There were lots of interesting second round ties in the Bob Kerr Irish Senior Cup in Leinster on Saturday. I chose the match in the Park between Phoenix and Glendermott as being the most likely to produce a tight contest. I was right but, as we'll see, there were lots of squeaky pants moments in the other matches.

The men from the Rectory brought plenty of vocal support, won the toss, and stuck Phoenix in. Gary Neely's first ball pitched outside off, Rory Flanagan shouldered arms and lost his off stump. Pro Ben Larkin was beaten all ends up by Neely in the third over, and makeshift opener Jonty Wardell was bowled neck and crop in the fifth.

Phoenix 8-3 and Neely already on a Colombia. Conor Kelly and David Langford Smith know only one way to bat - positively. The mandatory Power Play ended on 25-3, but as Polly and Lanky went for their shots in the immediately taken bowling Power Play the scoreboard began to move more quickly.

Kelly reached his fifty out of 100 just before drinks and was dropped on that score by Simon Killen off the unfortunate Rodney Pearson, who was putting in an excellent spell from the river end. Straight after drinks Kelly missed a straight one from Pearson (that's all I can tell you - I was in the loo!) to be out for 53 out of 109.

Masud Ahmed dug in as Pearson finished a fine spell of 10-4-23-1. Then Lanky punished the Glendermott change bowling with meaty drives and pulls as David Barr, Hancke von Rauenstein, Stephen Smyth, Craig Averil and Gordon Montgomery went to all parts. Averil did pick up Masud Ahmed for 18, Simon Killen atoning for his earlier drop (164-5).

Jamie Faulds then played a watching brief as Lanky sailed past 100, and Glendermott needed the returning Neely and Peter Gibson to put the brakes on. Faulds was run out for 7, and on the same score, 218, Langford Smith was bowled by Neely for 125.

Steven Neill (11*) marshalled two dozen more runs from the tail, while Neely progressed from Guildford through Michelle to Birmingham with more straight deliveries. He finished with 10-2-33-6, an outstanding effort, while Peter Gibson's contribution of 10-3-33-0 should not be overlooked.

Frank Flanagan and his team put on a splendid salad tea before the Waterside men started their pursuit of 242. Averil was bowled by DLS for 4, and he continued his hostile spell by having Robinson so plumb lbw that Nigel Parnell could have given it from square leg. As it was, he didn't get the chance because Clive Colleran's finger was airborne in a trice.

That was 19-2, but David Barr and pro von Rauenstein settled down and saw off Lanky and left-armer Chris Cavanagh. They had taken the score slowly to 75 when Flanagan nipped one through Barr's defence to dismiss him for 35.

Smyth immediately began to pick up the pace. Flanagan dropped him in the deep on 43, and he went to his fifty in the same over with a straight six. The pair had kept the required rate just below a run a ball with plenty of quick singles in between the odd boundary, but von Rauenstein was unluckily run out backing up for 55.

After a moment's confusion, the South African settled any arguments by walking off with Glendermott still 73 short. Smyth lost his momentum but Gordon Montgomery came to his side's rescue with a quickfire 36 out of 45 before being bowled by Kelly. Two runs later Flanagan produced a rat to bowl Smyth for 72.

I was sitting next to the groundsman at the time, and he just gave a wry smile. The smile disappeared as Ryan Barr and Simon Killen took Glendermott to within five runs of victory, but reappeared when another Flanagan rat accounted for Killen, lbw for 3.

The 50th over, bowled by Kelly, needed four for an away victory, three wickets for a home win. The first ball was a dot. The second was lobbed to Larkin at mid off who not only dropped it but conceded a run. The third was struck to deep mid wicket where Flanagan couldn't hold on to the catch, but conceded only one run. The fourth ball was a dot.

One run would now suffice for Glendermott to win on fewer wickets. Phoenix needed two dot balls. Jonty Wardell, standing up over the stumps, made a hash of Kelly's delivery which beat the bat outside off stump, and the ball rolled for four byes. Nothing should be taken away from Glendermott's win, but the Phoenix out-cricket, when it really mattered, was found wanting.

I packed up my gear and made my way south of the river. As I neared Rathmines I received a text from Geraldine Banks, former Pembroke and Ireland scorer. I pulled into Leinster to read of Pembroke's terrific win over North Down, and decided to wet my whistle.

I fell into bad company and had a second pint. Then I received news of the third round draw. There followed more pints and a telephonic request to the wife to come and pour me home as the stories of the other matches were revealed.

