A splendid win, the first over MCC in a three day match since the six run win at Coleraine in 1990. There had been a limited overs one-day win in 2001 at Shenley. There were quite a few "firsts" in this match. It was the first time, due to weather, that an innings (in fact there were two) was forfeited in a match played in Ireland. 295 to win was also a first beating the 260 for six which won the match -v- MCC at Lords in 1987 and thus became Ireland's greatest fourth innings total to win. Technically it was the fourth innings of the match. This was the first match Ireland played in Cork since the three-day win -v-Wales in 1978. Cork County did everything well except provide good weather. Rain restricted the first day and washed out the second day entirely.
Molins and Heasley were still injured and Peter Davy was unavailable (work). In came John Mooney (two caps in 2001) and Conor Armstrong. A new cap was awarded to David Kennedy, a batsman from Ballymena, who had been in the Selectors' minds for a while.
MCC had David Ward (ex Surrey) as captain. He had made 73 in 79 balls -v- Ireland at Arundel in 2001. Aged 41 and retired from Surrey he had recently been recalled and scored 70 in a limited overs match. G. Prince, a fast bowler, had played for MCC -v- Ireland at Shenley in 2001. PM Such was the ex-England off-spinner (11 Tests, 1993-'99), now 38 years of age, and retired from Essex. S. N. Hartley was ex-Yorkshire and A.G.J. Fraser was ex-Middlesex and brother of Angus Fraser. Dean Waugh was the younger brother of the Australian Waugh twins but he had a poor Match, scoring nought and taking one for 50 in 12 overs of slow left arm spin.
A ridiculous situation arose on the first morning. The pitch was covered and dry and there was a damp patch near the pitch. At 10.15 a.m., (a start was due at 11.00 a.m.), the decision taken was an inspection at 1.00 p.m. Some MCC players left the ground. At noon the ground was perfectly playable but there was no play until after lunch at 1.40 p.m. due to the absence of MCC players.
MCC won the toss and batted on a slow pitch. Ward took in with him the left handed Harrison. After two overs, PJK Mooney and Neely, there was a 10 minute rain break. On the first ball after resumption Ward (4) was dropped by John Mooney at slip off his brother - it was a simple slip catch and proved an expensive miss. Neither opening bowler pitched far enough up on this slow pitch. As a result runs flowed. Neely and PJK Mooney bowled 11 overs between them by which time the score was 49. Both batsmen hit three fours and Harrison hit Neely for a six.
Neely changed ends and Armstrong bowled two overs but overs 12 to 15 saw 25 scored, 16 of them in fours. McGonigle came on for over 16 and took a wicket with his second ball. Harrison stepped back to force and was bowled. 74-1-46. Cowell joined his captain and there was a quiet spell while McGonigle and McCallan bowled in tandem. McGonigle started with three maidens and four overs for one run. McCallan bowled tightly throughout a ten over spell giving up 22 runs and bowling five maidens. Ward did cut loose three times. He hit McGonigle for a six (over wide long-on) and a four in one over. Then he was missed when he gave a stumping chance off McCallan when 39. 100 was up in over 27. Then Ward went from 46 to 56 with a four and another six over long-on McGonigle). Just before tea (4.10 p.m.) Ward hit another six (off McCallan).
38 overs had been bowled at tea. MCC 135 for one, Ward 70, Cowell 15 in 70 balls.
In the seven overs after tea four bowlers were tried and Ward continued to score freely (three more fours and a six). This brought Ward to 97. No century had ever been scored -v- Ireland in Cork. Ward did not break the spell. Armstrong came on and Ward hit over a full length ball and was bowled for a most entertaining 97. He faced 145 balls in 170 minutes with four sixes and 12 fours. 172-2-97. He scored 70 of the 98 run stand with Cowell. Hartley joined Cowell. The overall pace slowed - a stand of 39 in 14 overs - but Cowell increased his pace. Cowell's 50 (114 balls) and 200 arrived together in over 57.
Dom Joyce was given a few overs but it was McGonigle who took the third wicket. John Power (one cap in 1994) had come on as a sub fielder for Neely. He was stationed in front of the pavilion at deep mid-wicket. Cowell hoisted the ball but Power had to run in a long way to take an excellent catch. For this he earned "The Champagne Moment" Award. 211-3-55.
A new spell by McCallan saw Waugh's downfall. He played back, missed and was LBW. 223-4-0. This dismissal ended play for the day at 6.08 p.m. due to more rain. It was intended to play until 7.00 p.m. to make up for the late start. Hartley was 20 and Lynch was the incoming batsman at the close.
Persistent rain prevented any play on day two which featured a sing song in the pavilion in the evening with a barbecue.
Play was possible for a 10.30 a.m. start on the third day due to hard and long work by the groundstaff. There would be 20 overs from 4.30 p.m. There was agreement that two innings would be forfeited to set Ireland a fourth innings task. This was fairly done by MCC Ireland bowled 20 more overs in 83 minutes. 71 runs were scored and four wickets fell. Neely and Paul Mooney started and then McCallan and Armstrong took over. Hartley did not add to his overnight 20 but it was not until the fifth over of the day that he was out. He was caught at the wicket off a tentative stroke from Neely's bowling. 231-5-20. Bouter, a Dutchman, scored 16 off 18 balls. McCallan got him in his first over, caught at deep mid-on by new cap Kennedy. 254-6-16.
