Some of the finest writers of our generation would struggle to come up with one word that would describe Midleton Second’s season opener away to Co. Tipperary Second’s this weekend. Incredibly, there are times when even the word “totes-amazeballs” doesn’t quite fit the bill.
Midleton’s day started badly, with only 10 players arriving at Ballyeighan on a bright Saturday afternoon, but things started to improve as stand-in captain Simon Casey won the toss and elected to bat. Tipperary claimed two quick wickets, as openers Darragh O’Shea and Atif Akbar fell early on, but thoughts of a short afternoon’s work in the field quickly evaporated as Atif Jameel and Casey steadied the ship. By the time Jameel finally fell for 39, the day’s main target of batting the 40 overs suddenly began to seem achievable. New signing Miller Masters added some more steel to the middle order, before Majid Sharif continued his fine form with the bat from 2016, piling on 23 more runs. Sijil Marasseril’s bowling ensured the tail didn’t wag, but Midleton kept the pressure up right until the last ball, another new signing Jon McNamara unlucky to be run out on the last ball as Midleton posted a target of 173, Casey top scoring on 42.
Young Luke O’Reilly had shown a huge improvement in his bowling in pre-season, and sure enough, his opening spell of bowling had the hosts on the back foot from the off, the youngster not allowing himself to be bullied by the Tipp openers. At the other end, Magsi kept things tight as always, before Masters joined the attack with an excellent spell of bowling. By drinks, everyone knew they had a game on their hands, with the hosts at 80/3. Tipp threw the kitchen sink at their visitors, trying every trick in the book against some fine bowling by Majid, Thackeray and Akbar, but the fielding was excellent and Midleton finally bowled their hosts out with two overs and 18 runs to spare in a thrilling finish that saw the new-look Badgers get their season off to a winning start.