With Saturday being a closed day for Premier League cricket, the second series of games in the IBI Corporate Finance League were played on Sunday. Fresh from last week’s comprehensive win over Malahide, The Hills welcomed Phoenix to The Vineyard; the home team won the toss and chose to bat first. An opening stand of 85 runs between Cormac McLoughlin-Gavin and Andrew Kavanagh (24) more than vindicated that decision. The second wicket partnership between Cormac and Dylan Blignaut (66) added 130 runs to the score, and a total somewhere in excess of 300 runs did not appear to be an unrealistic expectation. However, from the fall of the second wicket onwards, Phoenix began to take wickets on a regular basis, and The Hills ended on 291 for 7 wickets. Cormac McLoughlin-Gavin was the undoubted star for The Hills, and his score of 134 runs was just reward for a supremely dedicated cricketer.
Phoenix’s reply had a disastrous start with the first wicket falling to Dylan Blignaut when there was only 1 run on the board, and Dylan took the second wicket when only 18 runs had been scored. The third wicket was taken by Matthew Weldon when Phoenix had scored 45 runs, and six wickets had fallen before the 25 overs mark. At that stage, it appeared that The Hills would wrap up the game very quickly and that it was only going to be a formality to collect another 25 points. At that stage, the lower-order Phoenix batsmen decided that attack was the best form of defence, and the fight back caused some anxiety among the home supporters. Oliver Hald’s wicket was the seventh one to fall, and this was due to a brilliant catch by Dylan Blignaut off the bowling of Athar Farooqi. An eighty-one-run partnership between Theo Dempsey (19) and Conor Shiel (58) brough the Phoenix score up to 214, and a number of rain delays added to the general tension. After the final stoppage for rain, The Hills’ bowing attack of Weldon, Tomás Rooney-Murphy and Levon Shields showed commendable composure, and the last two Phoenix wickets were taken for 6 runs to leave The Hills with a victory margin of 67 runs.
Levon Shields was the most successful bowler for The Hills; he took 3 wickets for 39 runs and capped off his performance with a superb catch at mid-wicket. Athar Farooqi continues to impress, and his 2 wickets for 29 runs included a caught and bowled. The ever-reliable Dylan Blignaut took 2 wickets for 55 runs, and the other wickets were taken by Matthew Weldon (1 for 51) and Tomás Rooney-Murphy (1 for 18). Mark Donegan is in a superb vein of form behind the stumps; he did not concede a single bye, and he had one catch and one stumping.
With two successive wins, The Hills have had a wonderful start to its league campaign, and the team has a two games next weekend. On Saturday, Pembroke, the winners of the Sports Hub League Cup will be the visitors to The Vineyard, and Cork County will provide the opposition in the second-round tie in the Irish Senior Cup on Sunday. Until then, it is onwards and upwards.