But back to Oakhill C.C., emergency venue for the Pembroke v North Down tie. I haven't yet got a full scorecard, but I do know that thanks to Theo Lawson (64) and Andrew Balbirnie (41), the 'Broke posted 181, although they used only 46 overs. They then reduced North Down to 115-8 off 32 overs, Barry McCarthy taking 4-38 and Balbirnie 4-23. However, Sutherland (78) in tandem with 10 and J, got the Comber side to a deficit of only 8 runs before the last wicket fell.

Another unexpectedly close tie was at Park Avenue, where Rush totalled a modest 161 courtesy of the in-form Saadat Gull (57) and Dan van Zyl (50). Graham McDonnell's dibbley-dobbleys did the job for the Wheeltappers, with 5-22, plus Druv Kapoor's alleged off breaks with 3-8. The Shunters kept being backed into sidings by the Russians, especially Tipu Gull (4/23), and needed 25 from Paddy Conliffe and 30* from Druv Kapoor to see them home by two wickets.

The Village People travelled through the Wee North and back into the Free State to play St. Johnston at the Boathole. They subsided to 136-7 (Reece McDonald 30), when a vital partnership of 59 between opener Fintan McAllister and Glenda Kirwan helped them to 203-9 (Finto 82*). That was more than enough for the home team, despite opener Andrew Fleming carrying his bat for 61 and late contributions from Goud (34) and Latsley (18). McDonald (4/11) blew away the tail as St. Johnston were all out for 169.

There were easy victories for Leinster and North County at home and The Hills, Merrion and YMCA in the UK. At Rathmines Terenure could total only 170-9, one of the talented young Nicols (Darren or Doug) scoring 43 and the not-so-young Roxy Morgan 33. Carlos Brathwaite took 3/39 and Hugh McDonnell 2/18. After Jonesey had whacked a half-tracker to point, Brathwaite (81*) and Anton Scholtz (39*) saw the holders into the third round.

A depleted North County were still too strong at the Inch for Eglinton. Christie (31) top-scored for the Co. Derry unit as they struggled to 137 all out in the 36th over. Boyland took 3/35 and Conor Shiel 3/20. County knocked off the runs in 22 overs for the loss of two early wickets, Richie Lawrence unbeaten on 53 and Mossie Shiel on 44*.

On the north shore of Belfast Lough, The Hills bowled Carrickfergus out for 168 in 42 overs, resistance coming from Ryan Eagleson (61*). Nazeer took 3/47, Mal Byrne 3/35 and Albert van der Merwe a parsimonious 2/15 off 10. Van the man then hit 81* as The Hills cruised home in 37 overs in the company of Mike Baumgart (40*) after the loss of Jeremy Bray (30).

In Strabane the home team must have been pleased to see the back of two Joyces, Gus and Dom, but pro Greg Clarence (103) and former Railway pro Johnny Anderson (83) scored most of the total of 261-4, Phil Eaglestone returning 2/36. The Gillespie brothers (Mark 59, Peter 45) kept Merrion in the field until the 43rd over but, after the departure of the siblings, Strabane's 203 never threatened as Alex Chetkovich took 3/23.

Up the road at Magheramason there would have been plenty of chirp during YMCA's opening partnership of 122 between the silent partner, Reinhardt Strydom (54), and the noisier half, Alan Lewis (38). After the Rainy and Lewie show, the YMers faded away to a 50 over total of 214. Rainy then whipped out Bready's top order for single figures before Ian Young's half century boosted Bready to 98. Strydom took 5/25.

Old Belvedre, as expected, weren't in Waringstown's league as the NCU team ran up 275-2 off 50 overs, with centuries for Kyle McCallan (145*) and Wolf Hall (108). Syed Ali (82) and Sreekanth Sharma (32) put on 60 together, but Belvo could manage only 166 off 41.4 overs.

On Sunday, unexpectedly, Clontarf struggled to 219 off 45.3 overs thanks to 45 from Adrian D'Arcy and 63 from Joe Morrissey, Dunn taking 3/33 and Knox 3/35. Coleraine lost two early wickets, but then used three balls short of their full allocation of overs to get home for the loss of four wickets, Chopra scoring 79 and Salman 85*.

So there are eight LCU teams in the third round, with four each from the NCU and NWCA. Coleraine will host Instonians, Merrion will entertain CIYMS, The Hills will travel to wherever Pembroke can play the match, Railway Union will welcome near neighbours YMCA, Leinster will travel to Ballymagorry to play Fox Lodge while Civil Service North will be at the Rectory to play Glendermott, all ties scheduled for Saturday June 12th.


Cheers,

Stu.