The 2011 season for DUCC commenced in earnest in late March with indoor training sessions on college grounds. New coach, Brían O’Rourke, oversaw and mentored an encouraging number of players with great organisation and purpose that augured well for the coming season. Brían’s message was clear – total commitment would be required from every player to ensure our end goal, promotion to Division 2, was achieved.
Outdoor training in Clontarf CC followed as the momentum began to build towards our first friendly on home soil against Civil Service Northern Ireland in early April. On an early season pitch, runs were hard to come by as we batted first, eventually bowled out for 82, 43 coming from the bat of Eoghan Delany. The game looked done and dusted as CSNI strolled to 43-1 before Darren Nicol’s tight spell subdued Irish international Nigel Jones enough to allow Delany to take his wicket and initiate a collapse amongst the CSNI batting line-up. Conor “Beany” Hoey, rolling back the years, strangled the middle to lower order to claim 3 wickets in a fine display of leg spin bowling. However, the decent start allowed CSNI to scrape over the line with 2 wickets remaining.
The competitive season in Division 3 began the following week against Malahide 2nd XI and a relatively convincing victory resulted. A tight bowling and fielding display saw wickets fall regularly and Malahide dismissed for 165 with Anwar, Mann, Nicol, Hoey and Delany in the wickets. The DUCC reply started promisingly, with debutants Hughie Pike and Eoghan Conway reaching 88-1 before Pike was dismissed for 25. A minor collapse ensued as the score became 119-4 and Malahide gaining momentum. However, Conway battled on with great fluency, particularly severe off his legs and reached a fine 102 from 111 balls before being dismissed with the end in sight at 161-6. The game was won by 4 wickets.
The next week saw the game of the season. Under blue skies and sun, a strong Leinster 2nd XI came to College Park and found themselves in the field first. At 105-6 DUCC looked to be struggling to post a competitive total. However, a great partnership between Tom Bouch and Chris Minch brought the total to 171 before Minch was dismissed for 15. Important contributions from Anwar and Hoey, coupled with one of the most resilient innings of recent times of 65 from Bouch, saw the total to a very defendable 236. The Leinster reply started well for DUCC, with wickets coming at regular intervals but the run rate remaining healthy. At 185-5 the game was evening poised, even more so when 39 where needed from 3 overs. However, no balls and free hits marred the 48th over that left 19 needed from 12 balls. On the big College Park outfield runs were hard to defend and Leinster managed to pass the DUCC total with 1 ball and 3 wickets to spare.
Time for drowning sorrows were short-lived as the very next day Clontarf 2nd XI arrived on an overcast day that was perfect for the left-arm over seamers of Conway, who opened the bowling in Anwar’s absence. He picked up the top four wickets as Clontarf’s top order were brushed aside. At 20-4, enter Niall Delany to bowl 4 maidens in a row to compound their misery. Hoey offered little at the other end, reeling off 10 overs for 10 miserly runs. Delany ended with 7-4-7-2, with older brother Eoghan flattered somewhat by the earlier work to collect the final four wickets with his left arm spin. Clontarf dismissed for 65 in little under 40 overs, the total being knocked off for 2 wickets in the 15th over with Purshouse and Delany Snr undefeated on 26 and 15 respectively.
With exams closing in, the double weekend schedules became increasingly difficult. However, the team soldiered on to face Civil Service the following Saturday in what would ultimately be the performance of the season. Tight opening spells from Anwar and Mann went largely unrewarded, despite Anwar picking up the wicket of Darren Webster with the score on 12. Conway continued his remarkable debut season by grabbing the second wicket, that of Keith Webster, a sharp catch by captain Delany at backward point. His luck held to allow him to record superb figures of 10-2-24-4, outdone only by the seemingly ageless Hoey hustling his way through 10-2-17-2. Niall Delany, Mann and Anwar shared the remaining wickets and CS folded on 161. The DUCC reply was direct and to the point – after losing Conway for a swift 26 and Purshouse soon thereafter, Delany belted Ullah Chatha through the covers to bring up his 50 off 46 balls and end the game with Pike undefeated at the other end with a powerful 56. The partnership was unbroken on 96, the chase having taken just 25 overs.
Buoyed on by this dominant display, the team took on a confident Pembroke 2nd XI the next day. Under hot conditions, DUCC lost the toss and fielded first. The accuracy and discipline of the previous day deserted most the bowling attack, only Anwar (10-1-25-1), Hoey (10-0-38-3) and Conway (10-0-49-3) returning with reputations intact. The rest of the bowling attack suffered to the tune of 135 runs in just 20 overs as Rohit Bahl hit a boundary-laden 102 off just 82 balls. The game was never really with DUCC’s reach as wickets fell continuously, the scoreboard reading 53-5 at one stage. The Delany brothers combined to bring the score to 119 before Niall tickled one through to keeper Byers off the returning Emmett Whaley for a well-made 26. After Anwar was run out for just 13, Eoghan took the powerplay and decided to take the game to the Pembroke. Having reached his 50 off 93 balls, he reached his century off just 115 before falling as the last man out with the score on 194, having had solid support from Mann for the final wicket stand of 45. With this century, Eoghan became the joint highest century-maker for the club during his time in Trinity with 4 – 114 vs Leprechauns (2009), 102 vs DBS (2009), 102* vs UUJ (2010) and 106 vs Pembroke (2011).
With two defeats from 5, any chances of promotion were reliant entirely upon two victories from the final weekend of matches. On Saturday, against a highly-fancied Balbriggan side, the team achieved the first half of the objective by sweeping them aside by 78 runs. After initially struggling at 78-4, 40 from the bat of Purshouse, who looked in good touch until edging to first slip, Bouch was again to the rescue with a typically classy 60 that seemed to disregard the situation as he drove with confidence over the infield. He was dismissed with the score on 135 and allowed Anwar to enter the fray, ably supported by the returning vice-captain Richard Forrest. Anwar was circumspect early on, while Forrest was less so, batting with intent to reach 30 off just 28 balls before being bowled. Anwar upped the ante to run the Balbriggan fielders ragged as he reached 61* from 73 balls, the innings closing at 228-8, a good score after the initial wobbles. Any doubts about the result were cast aside as Anwar took the new ball and produced an immaculate opening spell to remove both openers. He eventually finished with 3 wickets for just 19 runs, while Conway again found himself with a three-for. Hoey was his usual self, giving very little away to collect 2-38 as Balbriggan were dismissed for a tame 150 in just over 42 overs.
The final game of the season was played under more picturesque skies against a newly-promoted Oak Hill. Anwar’s usual excellent control deserted him in an opening 14-ball over! However, that was the only hiccough in an otherwise competent bowling display, captain Delany being the chief wicket-taker with 4-17 in 6.5 before splitting his webbing taking a return catch and allowing Forrest to resume his dubious bowling career for one brief ball before dutifully removing himself from the attack. Anwar returned to his usual ways to claim 2 wickets, while Mann, Conway and Hoey each claimed one apiece. The Oak Hill total of 125 never looked in doubt, despite Pike and Conway departing the scene relatively cheaply. Purshouse found his touch and saw the team home with 54*, while Bouch finished his excellent season with a steady 34*.
The season closed with 5 wins from 7 in early May, beginning a long wait until mid-September to determine the eventual outcome. Balbriggan’s loose approach to their encounter with DUCC proved to be their undoing as their late season charge proved to be fruitless, falling just one point short of DUCC after their final fixture. The result saw DUCC returned to Division 2 for the 2012 season, much to the delight of Stu Daultrey, who will undoubtedly write with great critique and negativity for everything other than the cricket DUCC put on display. Here’s to Stu.