Last Saturday was all-Ireland cup day, with the top 32 clubs competing for the Bob Kerr Irish Senior Cup, and the next-ranked 32 doing battle for the first time for the Royal Sun Alliance National Cup. In the Bob Kerr, Leinster clubs fared pretty well, but the honours mainly went north in the RSA.
I was at Sydney Parade to witness the only defeat for a Leinster club in the first round proper of the Bob Kerr. Donemana asked Pembroke to set a score and must have been slightly worried at drinks when the home team stood at 89-0, Robin Kelly on 51*. But three quick wickets reduced Pembroke to 96-3 (Theo Lawson 32), the Donemana attack led by the McBrine twins got on top, and the 'Broke were always struggling thereafter. Only 34 from Barry McCarthy threatened to break the shackles, Paul Lawson made 22, Robin Russell 18, but 186 all out in the 50th over was unlikely to be enough. Junior McBrine took 4/26, Kamran Sajad 3/33 and James McBrine 2/35.
Donemana were 4/2, one each for Allan Eastwood and Bill Whaley, but skipper Richard Kee led the fight-back with an aggressive 41 before nicking Andy Leonard behind to make it 76-3. Immediately after drinks Junior McBrine wafted at Leonard but the catch was spilled. Son Andy now went on the offensive while father played straight. The ball was frequently airborne, but initially evaded the fielders. Then chances went down (I counted four) as Andy went to 76*, Junior to 49*, and Donemana to 187-3 in the 44th over.
Shock of the day was in Dublin 6W, where the ever-powerful Limavady were the visitors to Terenure, still without their pro (visa difficulties) and having to play too many sprogs. Ken Brennan, always a handful coming up the hill on the mat, went through the Roesiders' top order, one bowled, two caught behind and a screamer at slip by Andre Botha to get rid of Decker Curry for 260 less than he scored last time out in the 'Nure. There was a brief recovery from 29-4, but "Plates" Brennan took two more to finish with 6/17, Botha took 2/6 and Dan van Zyl 2/7 as Limavady were bowled out for 65 in the 25th over.
Andy Britton and "Aggie" Riddles took a wicket apiece to have Terenure at 3-2, then 32-3 when Ricky McDaid had Hogan lbw. But skipper Kenny McDonald made 25, van Zyl 14*, and Benn Hoey 10* to take Terenure to 67-4 in 16 overs and a famous victory.
The other turn-up for the books was at Shaw's Bridge in Belfast, where last year's finalists Instonians were well and truly beaten by YMCA. Rob Garth and Reinhardt Strydom removed three of the Inst top four for 37, whereupon off spinner Albert van der Merwe nicked out two more to make it 49-5. Eugene Moleon hung around with James Shannon for 29 more runs before falling to Yaqoob Ali, and Rushe for 34 more before giving a return catch to Sameer Dutt. Simmi Singh had Shannon caught for 62, and Dutt (3/35) finished off the tail to dismiss the home club for 147 in the 49th over.
While "Rainy" Strydom went for his shots, as ever, Delany removed Lee Cole, Shammy Ahmed and Simmi Singh. 42-3 became 70-4 when Strydom gave a return catch to Wiley (Wylie?), but by now national treasure Trent Johnston was motoring, and finished off the job with 66* in the company of van der Merwe (29*) in the 33rd over for an equally famous victory.
There was almost another shock at Creevedonnell (as if I knew where on earth that was!), where North County were the visitors. County's problems are well known: no pro; no Shiel brothers; no Richie Lawrence; Eddie Richardson unable to bowl at full throttle; Shane Getkate unable to bowl at all; no Antipodean who accidentally got off the train at Balbriggan and walked three miles down the road to Balrothery and who just happened to play a bit of cricket. The home team batted first, and in the face of tight bowling from Richardson (2/22), Adam Coughlan (2/32), find of the season so far Ian Bertram (2/32) and a bonus 2/17 from the gangly sprog Andrew Sheridan, reached 159 all out in 45.2 overs, N. Cooke top-scoring with 47*.
Opening bowlers Glenn and Gary Neely then grabbed a brace apiece to have County 4-4. At 5 and 6 were Ciaran Garry and John Mooney, who can bat a bit. They added 145 before Mini Garry was caught behind for 60, starting a little wobble, but John Boy's 78* saw County home by three wickets off the first ball of the 47th over.
There was another tight finish at Wallace Park, Lisburn, where the home team took first hit and struggled to 156 all out in 50 overs in the face of Leinster's tight and varied bowling (three seamers, three spinners, including two lefties and an over the wrist operator). There was a low point at 46-4, but Simpson (21) and Waller (42) provided the required resistance. Bajan pro Joel Leacock gunned a brace of bunnies to finish with 4/34.
Skipper Craig Mallon lasted three balls, but Hugh McDonnell (34) and Stephen Moreton (57) put Leinster in charge. Leacock was fourth out with the score on 102, Mark Jones quickly followed, and when Moreton departed 23 runs were still required with the overs running out. Pete Johnston (23*) scampered singles with JP O'Dwyer to see his team home with a ball to spare.
The third Leinster team to make heavy weather of their progress into the second round was The Hills, who won the toss against Bready and found themselves at 24-4, South African openers Daryll Calder and Klaas Pretorius each run out, Mike Baumgart and slipper Nazeer Shoukat each bowled. Max Sorensen and Mossie Murphy dug in and took the score into three figures. Then Murphy was out for 36, Mark Dwyer scored 24 of the next 38 before nicking off, and shortly afterwards Sorensen was stumped for 67 out of 157-7. Manu Kumar made 15*, but The Wilberries lower orders couldn't handle leg spinner Long, who took 4/17 as the innings closed on 183 in 43.3 overs.
