County win battle of the Norths
David Holmes (News Letter)
For North Down and their captain Peter Shields the pursuit of what now has become the "Holy Grail" of the Irish Senior Cup continued at Balrothery against North County. For a team that has dominated the NCU for the last decade or so this is the one missing piece of silverware.
Once again a trip south of the border proved their undoing. This match was pretty much decided by the toss as Peter summed it up:
" I have won five out of six tosses this season but I would have swapped them all to win this one. The coin had barely landed when North County skipper John Mooney said we'll field. Simply a bad one to lose and on a damp pitch the ball was darting about early on in fact it was still moving around in the 49th over!"
Despite that the visitors seemed to have weathered the storm and were in a nice position to push ahead at 91 for 1 with a strong batting line up to follow. Spinner Adam Coughlan changed all that as first he got one to bite and bounce which Ryan Haire edged to Conor Armstrong as first slip and then pulled off a stunning one handed caught and bowled to get rid of Andrew Sutherland.
The imposing middle order of Ally Shields, Guyan Wijekoon and Peter Eakin could manage only 10 between them with conditions not suited to the free flowing batting style they would normally adapt and suddenly it was 111 for 6.
Now it was all about regrouping, which to be fair they did and the skipper found a willing ally in Marty Moreland as they added an unbroken 60 to push the total past 200. Moreland made 34 from 19 balls with 3 sixes and 2 fours.
By now the overhead conditions were improving and North County set about trying to pace the reply, 48 for 0 off 14 and it was not until the 26th over with the score on 95 that the breakthrough came, Conor Armstrong LBW to Marty Moreland.
On a drying pitch the slow bowlers were starting to get some assistance and when three quick wickets fell to leave County 146 for 5 perhaps North Down sensed the door was slightly open. Eddie Richardson slammed it firmly closed with an excellent 37 not out from 31 balls to win the game.
So what does this mean for the remainder of North Down's season? Well dare I say it they have never let an early exit from the Bob Kerr deflect them in the past and I suspect that this year will be no different, business as usual back in the NCU and a big week ahead.
In an all Dublin affair Terenure lost by 5 wickets to Instonians conquerors' in the last round YMCA.
The quarter-final draw throws up some intriguing prospects, if CIYMS get the better of The Hills it is back to Dublin to face YMCA, Donemana will travel to either Leinster or Railway Union, CSN are also on the road to the winners of Merrion or Clontarf. However the stand out appears to be Waringstown the holders with an immediate opportunity to retire NCU pride with a home game against North County.