The Leps in Amsterdam
The Leprechauns undertook their first overseas in many years last month as they accepted an invitation from their dutch touring side counterparts, de Flamingos to take part in last month's Amsterdam cricket festival.
It was a hardy touring group of sixteen that met in Dublin airport soon after 5am to get the early flight to Amsterdam. There were representatives from seven different Leinster clubs with Leprechauns Secretary, Dick Forrest flying in from Portugal to join the touring squad.
The squad had plenty of Leinster Division 1 and representative players giving a strong look to the Irish touring side. It was just as well too as on arrival to the beautiful VRA ground on day 1 of the tournament the leps were greeted by the KNCB XI warming up who were in essence the Netherlands 'A' team, including the likes of Stephan Myburgh and Ben Cooper in their playing ranks.Captain Robert Forrest won the toss and chose to bat first, despite facing an impressive attack the Leprechauns battled to 123 in very difficult conditions in a reduced 27 over match. Bill Coghlan's huge 6 and battling Adam Chester and Tomas Rooney Murphy innings were the highlights of Leprechauns effort. James Parkinson then showed just how difficult the batting conditions were bowling a beautiful first over to reduce KNCB XI to 0 for 1 before the rain became too heavy to continue resulting in a washed out first game.
That evening all competing squads were treated to a stunning boat tour of Amsterdam as the squads discussed the matches that got away due to weather during game day 1.
Better weather came for the second day of cricket as the tournament hosts, de Flamingos were up next for the Leprechauns and it proved to be a particularly memorable match. Despite a flying start from Alan Lewis, the leprechauns collapsed to 81 for 6 before a partnership between Oliver Gunning and Andrew Leonard brought the Leprechauns back into the game. Gunning went on to complete a superb century but only just before running out of partners as Tamim Faqiri and James Parkinson played crucial hands to get the Leprechauns up to 213 for 9.
The second innings saw some remarkable cricket and a truly thrilling finish that had the large crowd that had gathered on the edge of their seats. Belligerent ball striking from the Tasmanian first class cricketer Caleb Jewell who was supported well by de Klerk left de Flamingos needing less than a run a ball with 7 wickets in hand, but the late introduction of Oliver Gunning's off-spin changed the game. His spell of 4 for 21 combined with James Parkinson's nerveless final over saw the Leprechauns win a thriller by 2 runs.
A magnificent gala dinner for more than 150 gathered guests was then held on site as many legends of Dutch and County cricket including Andre Van Troost, Roland Lefebvre held an interesting panel discussion on the future of Dutch and associate cricket.
The final day of the tournament was scheduled as a T20 day with the Leprechauns needing a win over the Free Foresters to be in with a chance of topping the table. Captain Forrest lost the toss and the Leprechauns bowlers took plenty of punishment, before clawing back the run rate late in the innings leaving around 8 an over needed.
Despite losing some early wickets, the Leprechauns set about doing this in quick time with Declan Gallagher playing a simply superb hand whilst Oliver Gunning continued his strong form. Boundaries rained down across Amstelveen as the Leps knew they needed to increase their net run-rate and a comprehensive win in the 16th over saw the Leprechauns remain unbeaten.
It was a delighted Irish touring party that left Amsterdam triumphant much to the delight of touring party members David Cooke, Heatley Tector and Helen Caird. Then there was further good news with Oliver Gunning scooping the Player of the Tournanment prize and Cormac McLoughlin being a hugely popular winner of the best tourist award.
The Leprecahuns now look forward to August when they will travel to Athlone on Sunday the 13th and Oakhill on Monday 21st.
A note of special thanks must go to all involved in Netherlands cricket, particularly de Flamingos, all at VRA cricket club and Wulf Van Alkemade who were the most brilliant of hosts.
The Leprechauns also wish to extend a huge thanks to Krystle nightclub for their generous sponsorship of the tour.
Game 1 v KNCB XI
Leprechauns 123-9 (27 overs, A Chester 26, T Rooney-Murphy 22, U Balke 3-14, G Kroesen 2-14)
Dutch 1-0 off 1 (J Parkinson 1-0)
No Result, match abandoned due to rain
Game 2 v De Flamingos
Leprechauns 213-9, 40 overs (O Gunning 101, A Lewis 28, A Leonard 27, O Gunning 3-19, V Kingman 3-42)
De Flamingos, 40 overs, 211-8 (Jewel 80, De Klerk 77, Gunning 4-21, Parkinson 2-30)
Leprechauns win by 2 runs
Game 3 v Free Foresters
Free Foresters 166-8, 20 overs (T Hodson, J Parsley 24, A Leonard 2-31, J Parkinson 2-31)
Leprechauns 170-5, 15.2 overs (O Gunning 61, D Gallagher 57*, J Parsley 3-20, S Singh 2-27)
Leprechauns win by 5 wickets