Ian Callender and James Fitzgerald
Ian Callender of the News Letter reports from Castle Avenue
Kenny Carroll got his hands on the Irish Senior Cup last night but only after the closest final in the competition's 25-year history.
For the Railway Union captain, who transformed himself from an Ireland A hopeful into a World Cup finals pick in the space of four months, it was a fitting finale to an unforgettable season.
But he had to rely on his team-mates in a pulsating finale as No 11 James Rogan pulled his first ball to the fine leg boundary and finally end Rush's heroic comeback.
When Carroll and Niall O'Brien were adding 83 for the first wicket the Rush total of 207 on a slow pitch looked woefully inadequate. But the loss of five wickets in 33 balls for 27 runs turned a tepid contest into a clash worthy of Ireland's premier club knock-out competition.
The man that defied Rush for 21 overs, and ultimately won the match, was Adrian Murphy. The dynamic West Indian was out immediately after bringing up his 50, with his side just seven runs short of victory. But the last-gasp drama had only begun.
Gourav Singh, much to his disbelief, was given out caught behind second ball, and with the scores tied Gary Black played no stroke to Niall Mullen and was leg before. It was Rogan, the diminutive wicket-keeper, however, who was to break Rush's hearts and give Railway their first Irish Cup success.
Dan van Zyl, Rush's South African's off spinner, had ended the opening stand with a return catch off Carroll and in his next over forced Niall O'Brien into a false stroke and the Kent and Ireland wicket-keeper was palpably leg before.
When a third member of Ireland's World Cup squad was also trapped in front in the following over, Rush were back in the game. When Mullen then dismissed his namesake Conor and Mohammad Tariq with successive balls in his next over the men from Fingal were probably favourites.
With the scalps of North Down, Clontarf and last year's winners
But the strength of this Railway team is its depth and Murphy, first in partnership with Ross Wynne and then, decisively, Gary Black put the south Dubliners back on the winning course.
Brian O'Rourke, the Rush captain, tried every bowling combination but when Naseer Shoukat and Shahid Iqbal's overs ran out, the game was up for the side who can still win the Section A league title.
The Rush innings never got going until the last five overs. After winning the toss, O'Rourke and Fintan McAllister were so desperate to avoid losing wickets the runs became secondary. The first wicket stand of 55 used up 20 overs and the 50 runs for the fourth wicket took another 16.
It needed 63 from the last five overs to put Rush through the 200 barrier, former Glendermott professional Shahid Iqbal scoring 58 off 44 balls with four sixes and two fours, the last over by Kevin O'Brien disappearing for 23 as the Irish international conceded 37 off his last two.
It was no more than a competitive total but Rush's never-say-die spirit almost turned it into a winning one.
This though, thrillingly, was Railway's day.
|Rush Vs Railway Union|
|1-Innings Match Played At Castle Avenue, 01-Sep-2006, Irish Senior Cup|
|Railway Union Win by 1 wkts|
|Toss won by||Rush|
|Umpires||Trevor Magee (NCU) & Charlie McElwee (NW)|
|Rush 1st Innings 206/7 Closed (Overs 50)|
|B O'Rourke*||b M Tariq||19|
|F McAllister+||lbw||b G Singh||36|
|C Doyle||st J Rogan||b K Carroll||13|
|N Shoukat||c&||b G Singh||0|
|D van Zyl||c C Mullen||b M Tariq||36|
|S Iqbal||not out||58|
|M Donnelly||c J Rogan||b R Whelan||6|
|A Butterly||run out||11|
|N Mullen||not out||7|
|extras||(b0 lb8 w11 nb1)||20|
|TOTAL||7 wickets for||206|
|1-55(B O'Rourke) 2-59(F McAllister) 3-59(N Shoukat) 4-109(C Doyle) 5-130(D van Zyl)|
|6-141(M Donnelly) 7-161(A Butterly)|
|Railway Union 1st Innings 210/9 Closed (Overs 43.2)|
|K Carroll*||c&||b D van Zyl||36|
|N O'Brien||lbw||b D van Zyl||44|
|K O'Brien||lbw||b N Mullen||12|
|A Murphy||b N Shoukat||50|
|C Mullen||b N Mullen||3|
|M Tariq||lbw||b N Mullen||0|
|R Wynne||c F McAllister||b S Iqbal||9|
|G Black||lbw||b N Mullen||12|
|G Singh||c F McAllister||b N Shoukat||0|
|R Whelan||not out||4|
|J Rogan+||not out||4|
|extras||(b0 lb13 w20 nb3)||36|
|TOTAL||9 wickets for||210|
|1-83(K Carroll) 2-98(N O'Brien) 3-102(K O'Brien) 4-110(C Mullen) 5-110(M Tariq)|
|6-138(R Wynne) 7-200(A Murphy) 8-200(G Black) 9-206(G Singh)|
|D van Zyl||10||0||42||2|
James Fitzgerald (The Irish Times) at Castle Avenue
With pressure taking its toll, Railway Union scrambled to their first ever Irish Senior Cup victory in a thrilling one-wicket win over Rush yesterday. With the early autumn light fading fast, it was up to Railway's tail to hit the winnings runs through the murk and under the most trying of circumstances. And they rose to the occasion memorably.
Beaten in the 2003 and 2005 finals, the Railway faithful feared the worst when, having made an excellent start to their run chase, they crumbled in the middle-order. Kenny Carroll and Niall O'Brien put on 83 for the first wicket and everything was comfortable, needing only 207 for victory. But spinner Dan van Zyl made the breakthrough for Rush, removing Carroll caught and bowled for 36, and 83 for 1 soon became 110 for 5 as Railway collapsed. O'Brien was out lbw to van Zyl for 44, his brother Kevin went the same way to Niall Mullen shortly after while Conor Mullen, and Mohammed Tariq didn't last long either.
But at the other end, Murphy stood firm. He past 50 with an exquisite drive off the back foot for three and never really looked in trouble, save for a couple of good lbw shouts against him in the closing stages. He brought Railway to within seven runs of victory but just when they had the game in the bag for a second time, there was to be another big turning point. Needing just seven to win with plenty of time to do it, Murphy was out bowled by Naseer Shoukat and Gourav Singh departed almost as soon as he had arrived. Roger Whelan smacked a four over midwicket and there were a couple of singles to bring the scores level before Gary Black was lbw to Niall Mullen (4-32), bringing number 11 James Rogan to the middle.
As both sets of supporters struggled to contain their excitement, Rogan showed no nerves and duly flicked Mullen's next delivery to the fine leg boundary to complete a hard-fought win for his side.
It caps a wonderful season for the Park Avenue side. The Irish Senior Cup will now join the DGM League trophy and LHW 20/20 Cup in the Railway trophy cabinet, not to mention the WM League Section B title that is also going their way.
Earlier in the day, Railway had threatened to run away with the game. At one stage it looked like, batting first, Rush would be rolled over for around 170 or 180 but a wonderful knock by Shahid Iqbal at the death, gave Rush a psychological boost at the change over. Iqbal came to the crease with the score on 141 for 4 with only 13 overs left and strolled back to the pavilion, raising his bat, less than an hour later having hit 58 vital runs for his side (43 balls, two fours and four sixes).
By and large, however, Railway Union bowled and fielded very well. Whelan (1-30 off ten overs), backed up by Black, did very well to contain Rush openers Fintan McAllister and Brian O'Rourke at the start of the match. Gourav Singh also impressed when he came on, taking 2-22 in ten overs.
But this game will be remembered for the presence of Adrian Murphy in the middle of Railway's reply and the poise of James Rogan with the bat at the very end.