Merrion captain John Anderson praised his Australian compatriot and club professional, Greg Clarence, after his man of the match performance in their Bob Kerr Irish Cup Senior Cup final victory over Railway Union.
Clarence hit an undefeated 80 and former Ireland international Dom Joyce matched him boundary for boundary as Merrion stunned the favourites with a unbeaten second wicket-stand of 163, off just 149 balls, to win their first Irish cup final in superb style.
“Greg has been exceptional this year and his attitude has passed on to the rest of us and while Dom hasn't had the best of years he was due today, he came to the party in the big match and that's what a big player does,” said Anderson.
The winning skipper admitted it helped his side that they knew they would not have to match Railway's imposing total of 317 for three to win the cup.
With the game at Balrothery delayed by 90 minutes at the start and another hold-up, because of rain, between innings, Anderson knew Merrion wouldn't have to bat the 50 overs as there was a cut-off time for the day's play of 6.40pm.
The rules for the final stated that if 20 overs of the side batting second were not completed the game would continue on Sunday but if there were more bowled, the Duckworth Lewis par score would determine the result.
“At teatime, we worked out if there were no more interruptions we would have to face 25 overs so we wanted 150 (In the end, they faced 26 overs and with only one wicket down needed only 129).
“When you looked at the good wicket and the small ground, at the break we said we had nothing to lose. If we go out and play our shots we knew six an over was possible. They had two good bowlers up front but we knew we could target the other bowlers,” added Anderson.
Merrion's bonus was taking 30 runs off Kevin O'Brien's first three overs and although Trent Johnston bowled his 10 overs for 28 runs, the boundaries continued to flow at the other end, Clarence, who received his award from adjudicator and National Coach Phil Simmons, finishing with 12 fours and a six and Joyce hitting 14 fours in his 72 off 79 balls.
Richard Keaveney, who has a possible stress fracture of his back, had to sit out the final but while he missed out on a winners' medal he was not on the receiving end of the 75 balls onslaught by Railway's Ireland internationals.
O'Brien hit 76 off 56 balls with three fours and five sixes but he was pedestrian at the other end to Johnston who finished on 71 off just 38 balls with six fours and four sixes.
Their unbeaten stand of 141appeared to put the 2006 winners out of sight but Merrion remained focused to the end.
As Anderson said: “We've said throughout the year we wanted to win this cup and every Merrion player believed today we could win this match.”