In recent times, the ground at Sydney Parade has become something of a fortress for the home team; thus, it was more in hope than confidence that The Hills travelled across to the Southside to play Pembroke on Saturday last. The Hills won the toss, and as has been its custom for some time, decided to field first. With the wicket of Rob Kelly being taken when only 8 runs had been scored, the auguries were positive for The Hills, but that was as good as it got for the visiting team. The Tucker brothers, Diarmuid and Lorcan, provided an object lesson in combating any of the difficulties which might be posed in the early stages of an innings with loose deliveries being despatched to the boundary and good deliveries hit for 1 run or blocked. The second wicket partnership brought the score up to 112 runs, and by the half-way stage of the first innings, it appeared that The Hills would be chasing a score somewhere in excess of 300 runs. It was greatly to the credit of The Hills’ bowlers and fielders that they persevered in the face of an onslaught from Lorcan Tucker who was eventually dismissed by a brilliant piece of fielding by Tomás Rooney-Murphy off the bowling of Ashley Bain when he had scored 116 runs. The last five Pembroke wickets were taken for 35 runs, and Pembroke ended up on 269 runs which was slightly above par, but it meant that The Hills had not been batted out of the game. Of The Hills’ bowlers, Tomás Rooney-Murphy continues to lead by example and took 3 wickets for 36 runs in 10 overs; Dylan Blignaut’s figures were 2 for 46 in 8.1 overs and Ashley Bain took 2 for 63 in 10 overs
When a big target is being chased, it is essential that some of the top order batsmen score heavily; Cormac McLoughlin scored 6 runs, Mark Donegan was run out without scoring, Andrew Kavanagh scored 2 runs, and Murray Commins (40) was proceeding very nicely until he was deceived by a straight ball by Paul Lawson. The pressure was now on Dylan Blignaut (71) and Tomás Rooney-Murphy (22) and a stand of 90 runs caused some furrowed brows among the Pembroke faithful. Dylan’s wicket fell when the score was 177 runs, and the last 4 wickets fell for 8 runs to give Pembroke a victory margin of 84 runs.
On the day, the better team won, but The Hills showed great resolve by continuing to compete despite elements of its performance being well-below its usual standard. The most positive thing that can be said from a Hills’ perspective is that it is still possible to qualify for the semi-finals if the last three games are won. On Saturday next, The Hills play Railway Union at Park Avenue, and until then, it is onwards and upwards.
PS: . With the continuing debate about “teas” being provided between innings, it is appropriate to thank Pembroke CC for its hospitality when it fed players, officials, and guests. There is also appreciation for the External Catering Section of The Hills CC which provided supplementary catering for the visiting supporters.