21st May 2022
The opening games of the Bob Kerr Irish Senior Cup are always eagerly anticipated because they provide the opportunity for teams from the different cricket unions to play against each other. The Hills CC, winners of the competition in 2012 and 2014, faced the arduous trip to Ballymagorry in County Tyrone to play against Fox Lodge. After a week of torrential rain in the North-West, there was a great deal of uncertainty regarding the possibility of the game being played at all, but the optimists prevailed, and after a one-hour delay for some work to be done on the run-ups, the toss was taken. Fox Lodge won the toss, and somewhat surprisingly decided to bat.
Dylan Blignaut who bowled a brilliant unchanged spell of 8 overs, took a wicket off the third ball of the first over, and then bowled Marco Marais with the first ball that Marais faced. Marais, Fox Lodge’s professional, was the player on whom Fox Lodge’s hopes resided, and his dismissal effectively ended the game as a contest. Blignaut and Tomás Rooney-Murphy imposed a stranglehold on the batsmen and runs became as scarce as hens’ teeth. 2 wickets for 2 runs became 3 wickets for 6, 4 wickets for 6 and 5 wickets for 11. There was then a 14-run partnership before the 6th wicket fell, and the last 4 Fox Lodge wickets were taken for 4 runs. Blignaut was the undoubted star of the show with 7 wickets for 12 runs; Tomás Rooney-Murphy took two wickets for 12 runs and the other wicket was taken by Ashley Bain. The Hills’ fielding was tremendous with superb catches being taken by Blignaut, Bain, and Andrew Kavanagh, and there was a magnificent stumping by Mark Donegan. The Fox Lodge innings ended in the 15th over, and The Hills faced a target of 29 runs.
Levon Shields and Andrew Kavanagh opened the batting for The Hills, and Shields started like a man who wished to get home early because he had scored 23 runs out of the first 24 runs before he was dismissed by a ball that kept low and would have caused a problem for any batsman in the world. Mark Donegan and Andrew Kavanagh brought proceedings to a close in the 5th over, and The Hills CC had overcome its first hurdle in its quest for Bob Kerr Irish Cup glory. Of necessity, celebrations were muted because The Hills CC had a very important Sports Hub League Cup game against Trinity College on the following day. Onwards and upwards.