Keeper David Rankin opened and charged at The Hills, but his 38 ball 32 was the only highlight of the Bready top order as they tottered to 65-5. Mark Olphert hung around with Young to take the total to Nelson. Sorensen (2/24) and Shoukat (3/29) returned to reduce the men from Maheramason to 144-8. Murphy dismissed Young for 56 on the same score, but ten and jack eked out 25 more runs before Murphy bowled Warnock for 16 in the 47th over with Bready 14 runs short.
It was easy-peasy at the Rectory on Derry's Waterside. For Glendermott only Silva, with 60, and Montgomery (22) lasted long against Railway Union's attack, which in truth does not punch much above bantamweight. After Saad Ullah removed their openers, the home team progressed to 87-2, but could only add another 54 runs as they were bowled out in 33 overs. Saad took 2/30, Kevin O'Brien 2/21, Greg Lambert 2/21, Mo Tariq 2/22 and Patrick Collins 2/2. Skipper Tom Fisher was caught off Silva for a duck, but Collins blazed 50 out of 114 before falling lbw. Kevin O'Brien (69*) and Conor Mullen (16*) got the Wheeltappers and Shunters early into the bar as they passed the oppo total in the 19th over.
At Castle Avenue it was easy-peasy after the Clontarf openers compiled an opening partnership of 165 against Cork Harlequins. Bill Coghlan's 58, followed by Watterson's 26, were supporting acts for a superb 154* from Robert Forrest as 'Tarf closed on 287-5. That was far too much for the Munstermen, who slid to 65-6 before O'Reilly (42) and O'Leary (34*) restored some pride. Harlequins were all out 153 in 42.4 overs, Watterson taking 2/27, Andrew Poynter 2/33 and Paul Ryan 2/23. At least Harelquins beat Railway in the hockey, which explains Kenny Carroll's absence from Derry.
At Eaton Park, Ballymena, Merrion's victory was built around skipper Johnny Anderson's unbeaten 67, which saw his team to a 50 over total of 191-7. There were several scores in the teens, but only Ben Ackland (24) passed twenty. McKinley tried to do the same anchor job for the home team, but after he was run out for 30, only Glass at number 9 made any impact (24*) as Ballymena were all out for 138 in the 37th over. Pick of the bowlers was Tyrone Kane with 4/15, while Damian Poder took 3/35.
The final Leinster club, Phoenix, will have to wait until the 27th and then travel to Stormont to play CSNI after the cancellation of the match in the Park because of an unfit pitch. Despite winning nine of their ten first round matches, Leinster clubs can provide no more than six of the quarter finalists, there being four all-Leinster second round matches.
There's a paucity of scorecards for the RSA National Cup matches involving Leinster clubs. Oakhill scratched last Wednesday, allowing Eglinton to progress to the second round. Rush beat Dundrum of Co. Down in a remote bowl-out 3-1 on Saturday morning. Mullingar were bowled out for 78 at home to Muckamore, Brett taking 4/9 and Allen 3/12. The visitors took 11.3 overs to knock off the runs for the loss of one wicket, Jason van der Merwe scoring 46*.
At Cabra, Old Belvedere continued their revival with an easy win over Killyclooney. They bowled the NW side out for 88, with F. Ullah credited with 6/12. I suspect that may be Fullah Yousafzai, a useful off spinner. Belvo took 23 overs to get home for the loss of three wickets. At The Maws, North Kildare had to watch Holywood pile up 303-7, Duddy making 110, McCormick 75 and Kerrigan 56. In reply, the Kilcock club could total only 205-9, Dalton making 43, with Slack taking 4/44.
The Cliftonville v Balbriggan tie was switched to Fingal, where uncle and nephew Albert and Dwayne Harper made a mess of Cliftonville's top order to reduce them to 36-4. Ivins battled for 74, but after he was eighth out on 140, the north Belfast team could reach only 170 in 48 overs. Albert took 2/20, Dwayne 2/34, Ali Qasim 2/20 and Paddy Martin 3/32. Barry Archer and Glenn Russell nearly did the business on their own, but Russell was lbw one short of his fifty, so Barry finished off the job with 100*, his second successive ton.
Two predictions I got massively wrong involved NW v Leinster ties. I didn't know there was a Newbuildings team, and I didn't think a second grade NW side ought to be able to trouble Malahide, even though the Village People are not the team that won the Bob Kerr within the last decade, and even though the game was being played in that graveyard of Leinster hopes, the Holm, Donemana.
Allen (28) and Wallace (75) put on 96 for the first wicket, when there was a little wobble to 115-3, and another from 154-3 to 172-6. Crisis? What crisis? McCausland whacked 48* and Ferguson 25* as Newbuildings closed on 263-7. Take out Jimmy Govan's 3/17 off ten, and there are some sorry bowling figures. Mehaffey produced two straight ones to remove Mark Ellison and Ryan Gallagher early doors, and thereafter only Jimmy Govan (27) and Andy Pyne (a late 54) got past twenty as Malahide were bowled out for 170 in 38.5 overs. Mehaffey took 2/24, Mitchell 2/30, Turner 3/51 and Allen 2/35.
My Dublin alma mater, Civil Service, travelled to Ardmore, in the shadow of Altnagelvin Hospital and home to the great John Hume. Service batted first, and Mudasser Hussain's 79 drove them to 131-3. Brother Mubasher Siddique was next out at 181 (I don't understand Islamic naming conventions), then Sachin Mistry nursed the tail to 280-8 and took his own score to 106*. For Ardmore Kulkarni took 4/78 and Gormley 2/50.
When the dangerous Adrian Murphy was lbw to Siddique, third out with the score on 59, it was all over. Ullah went through the middle order (3/32), Khan mopped up the tail (4/31), and Service had won by 141 runs.