On September 22nd, in Armagh, the Leinster Cricket Umpires squeezed home by the narrowest of margins in the second White Stick Trophy Match when D. Brennan nurdled firmly past third man for two to pass the Northern Ireland Cricket Umpires' 149.
The LCUA won the toss and elected to field and NICUA got off to a good start off the wily leg-spin of J. Neville and the subtle (and crude) variations of the evergreen D. Geraghty, one of several debutants for LCUA. The latter was easily kept out and was quickly replaced by Cap'n Connolly.
Neville picked up both openers and was rested. W. Russell was unfortunate enough to get one of Connolly's straight flighted balls and was out without troubling the notchers.
P. Lunney, a noted powerful striker of the ball, looked dangerous but was deceived by a slower ball from Stan (Jaysus, is he still alive!) McCready and Skipper (as he then was) O'Hara was undone by an even slower ball.
It was suggested by the distinguished gathering of spectators that, had O'Hara managed to interpose a pad, the umpire would have had to have given him not out on the grounds that he couldn't be sure the ball would have reached the wicket. Alas poor Paddy, somehow the crimson rambler crept up to the timbers and dislodged the fatal bails. NICUA 40-5 and a long way to go.
W.H. Ross now joined the determined B. Arlow (the only man to have recorded 'did not bat' twice in the inaugural match) and they proceeded to accumulate steadily. Various bowlers were tried without much success, but with considerable amusement until, in desperation, Geraghty was put on at the end nearer to chez Vaughan and defeated Arlow, who was clearly no admirer of the decision. Connolly meanwhile returned with a no-nonsense air and eliminated Ross.
P.White was impressive and struck some lusty blows and stole some nifty singles from the flagging LCUA fielders. Finally, he was drawn forward swung once too often and was neatly stumped by Ford. P. Reith and D. Adams batted out the remaining overs and brought the score to a very creditable 149 and there were some worried faces on the LCUA team as they left the field.
LCUA set off steadily with J. Neville and F. Tobin. The latter was drawn forward and unable to regain his ground while P. Reith elegantly lined up the stumps before removing the bails. It was a fine example of an appeal preceding the event.
B. Burke set about stopping the rot and saving the match. Meanwhile, the asking rate was climbing and in an attempt to accelerate, Neville holed out to a fine overhead catch by O'Hara at deep mid-on. Burke finally succumbed and D. Condon and D. Geraghty quickly followed, the latter to a superb catch by McCullough running in from the point boundary. LCUA were then in deep trouble at 53-5 off 20 overs.
As they did last year they staged a rescue act with, this time J. Pryor and J. Ford the men of the hour. They proceeded steadily enough at first and then Pryor took his courage in both hands and heaved a magnificent six onto the roof of the pavilion. As the distinguished President of NICUA said in his remarks at the end of the match, that was almost certainly the turning point of the match.
Certainly Pryor grew in confidence and Ford matched him. Together they had put on 95 for the 6th wicket and the score was 148 when the NICUA captain came on to bowl the final over. Far from being a gesture of surrender, P. O'Hara all but turned the match. His first delivery bowled Pryor and J. Connolly could make nothing of the next three and was bowled by the 5th ball of the final over. D. Brennan, whose performance with the bat in the inaugural match had inspired little confidence, now faced the last ball with two wanted to win and, with as nice a dab-cut as you'd see in a long day's march, glory was his and the match was Leinster's.
The President of NICUA awarded the man-of-the-match trophy to J. Pryor for his superb 64, the highest score in the series, and expressed the feeling of all when he described the umpiring as appalling.
The hospitality was magnificent and Billy Williams and Joe Vaughan were properly congratulated on their fine organisation of the event.