This match was organised by Leinster CC through its Hon. Secretary, RD Barber and was the last match in which Ireland fielded a team of greater numbers than their opposition in a recognised representative game. This 1869 season was the only occasion on which two of the great English professional teams played Ireland as, indeed, it was the last season in which Ireland ever played against any of these XI's. These professional teams often came to Ireland in the 1870's and 1880's but their opponents henceforth were always club sides, Dublin University Past and Present, Leinster CC and North of Ireland CC. The United South of England XI had previously visited Ireland in 1865, the year of their foundation. That game was a draw and six of the XI were here again for this game. Willsher, their fast left arm bowler, took 8 for 34 in the earlier game but now he produced the fantastic figures of 21 wickets for 56 runs. Willsher was 41 years of age in 1869 and he and J Southerton (who was 42) shared all of the wickets which were taken by bowlers. Southerton, who was 5'4" and a slow round arm bowler is the oldest player to have made his debut in a test match. He achieved this disticntion by playing in the first Test Match ever at Melbourne in 1877 and he was then over 49 years of age. Other members of this XI who played in that famous Test Match were Jupp, who was captain, Charlwood and James Lillywhite Jnr. This Lillywhite was a fine bowler and he had taken 9 for 50 in the 1865 match but so well did Willsher and Southerton bowl that he failed to get an over in this present game. Of the Irish players, only Barry, the Captain, Hudson, the wicket-keeper, and Smith (Professional) played in the 1865 game. Indeed there were many refusals of invitations to play and neither the North nor the South of Ireland were represented in the XXII. Among those unable to play were AR Forde, EA Johnson, Capt. Morton, W Ashton, CR Filgate, EH Moeran, CE Stelfox, CR Rowley, Capt. Hamond, PF Casey and A Samuels. Samuels was a loss as there was a great need for a slow bowler. Ireland tried 8 bowlers in the game but there was a great sameness in their pace and method. The result of fielding a weak team was that no less than 7 of the XXII were playing in their one and only game for Ireland. Of these JS Russell from the North was one we could have done with more often.
Bailey's marquees and tents ringed the ground at Rathmines and there were many flags and banners. Unfortunately the visit clashed with the Regatta at Kingstown but even so the attendance was astonishingly good on all three days. The weather was fine throughout.
On the first day Ireland were dismissed for 83 and the XI replied with 68 for 6. The game began at 12.30 before a crowd of 2,000. GW Evans and R Jones began to the bowling of Willsher and Southerton. These two bowled unchanged, except for the lunch break, and Ireland were all out at 3.45. The best stand was that of 16 for the 1st wicket and of these Jones made 12 - the highest score. Three wickets fell at 21, Evans, Walrond and Harris rushing out at Southerton's slows before they had sighted the ball. The collapse continued and only FA Young, at No. 19, reached double figures. Willsher's bowling figures were extraordinary - 30 overs, 22 maidens, 13 runs and 11 wickets. He was not as fast as Tarrant or JC Shaw of the All England XI but was more difficult to play. 14 out of the 21 wickets were clean bowled. Southerton at the other end took 9 for 65 in 30 overs.
The Surrey players, Pooley and Jupp, began for the XI to the bowling of Harris and Smith (Professional). Both batsmen played with care but some splendid drives were also seen. 27 had been scored before Harris bowled Pooley for 11. Charlwood was at no. 3. The bowling was very good and runs were now coming in singles. Barry replaced Smith and 3 wickets fell in the 40's. At 44 Charlwood was caught at slip off Harris for 10 and one run later Lillywhite was out for 0. He was caught by Walrond at cover - a fine one handed catch at full stretch worthy of a Hone or a Barry. Walrond was a fine fielder and it was unfortunate that he and Harris, both Army men, were never able to play for Ireland again. Humphrey joined Jupp but at 47 Harris bowled the latter for 17. F Silcock was next and JH Smith relieved Harris who had had a fine spell. Smith's underhand bowled Humphrey (2) at 58 and Silcock (9) and Stephenson (9) played out time at 68 for 5. The Irish bowling and fielding had compensated for their earlier bad batting.
Play began at noon on the second day before another large crowd. Ireland did very well for a while and then lost their grip. At 71 JH Smith had Silcock out for 12 and Harris got J Hearne at 74 and G Griffith at 80. So the XI were 80 for 8 and still 3 runs behind. Southerton joined Stephenson and the 9th wicket added 27 while the last wicket Willsher and Stephenson added no less than 35 to bring the total up to 142. If slow bowling had been available these last two wickets would have fallen quickly. It was O'Mara who took the last two wickets but Harris with 5 for 42 in 42 overs had broken the back of the innings. McCann, the Leinster professional, had bowled 13 overs for 5 runs. The tall HH Stephenson made 42 not out, the only score of over 20 in the match, He was lucky and should have been run out and caught twice - one miss by wicket-keeper Judson being very bad.
Ireland began again with Dooner, no. 21 in the first innings, and S.Smythe. It seems strange that Jones and Evans were not allowed to open again. Ireland did a good deal better this time and by close of play were 76 for 8. Smythe got a 3 off Willsher but was then bowled by Southerton. 3-1-3. Barry came in at no. 3 and got a really excellent 20. At 24 he lost Dooner, who was badly run out through his own fault. Thomas hit a merry 11, making all the runs added for the 3rd wicket, before being stumped at 35. Willsher bowled Barry at 48, Jones and Evans were now together. At 50, Silcock, round arm medium, replaced Southerton and bowled 5 overs for 7 runs and then Southerton returned. This was the only change in the XI's bowling throughout the match. Jones got 9 in 3 3's before Willsher caught and bowled him while Evans played remarkably well for his 14. Harris O'Hara and Smith were also out before the close of play.
There was less than 2 hours play on the third day. A big crowd saw Ireland lose their remaining 12 wickets for 24 runs. In 45 minutes Willsher and Southerton took 10 wickets for 13 runs changing the scoreboard from 76-8 to 89-18. JH Smith was absent and never played for Ireland again. Once again Willsher and Southerton had magnificent figures, 10 for 43 and 9 for 44 respectively.
The XI needed 42 to win but the XXII determined to go down fighting. Lillywhite opened with Jupp and O'Mara and Harris shared the bowling. In O'Mara's 2nd over Lillywhite was bowled. 4-4-1. Harris only bowled 3 overs, Smith (Professional) one and then Barry took over. Meanwhile O'Mara in his 4th over bowled Jupp and Pooley with successive balls. 17 for 3. O'Mara bowled Humphrey at 28 while Barry bowled Hearne at 40. Hearne had come in at no. 3 and it was his 18 which won the match. Charlwood and Silcock were in when the winning run was hit. O'Mara with his fast round arm bowling had a fiery spell and took 4 for 17 in 16 overs. Had the target been about 80 and not a paltry 42 O'Mara might well have won a sensational victory for Ireland.
The professional XI subsequently played and drew with (very favourably) the Military of Ireland.