This was the first American Tour. Nat Hone selected the team, all of whom were members of the Phoenix Club. It was a good team, all of whom, with 2 exceptions, had played for Ireland in 1879. The two were Colthurst, whose only appearances for Ireland were those on this trip, and Miller, who last played for Ireland in 1874. AJ Fleming would have improved the team's batting, JAC Penny and TH Hanna would have been welcome as bowlers, and L Hone as a batsman wicket-keeper but, apart from those, it was the best XI available.
Two barristers, working in New York, organised the American arrangements. These were Martyn and Moeran (who was probably the same Moeran who had played for Ireland in 1869). The team left Kingsbridge with its 80 pieces of luggage on 31st August . A large crowd saw them off, including J Hunford, the Hon. Secretary of Phoenix, and Sir John Barrington, the Lord Mayor of Dublin. The Lord Mayor's brother, Charles Barrington accompanied the party as "business manager" (he probably just went for the trip) and also with the party were H Gore and T Turbett, both of whom played a few games when Brougham had to return home with 5 matches still to be played. Brougham joined the train at Mallow and in Cork Colthurst and W Hone Sen. with his bride were waiting.
This was W Hone Sen.'s honeymoon trip and he did not intend playing but was prevailed upon to turn out a few times. Mrs Hone's singing delighted the Americans. From Queenstown the team went by the Algeria to New York, playing the new game of poker on the way, and arrived on 9th September . On arrival Horace Hamilton learned of his brother's death in a massacre in the British Embassy in Cabul in India. With the team was Rylott, the Leicester professional whom it was decided on the voyage should not play but only umpire. His decisions in Philadelphia were taken exception to and the match v Young America CC had to be cancelled because the Americans said that "in a match among Gentlemen, Gentlemen must umpire". The team in all played 13 matches in America and Canada, winning 10 and drawing 2. The match under review was the 6th match of the tour (the first five had been won) and was the only match lost. Only this match and the immediately following one are regarded as Irish International matches, on account of the weakness of the opposition.
The Philadelphians were a strong team but had been surprisingly beaten by Canada earlier in the year. The Irishmen arrived with no time for practice before the match and had been used to soft wickets and back play in the deplorable summer of 1879 and also thus far on the tour. The wicket in Philadelphia was lightening fast and was too sudden a change for most of the team. JB Hone emerged at the top of the batting averages for the tour scoring 238 runs at an average of 19.83. Trotter, who made 105 in one match, scored 309 runs at an average of 18.17 and GD Casey was 3rd with 223 runs average 17.15. Hamilton and Exham were the only real bowlers, the former fast, the latter (a doctor by profession) slow medium. Between them they took most of the wickets and in the first innings of the second match of the tour v XVIII of Central New York, Hamilton took 10 wickets for 2 runs in 9.1 overs! In the same match Exham took 13 wickets for 24 runs. Later on, after the match v Toronto Cricket Association XV, Hamilton went to the Athletics Sports of the Toronto La Crosse Club and won the pole vault, placing on record the highest amateur jump - 10 feet 1 inch - ever made in Canada.
The Philadelphia team contained four of the Newhall brothers which family largely "made" cricket in that town. George was the captain and the best judge of a game or a player in America. Charley was a good fast right arm bowler who took 9 for 84 in this match. Don was the best all round player. Robert was the best batsman in America, having made 84 against the 1878 Australian team. The mother of the boys acted as scorer.
Fine weather continued right through the first day when nearly 5,000 people were present - "the state of excitement among the ladies being at times tremendous". A little after noon Trotter and N Hone faced EW Clarke and D Newhall. Clarke only bowled one over before C Newhall replaced him. In his 3rd over Trotter was caught at point. Colthurst came in but scoring was slow and C Newhall was in his 6th over before being scored off. Eventually Hone was bowled off his pads by D Newhall. 24-2-9. Hone had played defensively for an hour. With W Hone Jnr in C Newhall removed Colthurst's bails with a "trimmer" and with the score still at 24 Hone lost his off stump to D Newhall. Nunn scored one and was bowled by a shooter while a yorker accounted for J Hone. Now it was 26 for 6. Miller helped Brougham add 9 before C.Newhall "trimmed" Miller and next over D Newhall caused Brougham to play on. 35-8-7. Casey and Hamilton put a better face on things by hitting out - Casey got a 5 by means of an overthrow. Hamilton reached 10 and then hit over one from D Newhall after 20 had been added. Next over Exham was caught at deep slip and the innings was over. Casey was 9 not out and each of the Newhalls had got 5 wickets - D Newhall 5-18 in 23 overs. The innings lasted 2 hours.
