The 5th XI continued their wonderful winning streak with a three wicket victory away against Clontarf at the weekend in St Anne’s Park. They are now firmly in second spot in the league table behind leaders Adamstown. They boast an identical win/loss record to the leaders but have claimed fewer bonus points. Their five game winning run has left them in with a real chance of winning the title with only three games left to play this season.
An excellent five wicket burst from Michael Fahy turned the game on its head as Clontarf seemed to be cruising along to setting a much large total than the 131 they eventually posted. In reply the chase was led by Maginnis and Moore who managed to put their side in a position to win the game. Although it did get a little bit more frantic than needs be at the end!
The weather was always likely to be mixed on the day but a good strong breeze overhead kept the clouds moving along at a decent lick so there were no overly long interruptions. In fact the first innings of the game was played in wonderfully sunny conditions. Not wanting to break from tradition the 5th XI yet again lost the toss and were put into the field by the hosts. Phoenix made only one change from the previous week as Admiral Chester was replaced by Ali Raza.
Phoenix did have the benefit of prior knowledge of the ground on their side as they had faced off against Clontarf’s team from a grade higher in the Cup earlier in the year. Tom Stevens took up his usual role as opening bowler from one end while Ali Raza provided pace at the other.
The boundaries were very short but the outfield grass very long so the conditions were more suited to the aerial route. The opening bowlers were very hard to get away, though, and Clontarf found it hard to inject any momentum into their innings early on. Phoenix made the breakthrough when Currie (4) nicked off to Raza and was taken well by Ebbs. Ebbs was to keep excellently all day when any misfield behind the sticks was likely to cost a boundary off the pace bowlers.
Phoenix kept the strangle on and Clontarf had only reached 17 for 1 after 10 overs. However they began to get into their stride thereafter and Opperman in particular began to knock the ball around a bit. It was far from easy going, though, as the standards of fielding and bowling remained as high as they had been sent a week earlier. Stevens was unlucky to see a couple of chances missed off his bowling but he finished with nonetheless excellent figures of 8-2-28-0 while at the other end Raza finished 8-4-9-1 five of which were wides.
Khan and Hazelden were the first change bowlers and they kept up the pressure which the good start had applied. Clontarf were 49 for 1 at drinks and the game was nicely poised.
Hazelden was the man to make the next impact for Phoenix as he had Opperman (29) bowled as the ball rolled back onto his stumps after he tried to defend. It was an unlucky way to get out but it was just the breakthrough the visitors had required. Cormac Devilly and Arthur rebuilt for the home side and they had amassed a handy 26 run partnership leaving their side 81 for 2 heading towards the last ten overs of the game.
It was a good platform that could have seen them launch themselves to an imposing total. However Michael Fahy was about to be introduced into the attack and turn the game on its head. Fahy’s first over was decent enough as he looked to loosen up and find his rhythm. It was his second over, though, that was to turn the tables in Phoenix favour.
First ball he had Cormac Devilly (19) clean bowled and the next ball was blocked out Gilbride. The third ball over the over was to do for Gilbride (0), though, as Fahy had Clontarf heads spinning. Things got markedly worse for the hosts as Adamson (0) was cleaned up for a Golden Duck next ball and Fahy was on a hat trick. The field moved up and Fahy made the batsman play but the ball was neatly defended. Fahy’s triple wicket maiden had devastated the Clontarf middle order leaving them 81 for 5.
Phoenix pressed hard from then on in as the onus was on Clontarf to try and rack up a big score. You just couldn’t keep Fahy out of the act for long though and in his next over he disposed of Arthur (19) yet again clean bowled. The virtues of a good line and length have never been so blatantly displayed as they were last weekend.
James Cox (9) was the next man to go as he sliced one up in the air close to the wicket and Moore managed to trundle in to take a fairly handy catch low and running forward off the bowling of Hughes.
