Mooney and Armstrong stand and deliver
Cricket/Leinster Senior Cup final: The first Leinster Senior Cup final to be played at Malahide in 20 years turned out to be a truly memorable match on Saturday as North County captured the trophy (sponsored by Conqueror) for the first time, defeating Clontarf by 49 runs. Karl Johnston reports.
This game had everything - fine weather, a large and noisy attendance, and some notable individual performances in a contest of see-sawing fortunes.
The lowest team total in this competition was scored back in 1966, when Malahide were all out for 65 against Old Belvedere. On Saturday, at one stage Clontarf looked like breaking that unenviable record, when they had lost their first five batsman - Bill Coghlan, Ronan O'Reilly, Patrick Gada, Thinnus Fourie and Iain Synnott - for just 21 runs off 11 overs, chasing North County's score of 220 for six wickets.
Alex Cusack and Keith Spelman, batting at numbers eight and nine for 46 and 48 respectively, saved Clontarf from that particular ignominy, as earlier Greg Molins with 18 and Paul Ryan 15 were the only other Clontarf batsmen to reach double figures. But these brave efforts were not enough to deprive North County of a thoroughly deserved victory.
Spelman hit his 48 of 65 balls, including four boundaries, while Cusack's steady 46 came off 46 deliveries, with three fours.
Having won the toss, Clontarf's decision to put North County in to bat was hard to fathom. Yet the start was encouraging, as Fourie clean bowled Sean O'Connor in the first over, trapped Andre Botha leg before in the third, before Spelman removed Conor Armstrong and John Mooney to leave North County teetering on 50 for 4 after 22 overs.
Enter Paul Mooney and Dara Armstrong, whose stand of 153 runs for the fifth wicket was the match winner. Mooney's 68 was scored off 111 deliveries and included seven boundaries, while Armstrong's 50 came off 121 balls with five fours; meanwhile 'Tarf's generous contribution of 56 extras (a total which included no fewer than 27 wides) did no harm to the North County cause.
North County's bowling was excellent, as Mooney headed the attack with 3 for 13, while Botha and Dwayne Harper (who dismissed both Cusack and Spelman to end Clontarf's fight-back) picked up a brace apiece. Alan Lewis, Ireland's most-capped cricketer, was the man of the match judge and it was hardly a surprise he gave the award to Mooney, whose contribution with bat and ball were crucial in a famous victory.
C Armstrong c & b Spelman 19
S O'Connor b Fourie 0
A Botha lbw b Fourire 14
J Mooney c Maybury b Spelman 7
P Mooney b Cusack 68
D Armstrong not out 50
T Richardson run out 1
D Harper not out 5
Extras (B1, LB23, NB5, W 27) 56
Total 6 wickets (60 overs) 220
Did not bat: P Martin, S Grobler, J Murphy.
Fall of wickets: 1/1; 2/17; 3/49; 4/50; 5/203; 6/205.
Bowling: T Fourie 12-2-29-2; C D'Arcy 10-1-55-0; A Cusack 12-5-27-1; K Spelman 12-3-39-2; G Molins 12-3-37-0; P Gada 2-0-19-0.
B Coghlan lbw b Botha 7
R O'Reilly lbw b Botha 2
P Gada b P Mooney 0
T Fourie c D Armstrong b P Mooney 1
I Synnott c Botha b P Mooney 8
G Molins c D Armstrong b Grobler 18
P Ryan run out 15
A Cusack c D Armstrong b Harper 46
K Spelman c D Armstrong b Harper 48
R Maybury run out 7
C D'Arcy not out 0
Extras (B4, LB4, NB5, W6) 19
Total all out (53.1 overs) 171
Fall of wickets: 1/8; 2/9; 4/11; 5/21; 6/52; 7/72; 8/159; 9/171; 10/171.
Bowling: P Mooney 6-3-13-3; A Botha 9-1-22-2; J Mooney 5-1-19-0; S Grobler 11-0-31-1; C Armstrong 8-0-28-0; J Murphy 8-0-25-0; D Harper 6.1-0-24-2.
North county won by 49 runs.
Man of the match: Paul Mooney (North County).
Umpires: G Lyons, E Gilmour.