A superb unbeaten century by Middlesex County batsman Andy Balbirnie, in conjunction with 98 from Kevin O’Brien saw Leinster Lightning defeat North-West Warriors in a rain curtailed match in the first Newstalk 106-108 FM Interprovincial 50 over Trophy match of the season at The Hills ground in Skerries.
Set 286 to win the Warriors had looked on course to cause an upset when they reduced the favourites to 46 for four halfway through the thirteenth over. The three Warriors seamers, Johnny and Stuart Thompson together with Craig Young looked infinitely more threatening than their Leinster counterparts, sharing the four wickets to fall, Johnny capturing two of them. However it was the perennial saviour of lost causes, Kevin O’Brien, who joined Balbirnie and in the highest partnership since the resumption of the interpros, 187, took the game away from the North-West men. They made their runs off a mere 128 deliveries as they dispatched the bowlers to and over the boundary with Kevin striking 11 fours and 3 sixes while Andy hit 13 fours together with two maximums. The partnership was finally broken with the score on 233 in that most unfortunate of dismissals, a run out deflected off the bowler. Balbirnie had straight driven Johnny Thompson and the ball deflected of his boot unto the stumps to leave O’Brien stranded out of his ground just two short of his hundred. While Andy McBrine got a further two wickets for the addition of 10 runs, Balbirnie went on to his century and when the drizzle, which had persisted for most of the innings became heavier the players were forced off the field and led to the eventual abandonment of the match, Leinster triumphed under the Duckworth/Lewis method by 19 runs. McBrine with 2 for 50 and Johnny Thompson with 2 for 51 were the most successful bowlers as the Warriors pushed the victors all the way.
Earlier the toss was won by North-West Warriors who decided to bat first and that decision appeared justified when David Rankin and Jason Milligan put on 55 runs for the first wicket before Rankin was bowled by Eddie Richardson for 33. It could have been so different for the Lightning if skipper John Mooney had not dropped a regulation catch at first slip off the fifth ball of the match before there was a run on the board. Milligan was joined by Niall McDonnell and they brought the score to 145 before Milligan set off for a foolish second run and was caught short of the crease by a sharp return from Andy Balbirnie .He had made 61 with seven fours and when the total had reached 161 the cultured McDonnell was caught by Collins off the bowling of Balbirnie for 40 which also included seven fours.
Although Andy McBrine fell cheaply, Stuart Thompson and Johnny Thompson had a rapid fire unbeaten stand of 105 off just 83 deliveries to give the Warriors a very competitive score of 285. While Stuart finished on 60 from 63 balls it was Johnny who took the attack to the Leinster men. His 66 not out consumed a mere 47 balls and apart from 4 fours he blasted five huge sixes. He was completely unfazed by facing a bowling attack who were all full Internationals.
The three Leinster bowlers who are in the Ireland squad next week, Sorensen, O’Brien and Dockrell, bowled a combined 29 overs and conceded 150 runs without a wicket between them. Richardson took two wickets while John Mooney was relatively economical conceding thirty three off his eight overs. George Dockrell did not complete his complement of overs and never really looked threatening with his nine overs costing 45 runs.