ATHLONE: 175 for 9 off 35 overs
Batting: George Thomas 49 retd hurt; Venugopal 25; Wentzel 21 ;Schofield 13
Bowling: Mohanavelu 5-1-17-3; Wentzel 3-0-23-3 ; Balaji 3-1-10-1; Ash 5-0-23-1
HALVERSTOWN: 147 All Out
Batting: D.Ryall 61 D.Drumm 25* S. Hayes 14 S.Rix 5 J.Kirby 5
Bowling: J.Kirby 4-1-11-2 D.O’Ceallaigh 1-0-16-1 G.O’Shea 4-0-17-1; K.Hodson 7-1-29-1 ; D.Drumm 5-0-36-1; A,Barber 6-0-45-1 ; D. Ryall 4-2-4-0: B.McAllister 4-0-13-0
It is a long time since we played Athlone. Distance is an issue: the hour and a half journey can make it difficult to get the teams together, particularly in recent years when getting a team out at all has become trickier. Thus the once annual fixture fizzled out. In 2007 the game was played in Athlone where we lost by 100 runs, scoring just 53. In 2008 we travelled again to Athlone and lost by 8 wickets, scoring 71. There was a return match in which we fared better with 134 runs but still lost by 61. In 2011 a combined Athlone/Laois side came to Harristown and we scored 150 runs but still lost by 38. After that I can find no record of playing them though I did cancel a game three years ago or so because we could not field a team- and that was for Harristown, sadly. I am not sure whether it is a good sign, but over half of the team from 8 years ago is still playing for us, though I was the only one to play on the day.
We played a 35 over game and put Athlone in to bat. Their openers started well, putting on over half century before we struck. Suddenly we claimed a rake of wickets and it looked as though they might not get to the full century. Then along came George, a big hitting player league player who showed us no quarter. I thought he scored his 50 before retiring, but oddly the scorebook records 49 retired hurt. However, they got to 175 off the 35 overs with one wicket in hand. What had looked a handy target was now a tough one. Despite this we bowled quite well, especially Darren who took no wickets but conceded just a run an over with his slow left handers. Jon Kirby put in a fine spell with 2 wickets to show for it. Indeed it was hard to fault anyone- Deaglan took a nice caught-bowled, Gerard and Brian did well and the other bowlers toiled away manfully.
Never mind, we had Kevin in great form after his half century last time out and a decent batting line-up. But as wickets tumbled, he said to me “we’ve been here before”. We have. The wickets tumbled early, Kevin’s with them, and we were 35 for 3 after 9 overs. 66 for 5 looked bleak, but Darren came along with a wonderful 61 which included 11 boundaries. I managed the other end for a while , blocking to his smashing and with 10 overs to go we were 127 for 8, Darren falling to a catch from Morney’s impressive bowling. Finally Stuart Hayes came in at no. 11, having kept wicket very well when we bowled. The last wicket stand was exciting as we ran everything we could, taking the score to a respectable 147 before Stuart was LBW in the 29th over- 28 runs short with 6 overs left.
For Athlone Mohanavelu’s bowling figures were impressive, with Morney Wentzel not far behind, also taking 3 wickets. Vignesh bowled with Darren-like economy whilst the youngster, Ash, showed promise. We are a fair, indeed generous, bunch- as evidenced by the three LBWs we gave them! It was a most sporting encounter and at the end their captain invited us to send back out two batsmen that did not get much time at the crease and they would bowl out the 35 overs (off the official record- or until a batsman was out. Deaglan and Gerard put together a nice few runs; just a shame they did not manage it the first time around! This was the close encounter; well done to all the Oaks.