Yet another close finish, the 4th in 5 games, gave Ireland a victory and equalled the number of wins for each side in this series of games at 5 each. The game bore a striking similarity to that of 1873. In that year IZ required 21 to win with 4 wickets in hand on the 3rd day. They got only 9 and were beaten by 11 runs. This year IZ needed 31 to win with 5 wickets in hand. These added only 7 runs, chiefly due to a hat trick by TH Hanna in his first over of the day. Hanna was a fast underhand bowler from Ulster CC and was making his debut. He and Neill bowled splendidly throughout the game "but it is always the batsmen who are lauded to the skies despite the hard work of bowlers - we hope it will not be so in this case" (so says a contemporary account). Of those whose finale this was GF Barry had played in 21 games since 1858; FG Kempster had scored Ireland's first century in representative games in 1876 and DN Neill had been successful in every game he played. Both Kempster and Neill had played only 4 games for Ireland - all against I Zingari from 1874 to 1877. Kempster scored 195 runs at an average of 27.85 while Neill took 41 wickets for 443 runs at an average of 10.80. Neill bowled in 8 innings and took 5 or more wickets in six of these.
Of the IZ team, 6 had played in 1876 (Middleton, Higgins, Hadow, Colthurst, Macan and de Broke) the latter two playing in their last of five games; one (Maitland) had played in 1868; two (E Lubbock and C Marriott) had played in 1875 and 2 were newcomers, AW Ridley and CK Francis. Ridley had made a century for Eton v harrow in 1871 and had gained a blue at Oxford in 1872. In 1875 he captained Oxford when they beat Cambridge by 6 runs. He was an all rounder, his bowling being slow underarm. CK Francis was a fast round arm bowler who never quite lived up to his reputation. In 1866, when only 18, he took 17 wickets for Rugby v Marlborough, including all 10 in the second innings. In 1870 he took 12 wickets for Oxford v Cambridge. This was "Cobden's Match" and Cambridge won by 2 runs. In 1872 he went to Canada with RA Fitzgerald's team.
The Duke of Marlborough was now Viceroy of Ireland and he was not so keen on cricket. However, he attended the match, which was organised by, and played at, Phoenix CC.
Owing to rain there was no play on the first day and it was agreed to add a 4th day. The game was due to begin at 11.00 on the 2nd day but in fact did not start until 11.45. Barry won the toss and W Hone Jnr. and Trotter began to Ridley and Francis. The wicket was slow and heavy but Trotter was bowled by Francis for 3 at 10. Alexander, no. 3, was caught at slip, also off Francis, for 5 at 18. L Hone joined his cousin and there followed a stand of 67 - by far the best of the match. Runs came at a fast pace and Hadow replaced Ridley. Francis seemed to catch W Hone Jnr. close to the ground when he was 14 but both Umpires said "no". W.Hone celebrated by hitting Francis to leg for 6. Middleton replaced Francis but at 80 Ridley and Francis resumed and bowled for the remainder of the innings. At 85 Ridley bowled W Hone Jnr. for a good 26. Kempster was caught in the long field off Francis at 92. Barry came in and lunch was taken at 92 for 4. In fact the last 8 wickets fell for 80 runs and only W and L Hone reached double figures. L Hone scored a magnificent 74 not out made without giving a chance and containing four 4's and five 3's.
Shortly before 4.00 IZ began with Colthurst and Marriott to Neill and Hanna. Colthurst gave L Hone a chance at the wicket which was not taken, but at 27 he was bowled for 11 by a shooter from Neill. Hadow came in and showed his usual excellent form. At 37 Hanna bowled Marriott for a careful 18 - he had been lucky to escape being run out when taking his first run. Ridley was next but at 53 Hanna bowled him for 4 to the consternation of IZ who knew his capabilities as a batsman. Francis joined Hadow and the 4th wicket added 21 then Hamilton, who had relieved Neill, bowled Francis off his pads. Hanna caught and bowled Hadow for 31 at 80. Neill returned and the last 5 wickets all fell to him while only 19 runs were added. So IZ were all out for 99 and were 36 behind Ireland. Hamilton's catch to dismiss Lubbock off Neill was a remarkable one-handed affair close to the ground off a hard hit. The same Hamilton bowled 18 overs for only 5 runs (14 maidens) in the innings. Neill with 6 for 47 was the best bowler - as was his wont.
