets for 39 runs in 10 overs), bowled very well, and their bowling was complemented by a superb performance in the field, with eight catches being taken.
The consensus during the innings break was that the target would be difficult to attain because the pitch was conducive to spin, and spin bowling has consistently been the bane of Fingal cricketers’ lives. The Hills’ opening batsmen, Cormac McLoughlin-Gavin and Bhavesh Lakotia, batted circumspectly and sensibly, and the first wicket did not fall until the eleventh over, with Bhavesh being clean-bowled by Paul Lawson. Cormac was joined at the wicket by Murray Commins, and a magnificent partnership of 116 runs unfolded. Cormac scored a well-deserved half-century (53 runs), and Murray showed the form which had remained latent up to this juncture for The Hills CC. He batted until the 44th over and scored a brilliant 79 runs to bring the target within manageable proportions. Twists and turns of fate are one of the constants in the lives of supporters, and with three successive LBW decisions, the brows of the six Hills’ supporters became progressively more furrowed. There was then a stumping, and it appeared that The Hills were going to be on the wrong side of another close game with Pembroke. Cometh the hour, cometh the men. The cousins, Tomás Rooney-Murphy and Cian Nulty maintained their composure in this highly pressurised situation, and Cian’s three fours ensured that the required runs were obtained without any further alarms.
This was a fine performance by the Hills’ players, with bowling, fielding, and batting being a vast improvement on the efforts in the previous game. This was a genuine team effort, and it would be invidious to single out any player for further mention, but to compliment all of them for the manner in which they rose to the challenge. The league season is scheduled to end on Saturday, 4th September, and consequently, The Hills must play three games during the coming week. There are re-fixed games at Rathmines (Monday), the Vineyard (Tuesday) and the final league game is against Clontarf at Vineyard on Saturday. Until Monday, it is onwards and upwards.
PS Henry Tighe, the former President of Cricket Ireland and Cricket Leinster, presided over a moving ceremony during the innings break when the ashes of Cyril Irwin, the former Pembroke player, were scattered at the edge of the pitch. It was a great tribute to Cyril’s memory that so many Pembroke members and former members were present on this poignant occasion.