Clontarf passed the 100 mark before the next wicket fell as they looked to up the tempo late in the game. Sean Devilly (1) was bowled by Hashmi Khan who had come back on to resume his duty as a death bowler for a side lacking their top two wicket takers (Mooney and Chester). It was a just reward for yet another magic display of bowling as he turned in figures of 8-1-19-1 as his form with the ball continues to be of the highest calibre.
Fahy picked up a well deserved FiveFor as Vickers (4) hit one straight down the throat of Moore at Midwicket. It was a richly deserved reward for some truly game changing bowling. Fahy would likely be known more predominantly as a batsman but he showed his value with the ball in hand as he was the star of the show for Phoenix.
The final wicket fell on the final ball of the game when Raza ran out Daniel Nolan (2) with a good throw to Ebbs who did the rest behind the sticks. Clontarf finished 131 all out from 40 overs. It was a very similar total to the one which Phoenix had chased away to league leaders Swords a week earlier so they knew the task at hand.
The weather took a turn for the worse at the start of the Phoenix reply as the two sides were on and off on four occasions early in the chase. It was less than ideal for the opening duo of Khan and Moore. Khan (5) was the first man out as he was caught off the bowling of Nolan by Currie trying to hook a ball that probably wasn’t of a suitable length.
That brought Alan Maginnis to the crease fresh off his heroics of a week earlier. Considerably more refreshed than six days previously he started off at a decent rate but some good bowling and tricky outfield conditions slowed his pace a little. He couldn’t be tied down for long, though, and he broke the shackles with a maximum over Square Leg.
Moore replied in kind in the next over as pulled one over the fence at Square Leg and the partnership started to pick up pace. Phoenix were well placed at drinks with the score on 76 for 1.
Maginnis decided he wanted to get a move on after the resumption and was lucky to escape as he saw one that he hit straight u in the air dropped when it should have been taken. Never one to look a gift horse in the mouth he proceeded to clear the pickets on another couple of occasions as Phoenix passed the 100 mark.
Moore had his own scare to survive at the other end as there was a massive appeal off the bowling of skipper S Devilly. A mixture of bat, ground and ball all being in the same vicinity at once had a couple of Clontarf players adamant the ball had been feathered behind, the batsman was unsure and the umpire was unmoved so the decision was not out.
Clontarf did strike soon after, though, as Maginnis could not survive another one popped up in the air. He was caught by S Devilly off the bowling of Vickers bringing to an end an excellent 85 run partnership. Maginnis had contributed 44 runs off 60 balls with 2 fours and 3 sixes.
Phoenix were still in the box seat at this stage but the home side had no intention of lying down. Ebbs (5) was the next man out as he tried to pull one from outside off and chopped onto his stumps as Vickers claimed a second victim.
Mumtaz (0) didn’t fare any better as he played around a straight one and all of a sudden Phoenix were 109 for 4.
Moore and Walker steadied the ship and brought their side some much needed stability. The runs then started to come and the total was whittled down bit by bit. Phoenix managed to get the scores to level and it seemed the end was a formality. It was to prove to be anything but.
First Walker (7) had an ill advised hack off the bowling of Cox and was caught at Short Mid On. Then Fahy (0) was run out by a direct hit from Vickers after failing to back up properly. Then Hughes (0) was out caught and bowled Brennan and Phoenix had lost three wickets, and blown two potentially valuable bonus points, with the score tied.
Ali Raza was in no mood to hang around and he hoiked the second ball he faced straight up in the air. Luckily for him he got enough elevation on it to make it an extremely difficult chance and it landed just out of the fielders reach to give Phoenix the single they needed. Moore finished unbeaten on 48 from 102 balls including 4 fours and 1 six.
It was another fine all round performance from a team that has battled hard all season long. They now move into second place outright and are still well in the mix for the title and/or promotion. They share an identical win/loss record with table toppers Adamstown and only fewer bonus points gamed over the year seems them in second.
They move on to face off against Halverstown this weekend in what is their sixth must win game in a row!
Clontarf: 131 all out after 40 overs
Phoenix: 132 for 7 after 35.3 overs
Phoenix won by three wickets
Clontarf won the toss and elected to
Man of the Match