At 6 25 in bad light and much against their will Ireland were forced to go in again. T Hone and Neill were sent in as "nightwatchmen". Six balls were bowled and off the last T Hone was bowled by Ridley for 1. A newspaper comment of the time said "it would have been much pleasanter for the sides to have waited until the next morning before commencing the 2nd innings!" The Phoenix Committee headed by JT Hunford (Secretary) and Capt. Isacke (Treasurer) regaled the numerous visitors with afternoon tea and cakes.
The 3rd morning was very wet when Neill and Alexander started. At 7 Francis bowled the former and Trotter came in. While the score was being brought up to 28 there were no cessations for rain and IZ were very unwilling to proceed further with the game. A last effort was made and there was no further break. Lubbock (fast left arm underhand) replaced Francis and at 32 Trotter was bowled by him for 11. Lubbock bowled L Hone (4) off his toe at 36. W Hone Jnr. was in now and scoring was very slow. In an hour the score advanced from 28 to 52. Ridley and Lubbock were very accurate but eventually Francis came back on in place of Lubbock who had taken 2 for 13 in 12 overs. Francis caught and bowled W Hone at 52 and the last 5 wickets fell between 62 and 72. Alexander was caught and bowled by Ridley at 62 - an extraordinary innings of 28 which occupied no less than 2 hours. However it proved to be a match winning innings.
IZ went in seeking 109 and from the start there was great excitement over every run, wicket and piece of good fielding. Colthurst and Marriott opened to Neill and Hanna. At 10 Hamilton replaced Hanna. As in the first innings of IZ the opening pair put on 27 when Colthurst was caught off Neill for 9. Hadow had made only 4 when he was caught off Hamilton - an event greeted with great cheers. Having made 10 Marriott was bowled by Hamilton, then Ridley and Francis ran the score up to 60 and the balance was beginning to tilt in favour of IZ. The Francis was smartly caught at the wicket off Neill for 16. Macan was next. Meanwhile Walshe had bowled in place of Hamilton but as he made no impression Hanna returned. At once he bowled Ridley for 19 with a fast one. Macan (4) and Lubbock (2) played out time at 78 for 5. The Irish bowling and fielding was very good and special mention should be made of L Hone (wicket-keeper) and Alexander (long stop).
On the 4th day in poor weather conditions the last 5 wickets fell for 7 runs (3 byes, 1 leg bye, 2 to Maitland and 1 to Lubbock). In all 8.1 overs were bowled by Neill and Hanna and the latter conceded only 1 run in his 4 overs. The crowd, despite the state of the game, was not big. The Horse Show was a distraction. At 11 45 Neill bowled the first over to Lubbock which was a maiden. Macan stopped Hanna's first ball, but the 2nd, which was a "shooter" bowled him. Lord de Broke was yorked by the 3rd ball and Higgins bowled by the 4th. A wave of cheering greeted the hat-trick. Middleton was in next. Neill bowled to Lubbock and he got a single. Middleton then gave L Hone an unaccepted catch at the wicket and a leg bye was run off the next ball. In Hanna's 2nd over there were 3 byes. Neill, in his 3rd over, got Middleton who hoisted one to short leg which wicket-keeper Hone rushed at and secured. 83-9. WF Maitland was no. 11. Hanna's 3rd over was a maiden bowled at Lubbock. And in Neill's next over both Maitland and Lubbock got singles. In Hanna's 4th over Maitland got a single and was bowled by the first ball of Neill's 5th over. Caps were thrown sky high and a scene of great excitement prevailed. Hanna had bowled 20 overs and taken 4 for 12 while Neill in 41.1 overs had 4 for 41.
In the 1877 season as a whole Hanna had taken 124 wickets (including no less than 118 bowled and 2 hat tricks) at 6.7 runs each while Neill took 110 wickets at 8.2 runs each.
After the Irish game the ViceRegal XVI beat IZ by 18 runs. AF Exham (12 for 70) and JH Nunn (8-74) both bowled very well for Vice Regal and both were destined to play for Ireland in 1878.