After two matches against odds at Lawrence and at Concord, the Irish team came to Philadelphia for the first of the great matches of the tour. It was highly exciting and was won by the home team by 7 runs after Ireland had led on first innings by 41. Some facts firstly about the Philadelphia team. Only DS Newhall (the Captain) and Brewster had played in 1879 against the Irish tourists of that year. Morgan, Stoever, Brown and Lowry had played in Dublin in 1884 and Brockie had also been on that tour. Lowry, a slow left arm bowler, had wonderful success on the 1884 tour and was possibly the best slow bowler ever produced by America. In this match he did not bowl a great deal. Palmer, a fast bowler, and GS Patterson were new to International cricket. Patterson, not yet 20, had already a big reputation and he subsequently proved himself America's greatest batsman. All the team were native born Americans except Brockie whose parents came from England when he was an infant. For Ireland Meldon returned in place of Kennedy and Hynes maintained his great form with the bat. Dunn also did well while JP Fitzgerald and W Johnston were the best bowlers. Bromhead umpired in this match and was not satisfactory. Four of his decisions which went against Ireland were considered bad and the Philadelphians themselves were much annoyed. It was noted that the home team in their eagerness appealed very frequently.
About 3,000 people saw the first day's play which heavily favoured Ireland. The pitch was wet at the start but drier when Ireland batted and it was a good toss to lose. At 11 30 GS Patterson and WC Morgan faced Hynes and JP Fitzgerald. 19 were up of which Morgan had made 13 when he was run out by a magnificent throw from Cronin. Johnston came on and had Patterson caught by JP Fitzgerald at slip for 5. Johnston quickly took 2 more wickets. W.Scott cut a 4 and touched the next to the wicket keeper. 24 for 3. Stoever came in and hit 10 quickly but at 36 Johnston bowled Brockie who was trying a big hit to leg. Brockie had come in at no. 3 but made only 2. Brewster helped Stoever add 14, then the latter was bowled by a good one from JP Fitzgerald for 20. 50 for 5. Etting and Brewster added 23, the best stand of the innings. Tobin had been given a bowl and it was he who caught and bowled Etting for 15. Lunch was taken at 73 for 6. After lunch Brewster and DS Newhall put on 20. Brewster's careful hour long innings of 15 ended at 93 when he was caught at the wicket off Johnston. Fitzgerald bowled Brown at 100 and Meldon ran out Lowry one run later with an 80 yard throw. Palmer hit hard and made 9 and was left not out when Newhall was caught at mid off to give Johnston his 5th wicket. Newhall had played well for his 17. Five ball overs were used and the Irish bowling was very steady. While the wicket was being rolled between innings the crowd hummed the cricket ditty "The stand that we longed for never came".
E Fitzgerald went in with Hynes to face Palmer and Lowry - a mixture of fast and slow bowling. Fitzgerald only made one before Palmer had him LBW. Dunn made a pretty 15, tried to pull Lowry but only got the ball to Newhall at mid-on. 18-2. Maxwell and Hynes put on 33 when Maxwell was caught pulling a full pitch from Palmer. JP Fitzgerald came in and made 9 when he was splendidly caught at cover by Palmer off Brown. Gillman joined Hynes and together they played out time at 92 for 4. Hynes was 42 not out made in 105 minutes with no chance. Gillman was 10 not out when play ended at 5.00. In no department were Philadelphia the equal of the Irish on this day's display. Their batting and fielding (except Palmer's catch) were poor whereas the Irish fielding had been very good and E Fitzgerald was a "wonderful" wicket keeper.
There was heavy rain in the night and Brown and Patterson bowled when Hynes and Gillman reappeared at 11 15 on the second day. The home fielding had improved, the bowling was also good and the batsmen were on the defensive. A magnificent catch at cover by Etting off Brown dismissed Gillman before a run was scored. Cronin only made one before being caught at the wicket off Patterson (94 for 6) and at 96, again off Patterson, Brewster (a wonderful point) caught Johnston. This was a frightful start for Ireland. Hynes and Meldon, however, put matters to right. Meldon took no liberties with the good balls but hit the bad ones hard and runs came at a brisk pace. The Philadelphian total was passed and the score had reached 150 when Meldon was leg before to Brown for a good 23 out of 54 added for the eighth wicket. A few moments before 2 00 Hynes was out to a fast break back from Patterson. His 72 was made in three and a half hours with five 4's. Tobin was soon caught at mid off and the innings was over for 154. Patterson had the best bowling figures with his steady right arm medium paced bowling and he only conceded 25 runs in 145 balls. In this innings the lbw decision against E Fitzgerald was bad in that the batsman hit the ball.
A new opening pair were tried by Philadelphia. They were Scott and Stoever. Newhall told his men to play safe but this was disregarded. Stoever called Scott for a short run and the latter was run out for 0. Brockie came in and runs came quickly. At 26 Fitzgerald bowled Stoever for 18 which had been made in big hits. Morgan came in and lunch was taken. At 34 Morgan was bowled and Brockie was caught at the wicket at 41 - both wickets to Fitzgerald. So with 4 wickets down the scores were now level. Etting and Patterson were now together and they slaughtered the bowling in an effective if unorthodox manner. Patterson played defensively and 57 were added before both players were out at 98.
E Fitzgerald had handed over his wicket keeping gloves to Maxwell in order to bowl and it was Maxwell who caught Patterson off E Fitzgerald for 10. Etting was run out for 46 and it was considered that he had met a similar fate earlier but was given not out. JP Fitzgerald bowled Brewster at 100 and these three wickets for 2 runs again swung the game in Ireland's favour. Palmer joined his captain and made 11 out of 20 for the 8th wicket. Brown was next and no less than 47 were put on for the 9th wicket - match-winning runs as it turned out. Newhall was eventually bowled by Hynes for 30 and Lowry was also bowled by the same bowler at the same total of 167. The batting at the end had been good but it would seem that not enough use was made of Hynes who only bowled 9.2 overs out of 80 bowled. This ended the second day's play.
Great excitement was packed into the third day. 127 were required to win. Hynes, Maxwell Gillman and JP Fitzgerald only made 7 between them and 4 were out for 44. Meanwhile Dunn was batting in wonderful style and when he was bowled by Brown he had made 42 and the score was 57 for 5. Then Cronin and E Fitzgerald made a stand which put on 30 and threatened to win the match for Ireland. Patterson had come on to bowl and had Cronin finely caught at cover by Etting. 87-6-7. Meldon was next and again batted well but E Fitzgerald was caught off the slow left arm bowler, Lowry, at 99 and Patterson bowled Johnston at 104. Two wickets were now left and 23 were wanted. Synnott came in and saw Meldon missed by Brewster at point through over confidence off an easy chance. Runs came slowly and Brown, another slow left arm bowler, replaced Lowry. At 113 Synnott jumped out to Brown and saw Brockie at silly point make one of the greatest catches ever seen on this ground. Now Tobin came in last with 14 required. Meldon slowly made 5 more runs and then Tobin played on to Brown and the agony was over. Meldon was left 15 not out. In this innings the catches that dismissed Cronin and E Fitzgerald were disputed (quietly it may be said!) by the Irish party.
This was the closest finish in a big game in Philadelphia and when the game finally ended the scene beggared description. The bowling of Brown and Patterson right through the match was admirable as was the fielding of Etting and Brockie. Newhall captained the team splendidly and got runs when they were most needed. It seems Tobin was "primed by many tonics" before going in to keep his courage up. He fell heavily in trying to avoid a ball from Brown and only got back on all fours. The next ball bowled him.