Both of these teams had contrasting fortunes in the opening series of matches, with Malahide coming out on top in a close game against Phoenix, and The Hills losing an equally close game against North County. The Hills won the toss and as is its custom, opted to field first.
The wisdom of this decision was borne out by the fall of a wicket (Hackney) in the first over and Muntha in the second over, with the wickets being taken by Dylan Blignaut and Tomás Rooney-Murphy respectively. Adam Doyle and Matthew Ford set about repairing the damage and compiled a stand of 34 runs which ended with the fall of Doyle’s wicket which was taken by Ashley Bain. Any hopes that Malahide had of a recovery were shattered by a superb spell of bowling by Matthew Weldon and Dylan Blignaut which resulted in the taking of 4 wickets for 3 runs. From that point onwards, it was attritional stuff with the batsmen seeking to eke out whatever runs they could. Fintan McAlllister top-scored for Malahide with 24 runs, and there were only two other batsmen (Muntha, 11 and Doyle 17) in double figures.
The Hills’ bowlers had a field day, with Matthew Weldon continuing to impress with 3 wickets for 18 runs in 5 overs; Dylan Blignaut took 3 wickets for 25 runs in 8.1 overs, and the other wickets were taken by Ashley Bain (2 for 14), Tomás Rooney-Murphy (1 for 17) and Levon Shields (1 for 6). Mark Donegan was in superb form behind the stumps and took 4 catches, while Cormac McLoughlin-Gavin took 2 catches.
With the Malahide innings finishing early, The Hills’ batsmen had to negotiate a potentially tricky period before tea. Cormac McLouglin-Gavin started like a man on a mission; he faced three balls, and his figures were 4, 6, and out. Despite the early departure, Cormac’s onslaught set the tone, and it was apparent that The Hills’ batsmen had decided to chase down the score as quickly as possible. Levon Shiels was slightly more circumspect, but then lost patience, and was dismissed on the last ball before tea when the score was 44 runs.
Catering continues to be a topical issue in Leinster Cricket circles, and The Hills’ Catering Department excelled itself as usual. The two teams, officials and guests were treated to wonderful hospitality with pride of place being given to lovely sandwiches, meringues, apple slices, scones, and cheesecake. To continue in catering mode, Barry and Sandra are providing a tremendous supplementary service so it can be recorded without fear of contradiction that no one will ever die of hunger or thirst at The Vineyard.
Suitably refreshed, it was back to the cricket, and the patrons at The Vineyard had the opportunity to savour the batting of Murray Commins, the recent recipient of a contract from Cricket Ireland. He batted beautifully for 53* and played some magnificent shots all round the wicket. The only other wicket to fall was that of Mark Donegan when the score was 73; Murray and Dylan Blignaut then knocked off the required runs, and the game ended in the 19th over.
This was a very comprehensive victory for The Hills, with all aspects of its game in excellent working order. There will be sterner struggles ahead, with the first of these coming on Saturday, 7 May when The Hills travel to Sydney Parade to cross swords with Pembroke and its galaxy of international stars. Until then, its onwards and upwards.