MALAHIDE became the third Dublin team to win the Irish Cup when they defeated Rush by four wickets. But it should have been so much closer and, indeed, the underdogs could even have won the match.
Rush had not won one game in their seven previous years in the competition but their bowlers will be kicking themselves for the indiscipline on their biggest day. They conceded nine no balls and 18 wides and still Malahide needed 48 overs to reach their modest target of 149.
The crucial moment of the day came early, with the Rush score on 57, when Naseer Shaukat was leg before to Damien Ryan for just two. The Rush professional has been instrumental in his side's surprise progress to the final and when he was dismissed, the heads dropped and only Colm Doyle went on to play a substantial innings. He faced 88 balls for his 40, hitting six boundaries, before he became Ryan's third victim. Peter Saville and former Scottish international Jim Govan also took three wickets apiece as Malahide appeared to build a firm stranghold on the game at halfway.
However, their cautious batting ensured they were never going to charge to victory and when Shaukat took three of the first four wickets to leave Malahide on 92 for four, the game was still in the balance. Brian Gilmore, who played one match for Ireland some eight years ago, was the immovable object and, in partnership with young John Pryor they edged their side ever closer. Both were out within a run of each other, just 11 from the winning post, Shaukat finally ending Gilmore's innings of 43, from 134 balls with only one boundary, but the Weir brothers saw Malahide home and, for the best part of 12 months they can call themselves all-Ireland champions.
The game at Castle Avenue was watched by the biggest cricket crowd Dublin has seen since the World Cup at the same venue three years ago, likely to be powerful argument when it's decision time for the venue of the 2005 ICC Trophy ? north or south.