With three defeats and no wins, this game was in the “must win” category for Clontarf, and of all the teams in the IBI Corporate Finance Premier League, The Hills was probably the team that it would have chosen to play against when it was in this predicament because in the recent past, The Hills invariably reserved its worst display of the season for games against Clontarf. The Hills won the toss, elected to bowl, and had a very positive start when it took a wicket when there were only 9 runs on the board. A period of circumspect cricket followed, and The Hills’ bowlers were totally on top in the early stages of the game. A second wicket fell when 45 runs had been scored, and it appeared that The Hills would be adding to Clontarf’s tale of woe. However, a stand of 122 runs between Eoin Delany (78) and P J Moor (76) altered the complexion of the game completely, and when Eoin Delany was out with the score on 188, David, his brother, revelled in the challenge and scored a quickfire 49 runs. The last ten overs of an innings are crucial because whichever team comes out on top, goes into the second innings with a sense of momentum. Clontarf put on almost 80 runs in the last 10 overs and could be very content with its total of 246 runs for the loss of 6 wickets. With regard to the bowling figures for The Hills, Tomás Rooney-Murphy took 2 wickets for 51 runs off 10 overs, Dylan Blignaut took 1 for 35 off 10 overs, and Levon Shields took 1 for 33 off 5 overs.
247 runs was a daunting target for The Hills, and it became even more daunting when it lost 2 wickets with no run on the board. Mark Donegan (34) and Andrew Kavanagh (39) set about rebuilding the innings and compiled a stand of 57 runs. Dylan Blignaut (38) and Andrew Kavanagh added a further 48 runs, but wickets continued to fall at regular intervals, and The Hills was always well behind the required run-rate. There were contributions from Levon Shields (18) and Matthew Weldon (23), but the big innings which was required from at least one Hills’ player never occurred, and The Hills ended up on 195, beaten by 51 runs.
In many respects, this result was a self-fulfilling prophecy because in recent times, The Hills have rarely played well at Castle Avenue. What was unusual about this performance in comparison with other Hills’ performances this season, was that the batsmen who got starts did not go on to compile a big score. The ground fielding continues to be a source of concern, but the bowlers deserve credit for a disciplined display because only 5 bowling extras were conceded, and wicketkeeper Mark Donegan did not concede a single bye. The Hills will have an immediate opportunity to address some of the failings when it entertains Lisburn at The Vineyard on Sunday in the Irish Senior Cup. Until then, it is onwards and upwards.