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Cork Cricket Club

Kelleher ton helps County reach Cup Final

Cork County 2 travelled East on Saturday last to take on Midleton in the semi-final of the Junior Cup at a windswept Midleton Town Park. Having been asked to set a score, the away side could hardly have got off to a worse start, losing Cormac Hassett and Peter Barlow within the first three overs.

Robert Duggan and Aidan Kelleher set about the task of rebuilding the innings and through assertive shot-making and aggressive running had pushed to score to 55 when Duggan was caught at mid-wicket off Ken Higgs for 23.

County skipper Scot Jeffers and Sean Power then departed in quick succession, both falling to the off-spin of Higgs to leave the visitors tottering on 69-4. Kelleher, who had continued to attack the Midleton bowlers despite wickets falling around him was joined at the crease by James Hunter. Their first task was to bat the remaining three overs until drinks however four balls short of their target, Clinton Laverty induced Hunter to sky one to Ian Tovey at mid-on.

Drinks were taken with Midleton in total control at 72-5 from 21.2 overs. Kevin O’Sullivan was the latest to join Kelleher in the middle and while he took his time, Kelleher continued to be aggressive and reached his fifty in the thirtieth over. The combination of fluid stroke-making and patient defence began to take its toll on Midleton who tried four bowling changes without success.

The score had reached 130-7 in the 37th over when Kelleher really began to cut loose, smashing four sixes in as many overs. A sumptuous lofted cover-drive brought the young right-hander into the nineties and another boundary from the next ball this time over square-leg brought up the hundred partnership between Kelleher and O’Sullivan, the latter having contributed 23 singles.

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With the scoreboard ticking over 170, Kelleher brought up his century with another lusty blow over mid-wicket. It was a magnificent hundred, even more so in the circumstances when team-mates had been falling all around him.

Having successfully reached 185 with three overs left, O’Sullivan and Kelleher set about the task of opening their shoulders and pushing Cork County above 200. They added three more before O’Sullivan flicked Danish Iqbal to Ian Tovey at short third man to be out for a 25 off 64 balls. He departed having put on 116 with Aidan Kelleher in just over 21 overs.

Some late pyrotechnics from both the centurion and the ultra aggressive Noel Cronin had moved the Cork County score to 206 from their 45 over allocation, Kelleher out with three balls left in the innings for 124.

Midleton knew that a good start was imperative to chase down the imposing target and Luke Deane together with opening partner Majid Khan took the attack to the County new ball bowlers. They had amassed 39 when Deane was sent back, failed to beat Sean Power’s throw from mid-wicket and was out for 14.

Justin McGurk was generating good pace coming down the slope and nicked off Simon Casey for 3 with the last ball of the thirteenth over. Savad Mon entered the fray and struggled against the swing of James Hunter before clubbing McGurk over mid-wicket for four. The opening bowler would have the final say however, when Mon cut a lifting delivery straight to Cormac Hassett at point.

Midleton continued to attack, with Majid Khan a particular thorn in the side of the bowlers. His favoured area was mid-wicket and he succeeded in pulling anything back of a length to the boundary. Khan had progressed to 41 when he tried one heave too many, James Hunter taking the catch at mid-on off the bowling of Rob Duggan.

Drinks were taken with Midleton 83-4, but losing Khan was a big blow, particularly given that the seam bowling combination of Rob Duggan and Noel Cronin were making run-scoring a tough task. Clinton Laverty joined his skipper Kuros Muhammadi at the crease but departed soon after, caught behind off Duggan for 6.

The home side’s captain who had batted patiently and provided good support for his partners was next to go when his middle stump was removed by a Duggan yorker.

The right-armer thought he had picked up a fourth wicket when Danish Iqbal edged behind to Peter Barlow but umpire Billy Quinn felt otherwise and despite a wry smile, Iqbal stood his ground.

Sachin Saxena’s off-spin was introduced after an excellent spell from Noel Cronin and three quick-fire wickets, those of Kashif Khan, Peter Thackeray and Ian Tovey put Cork County on the brink of victory.

Some steadfast resistance from Ken Higgs and Danish Iqbal made the visitors wait, but a mix-up off the bowling of Kevin O’Sullivan ended proceedings, handed Cork County a 67 run victory and a place in the Junior Cup final.

Despite the importance of the game, the match was played in a terrific spirit and the sporting nature of the contest was a credit to both clubs.

 

 

 

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