This was the first "Minor Match" played by Ireland and resulted in a great win by 6 runs over a strong Professional XI. The United All England XI was a splinter group formed in 1852 from Clarke's All England XI. Its leaders were Wisden, Dean and Grundy. John Wisden is best known as the founder of the Almanac but he was also one of the best all round players of his time. His batting in this match was said to have been one of the best ever seen is Ireland but it was as a bowler that he is more generally known. He bowled fast with a break-back but he was only 5 foot 4 inches tall. Jemmy Dean, like Wisden, was a Sussex fast medium bowler. Grundy was another all rounder who spent years at Lords. He was a fastish accurate bowler and in 1862 was lent to Ireland to play M.C.C at Lords. Also in the United XI was William Caffyn whose feat of taking 7 wickets for 1 run on the second innings has never been surpassed against Ireland since that day.
Caffyn was a Surrey All Rounder who lived to be 91. He was a splendid cutter and a round arm bowler. He went to Australia with Stephenson in 1861 and with Parr in 1863. John Lillywhite was the son of "Old John" the famous Sussex bowler. Not as good a bowler as his father he was, however, a splendid bat and headed the averages in 1856 with 24. Harry Wright was a batsman from Yorkshire and Billy Matlock from Surrey was a good bat. Tom Lockyer was the wicket keeper and a great one. He was the first to bother with leg side balls and his method revolutionised the art of wicket keeping. He went with Parr to Canada in 1859 and to Australia in 1863. William Martingell was another all rounder and an excellent coach and judge of the game. Also assisting the XI were the two amateurs Leigh and Hankey who had played in the previous game for the Gentlemen of England. Incidentally John Lilywhite's eyesight began to fail and he took to umpiring (?). He no balled Willsher in the Surrey v England match in 1862 which eventually led to overarm bowling being legalised in 1864.
Ireland contracted to play XVI against the United XI but due to confusion it was eventually XVIII that took the field. Even with the advantage of these odds it was a splendid feat to beat this professional XI. Only Johnston and Lawrence got more than 20 in either innings but as was usual in those days bowling won the match. McCormick (slow) and Lawrence (fast) bowled splendidly throughout. Set 62 to win these two bowlers got United XI out for 55, although it was said that the wicket was "poor". The Dublin Daily Express said "it was the best ever match played in Ireland". Ireland was well represented in the team and the most notable newcomers were Lieut. F Marshall, who afterwards became General Sir F Marshall and WJ Kempson who represented Cambridge in 1855 and got 45, the top score of his team in the Varsity game.
Ireland won the toss and McCormick and King opened against Wisden and Caffyn. Wisden with a shooter removed McCormick for 0. King got 19 and Kempson 11 before Johnston (22) and Coddington (17) had a long stand and "troubled the XI until Johnston, taking a liberty off Lilywhite, was, of course, stumped by the Surrey Pet". The innings closed at 4 30 pm. for 116, Wisden, bowling well into a strong wind, taking 7 for 32 in 39 Overs. United went in but they too suffered from the peculiarities of the Phoenix wicket and Wright, Lillywhite and Caffyn were out for 15. Lockyer (25) and Matlock (23) put on 49 for the 4th wicket. Grundy made 18 and Wisden top score with 29, which included a 7. McCormick got 6 for 48 in no less than 68 Overs. United led by 10 when Ireland went in for the second time on the afternoon of the 2nd day. By close of play they were 48-9. McCormick was caught and bowled by Caffyn for 0 and so bagged his second successive pair for Ireland. Lawrence made 22 and Coddington 12 and the innings was chiefly remarkable for the number of times the ball went into the air without going to hand. The wicket had become very "rough" and small scores were the order of the day.
The remaining 8 Irish wickets only added 7 runs on the 3rd morning. Caffyn added 3 more wickets to his overnight 4 and finished with 7 for 1 in 7 Overs. Wisden again took 7 wickets and had match figures of 14-57. Four run outs in the two innings and the absence of Capt Price in the second Innings did not help the Irish. 62 was not a large target but with the pitch now alarmingly bumpy the bowling very straight and 18 determined fielders it proved just too much for the United XI. Dean and Grundy opened (Dean had been No 11 in the first innings) and put on 16. McCormick then bowled Grundy and soon 6 wickets were down for 25 only Dean (11) reaching double figures (11). Wisden and Matlock stayed until lunch (35-6). This stand continued and looked likely to win the match when Johnston took a good catch at the wicket to dismiss Matlock for 6 at 47-7. Leigh followed but a good one handed catch by Coddington dismissed him for 1. Wisden, who had played beautifully for 18, got a shooter from Lawrence and was out at 53. Wright and Martingell were the last pair and 9 were needed. Excitement was intense and increased when Martingell rushed out at McCormick, missed and got back when Johnston (for once) dropped the ball. However, in the next over, Lawrence, incited by the offer of a suit of clothes from Lieut. F Marshall, delivered a trimmer and bowled Martingell. Cheers greeted the win and the Lord Lieutenant was delighted. McCormick and Lawrence bowled unchanged and shared the wicket. They were supported by splendid fielding.
One paper, while hailing the victory, made three suggestions for the future. First, the ground is not what it should be for a match of this nature. The real merit of great players cannot be brought out on a poor wicket. Secondly fielding is not improved by fielders having to scramble continually over a flexible wire fence running round the ground. Thirdly "we would venture to hint that a generous forbearance, and an avoidance, even of all appearance of a disposition to take small advantages, if possible, would greatly increase the pleasure of the match while going on, and enhance the value of a hard won victory".