Fraser came in next and hit McCallan over long-off and into the road. He lost Lynch to a good catch by McGonigle at mid-on, making ground to catch left handed. 268-7-15. Such joined Fraser but no more wickets fell until a declaration seven overs later when the score was 294. White dropped Such at slip off Armstrong at 282 and Fraser hit a straight six in the last over before the declaration (McCallan). He finished with 30 from 23 balls.
Ireland's three quick bowlers bowled 41 overs for 158 runs and three wickets. Leaving Joyce's four overs out of the equation the three slow bowlers bowled 37 overs for 115 runs and four wickets. Of these three White bowled only three overs. The declaration was very fair even if it set Ireland 285 to win. When Ireland went in at 12.08 p.m. a rough calculation indicated a minimum of 70 overs, perhaps rising to 74 or 75 if there was a reasonable use of slow bowlers which was to be expected on the third afternoon of a match plus having in the MCC team a slow bowler of Such's repute. As it turned out 53 overs were bowled before the last hour started and there were 20 balls left when Ireland hit a winning four after 69.4 overs.
O'Brien was promoted to open in the absence of Molins. He raced away and in the 10 overs bowled up to lunch 40 runs were scored (O'Brien 28, White 11). Prince (fast) and Harrison (medium) bowled nine of these overs and Such one, a maiden to O'Brien, as the last over before the lunch interval. O'Brien's 28 included five fours, one of them all run. Such continued after lunch but the pitch remained slow and without bounce. Fraser bowled one over and then Waugh (slow left arm) bowled a sixteen over spell with Such but neither took a wicket. 50 was up in 12 overs, 75 in 18 and 100 in 24. O'Brien reached his maiden International 50 in over 20 out of 82 having faced only 68 balls. In over 25 (Waugh) O'Brien (56) was badly dropped at deep square leg from a sweep shot. The score was 103 and it was O'Brien's only mistake. Fraser, an "all arms and legs" medium pacer and Bouter (slow left arm) came on as a double change after 29 overs. In eight overs from these two 48 runs came with both batsmen scoring briskly. Just before this double change White reached 50 out of 122 having faced 74 balls. By this time O'Brien had faced 96 balls and was 65.
Prince (38th over) and Such (39th) returned and a wicket fell to Prince in over 40. White hit a four but two balls later he was caught by Waugh at fly slip right handed above his head. 182-1-76. White faced 102 balls and hit six fours. The partnership of 182 is the second best to Warke and Rea's 224 -v- Wales in 1990 at College Park. O'Brien fairly raced to his century, with Joyce as his partner. They put on 18 runs of which Joyce made none despite facing 11 balls. O'Brien got to 99 after over 42. Such bowled the next over. The first ball was driven through extra cover to give the 20 year old left hander his first century in his eighth match. O'Brien took 11 runs off this over. He then faced up to Prince and perished. He hooked and was caught at backward square leg half way to the fence. 200-2-111. Only two Irish centuries have been scored in Cork. The previous one was also by a left hander, SF Bergin, -v- Scotland in 1961.
O'Brien faced 151 balls; his 100 came in 144 balls, with 12 fours (one all run). He was in for only 164 minutes. He was three months short of his 21st birthday, the fourth youngest to score a century for Ireland after RH Lambert (1893) and Tom Macdonald (1928) both not yet 20 and Andy White (2000) who was just past his 20th birthday. O'Brien was out in the 44th over. Now 95 were required in about 26 overs (it turned out to be 29) when Gillespie came in to join Joyce. Gillespie got going at once and hit Such for 10 (one all run four) in the last over before tea (45th over). The tea score was 213 for two, Joyce 2 and Gillespie 11. Such, the Test off spinner, had now bowled 14 overs but no wicket.
Such and Waugh were the first post tea bowlers. Indeed Such continued to bowl until the match finished. Gillespie hit Waugh for a four in his first over but was out in Waugh's second post tea over. He was caught low and left handed at first slip by MCC's captain, Ward. 225-3-20. 25 had been put on with Joyce, who again had a low percentage of the stand, five of the 25. In the next over, (Such) and two runs later Joyce was out. He prodded a bat/pad catch to Harrison at short leg. 227-4-6. Joyce was in for 11 overs but faced only 28 balls. McCallan joined John Mooney with 68 required to win, and the innings in its 51st over. The final 20 overs was called after 53 overs with the score at 234. 61 in 20 overs would be easy providing wickets did not fall.
After Bouter bowled one over Prince returned to partner Such at the bowling crease. Prince bowled three overs for 13 runs with McCallan hitting him for two fours, and Mooney scoring only in singles. 250 was up after six overs of the last 20. Then Bouter returned for Prince and McCallan lost his head and skied a sweep straight up to be caught at short leg. 254-5-20.
Kennedy arrived for his debut innings to join Mooney, whose first 2002 innings this was. 69 balls remained to get 41. 49 balls were all that were required. Mooney's first scoring strokes were all singles. Then he hit Such for a four, only the fourth boundary in Such's 24 overs to date. Prince came back and Mooney hit another four in the next over. Then Kennedy hit Prince for two fours in three balls, one off a no-ball. Bouter came back and Moony hit a four to long leg to end the match and provide a record Irish chase to win. The sixth pair put on 43 in 52 balls, Mooney 28, Kennedy 13.
Such bowled just over one-third of MCC's 69.4 overs and went for exactly three runs per over and one wicket. The rest of the bowlers were expensive.
Niall O'Brien was named Man-of-the-Match for which he received a piece of cut glass