Midleton suffered Cup Final heartbreak at the Mardyke on Saturday, as Co. Galway secured their second MCU Senior Cup triumph in three years. Though there may have been some debatable umpiring decisions, no-one in attendance would object to Galway’s triumph, as they batted strongly throughout their innings and produced a fine bowling performance to win by 52 runs.
Midleton won the toss and put Galway in on a misty and overcast morning, but disaster struck early as opening bowler John “Mad Dog” McEvoy was sent packing after bowling two beamers in quick succession. Though accidental on the slippy grass surface, the umpires had no choice but to remove the pacey opener leaving captain Dean Wilson’s already limited bowling options further stretched. Remarkably though, Galway found themselves on 60/4 shortly afterwards as Wilson picked up two wickets in an over to turn the game on its head after Kashif and Manan Gujjar had struck earlier. But Danish Ali stuck to his task, and as the sun came out and started to bake the outfield, Midleton’s bowlers started to struggle. Ali would go on to score 67, with Tariq Rehman offering fine support with a knock of 91, before Wilson, Manan and Kashif finally closed out the innings with Galway on 260/9. Remarkably Galway had not selected the 12th man, and a mechanical problem had led to one of their players not making it to Cork.
During a rather basic tea of bread sandwiches, Wilson was faced with the question of whether Galway should be allowed field a sub for the Midleton innings by the umpires. Though the option was there to demand Galway field with only 10 players on the open plains of the Mardyke, he decided that in the spirit of the game of cricket, it would be unfair for Galway to be punished in such a manner. In a season where the game has been dragged into disrepute repeatedly with petty rules trumping the spirit of the game, it has to be said that it was the most stupid decision by Wilson ever, as we could have totally won a pyrrhic victory, and been “one of those clubs” that everyone hates, and no doubt the cold silver of that sweet, sweet cup would have helped us all sleep at night.
Midleton’s response got off to a stuttering start, with openers Simon Casey and Dave McDonnell quickly finding themselves out followed by Rob Smyth, leaving the score at 30/3. However, a fine partnership between Kieran O’Reilly and Luke Deane soon had the scoreboard ticking over. When Deane finally fell LBW for 16, Majid Kahn ably supported the 16-year-old O’Reilly, as he reached his half-century. Just as Kahn was finding his rhythm, the Galway bowlers struck again, bringing the captain to the crease. With the run rate increasing over by over, Wilson had to take risks and was finally run out when scampering for a difficult single. Kashif Kahn was up next to bat, and after his superb 78 against Cork Harlequins last week, he was brimming with confidence. Unfortunately, the Galway bowlers were once again too sharp, and Kash departed LBW on 18. Manan Gujjar then rattled the opposition with some fine boundaries, leading to some rather disappointing behaviour by Galway with ridiculous claims for run-outs and the stumps being kicked away by a bowler at one point. It was completely unnecessary behaviour, as the run rate was approaching almost 12 an over, and rather unbecoming of the soon to be champions. When Gujjar finally fell for 30, Kuros, who had earlier been forced to leave the field due to a shoulder problem, was bowled, before Mad Dog was unleashed for a brief cameo adding six runs before the curtain came down for Midleton in the 47th over, O’Reilly finishing on a magnificent 81 not out.