The Hills made Castle Avenue a home from home yet again in the final of the RSA Irish Senior Cup as they beat Clontarf by nine runs to claim their second Bob Kerr Irish Senior Cup and end 'Tarf's hopes of a hat-trick of trophies this summer.
Again it was their experienced bowling attack that helped them defend a low total of 239 after they had been put in to bat. Man-of-the-match Cormac McLoughlin's 75 and his partnership of 106 with Mike Baumgart (62) put the Skerries side in a strong position to push on towards 300, but the Clontarf duo of Zander van der Merwe (four for 30) and Joe Morrissey (two for 30) helped to restrict their opponents.
Ireland international Max Sorensen then struck with his third delivery to trap Mark Collier leg before for a duck and Colin Currie holed out after making seven before another key third-wicket stand.
This time it was between opener Bill Coghlan and Ireland international Andrew Poynter, two of the competition's most prolific run getters. The pair settled things down with a partnership of 77, but their departure within the space of four balls after both had scored 41 was a huge setback for the defending champions as they were reduced to 95 for four in the 28th over.
Skipper Eoghan Delany and Adrian D'Arcy set about rebuilding yet again and kept the match very much in the balance.
D’Arcy, a winner of an All-Ireland rugby medal with Clontarf RFC last season, departed just after making a fine half-century off 49 balls. The other worry was the return of The Hills’ opening bowlers for the final six overs, at which stage Clontarf needed 47 runs to win with five wickets in hand.
Delany was stumped by Nicolaas Pretorius off the bowling of Shoukat to become the third 'Tarf batsman to go for 41 and the 48th over saw Paul Ryan run out going for a second – a decision he bitterly disputed as he claimed he was impeded by the bowler – and Morrissey also depart.
The equation was 20 runs off two overs with two wickets in hand for the home side and nine runs off the first five balls of Shoukat’s final over looked to have swung it back in ‘Tarf’s favour.
Shoukat turned it right back with his last delivery as he ended Azim Nazir’s stay and Sorensen wrapped it up with the second ball of the last over when Zander van der Merwe holed out to Tomás Murphy off Sorensen to signal a pitch invasion from the away supporters, celebrating a Hills side that has made Clontarf their home in this competition following their inaugural win here against Merrion two years’ ago.
RSA IRISH SENIOR CUP FINAL
(at Castle Avenue): Clontarf won the toss and fielded.
N Pretorius b Coghlan 34
P Byrne c Poynter b Van der Merwe 14
C McLoughlin b Van der Merwe 75
M Baumgart st Currie b Morrissey 62
M Sorensen b Ryan 15
J Andrews b Ryan 2
N Shoukat c Poynter b Ryan 8
T Murphy c&b Morrissey 12
M Kumar b Van der Merwe 0
M Dwyer c A D'Arcy b Van der Merwe 0
L Clinton not out 0
Extras (b1, lb6, w10) 17
Total (all out, 49.3 ovs) 239
Fall of wickets: 1-30, 2-59, 3-165, 4-207, 5-216, 6-218, 7-234, 8-236, 9-238.
Bowling: Z van der Merwe 10-0-30-4; J Morrissey 8.3-2-30-2; C D'Arcy 10-0-40-0; B Coghlan 8-0-50-1; P Ryan 8-1-54-3; A Poynter 5-0-28-0.
M Collier lbe b Sorensen 0
B Coghlan c sub (W Archer) b Dwyer 40
C Currie c Clinton b Shoukat 7
A Poynter c Pretorius b Murphy 41
E Delany st Pretorius b Shoukat 41
A D’Arcy c Baumgart b Kumar 51
J Morrissey c Baumgart b Sorensen 11
P Ryan run out 4
A Nazir c Dwyer s Shoukat 3
Z van der Merwe c Murphy b Sorensen 6
C D’Arcy not out 1
Extras (b3, lb6, w16) 25
Total (all out, 49.2 ovs) 230
Fall of wickets: 1-0, 2-18, 3-95, 4-95, 5-190, 6-208, 7-216, 8-220, 9-229.
Bowling: M Sorensen 9.2-1-50-3; N Shoukat 10-2-40-3; L Clinton 8-1-37-0; M Kumar 9-0-34-1; M Dwyer 7-0-37-1; T Murphy 6-1-23-1.
The Hills won by 9 runs.