The winning team / supporters and Tom Godfrey of IBI Corporate Finance
The 2017 IBI Corporate Finance Leinster Senior Cup came to an exciting conclusion in the Vineyard yesterday when the home side defeated Merrion in the final in dramatic fashion. It was an excellent day’s cricket with some exception individual performances and the sort of twists and turns in a game that kept the supporters on both sides engaged throughout.
The Hills won the toss and inserted Merrion. The decision was soon vindicated as in the first half of the innings Nazeer Shoukat [2/10] and then Luke Clinton [2/26] ensured the home team had the clear advantage. But as he has done throughout the competition John Anderson  accumulated runs steadily and Merrion fought their way back into the game. Michael Lewis  and Patrick Tice  provided excellent support and with five overs to go Merrion looked well on the way to posting a 200 plus total. But then the game took another, and what in the end may have proved decisive, twist as Ryan Cartwright [4/30] returned to the attack and in short order accounted for Anderson and Rice and wrapped up the tail.
A total of 186 all out was a lot better than Merrion might have expected half-way through their innings and it was certainly competitive. Scores have not been all that high in the Vineyard throughout this competition [though this says more about the bowling attack of the home side than of the conditions which as usual were excellent] but it did not feel like enough. There had been a momentum shift in the last five overs and Merrion certainly left 15 - 20 runs on the field.
The Hills, as they have have done many times this season, started steadily and put on 30 runs without loss in the first ten overs. In the 12th over Dom Joyce brought back Tyrone Kane [3/29] into the attack and this immediately produced results and two wickets fell. A sort of cat and mouse game followed with Cormac MacLoughlin Gavin  and Hamid Shah  gradually reducing the required number of runs but at the same time never getting on top of the bowling with Tom and Sean Stanton and Jamie Brown keeping the run rate at about 4 runs per over.
But there was a sense that the critical phase of the match was still to come when the big hitters from The Hills took to the stage. Having got the score past the 100 mark and with eight overs to go, The Hills still needed 10 per over. But once Max Sorensen [64*], Albert van der Merwe  and Ryan Cartwright [16*] got going there was no way to stop the flood of runs. There was a flurry of 6s from Sorensen  and the game was all over with over two overs to spare.
In the end the objective assessment must be that The Hills won the match through their dominance of three critical phases of the game: the first 15 overs where the control exercised by Nazeer Shoukat blunted the attacking options of the Merrion top order and ensured that there would not be a big total to chase, the final overs of the innings when Ryan Cartwright [who was awarded man-of-the-match for his spell] bowling full and straight ensured that there would be no final acceleration by Merrion [as had happened in their semi-final v Clontarf] and the last six overs of the match when The Hills’ middle order hit 80 runs.
In the end it was an excellent final with plenty of excitement, memorable individual performances and brilliant fielding on both sides. Some excellent catches were taken and if there were any blemishes in the ground fielding they were so minor that I have already forgotten them.
In the preview to the match I suggested that it might turn on the contest between Merrion’s spin attack and the big hitters of The Hills. In a day when only one wicket was taken by a spinner of either side, one can say that the outcome was determined by the control exercised by the medium pace quartet from The Hills and the power hitting of their middle order.
Note: The full scorecard is available to view on the website [Home > Results]