After lunch F Brewster and J Hargraves opened for Philadelphia with Exham and Hamilton bowling. At 6 Hamilton ran out Brewster with a fine throw from mid off. J Large came in but at 9 Hargraves was stumped off Hamilton. R Newhall began very well with a 4, a 3, and a 2 all to square leg. At 35 Nunn was tried in place of Exham but to no avail. Eventually the bowlers changed ends and a "ripper" from Hamilton removed R Newhall's leg bail. He had scored 30 out of 45 in 40 minutes. With RN Caldwell in Large gave a stumping chance off Nunn that was missed. Then Exham came on for Hamilton and at once Large was caught at point off him by Nunn. Large had made 18 in an hour. 65 for 4. Three runs later Caldwell was stumped off Exham. JB Thayer joined D Newhall who was playing well but at 84 in attempting to take a second run Thayer was run out for 2. Clark came in and Hamilton came back on for Nunn. In his second over Hamilton had D Newhall caught behind the bowler by Trotter for 17 made in 30 minutes. 86-7. The captain G Newhall now arrived and the last 3 wickets added 63 ruins. Both players played well and 100 went up. Casey came on for Exham at 103. G Newhall hit him for 3 and then Casey beat Clark. 106-8-8. C Newhall joined his brother and they played out time, stumps being drawn at 5.00. The score was 115-8, with G Newhall 20 not out.
The superb weather continued on the second day and between 5,000 and 6,000 people saw the end of the match. Casey continued to bowl with Hamilton but the wicket did not fall until Exham replaced Casey at 125. At once G Newhall was finely caught at mid off by Nunn. His 28 was made in only 40 minutes. S Law came in at no. 11 and Hamilton produced 8 successive maiden overs. C Newhall hit Exham for 7 in one over and at 134 Nunn replaced him. The score still rattled up, including 4 byes which bumped over the wicket-keeper's head off the rock-like wicket. At 147 Miller was given his first bowl in place of Hamilton and Casey relieved Nunn. At 149 Law drove Miller and called but Newhall hesitated and was run out after making 13 in an hour. The innings closed at 12 45. Hamilton's 3 for 53 in 34 overs was a splendid sustained piece of bowling.
Half an hour later Ireland sent a new opening pair to the wicket, Colthurst and W Hone Jnr., with a deficit of 91. The Newhalls, C and D shared the bowling. The Irish start was no better than in the first innings because at 3 Colthurst was lbw for 1. After a few hits Nunn was bowled off his pads by D Newhall. 13-2-5. Hone hit a 2 off C Newhall and then played on with the score at 15. Brougham and Trotter took the score to 20 when Brougham was run out by D Newhall as he was about to bowl! The American Cricketer records this "without comment". Trotter, possibly stunned by this incident, was bowled by D Newhall's next ball. 20 for 5 became 26 for 6 just on the lunch interval when N Hone saw a swift ball from C Newhall spin back into his stumps after he had played it. An hour later (!) Casey accompanied Miller to the wicket and they made a stand, adding 24 in 30 minutes. Casey was run out - a frequent happening - at 50 in attempting a short run. One run later Miller was caught at mid off, his 17 being top score and was made in 45 minutes. J Hone and Hamilton added 17 for the 9th wicket, at one time defending for 7 successive maidens. D Newhall broke the stand by bowling Hamilton. Exham, at no. 11, began well and hit the fast bowler for 2 fours. Eventually it was C Newhall who bowled Exham for 11 to end the match, J Hone being left 15 not out. Again D Newhall conceded less runs than he bowled overs, taking 4 for 26 in 28 overs. Philadelphia fielded better but Brougham's wicket-keeping for Ireland was top rate. But the last word, so far as Ireland was concerned, was with the wicket which was ultra hard and bumpy.