Mark Adair did everything but win this Inter-provincial Cup match for Northern Knights. The Ireland international and Knights captain hit a memorable 108 but couldn’t quite see his side home as Munster Reds moved clear at the top of the table after their first home success in the competition.
Chasing the Reds’ 265 for seven — an innings interrupted four times and eventually cut short to 49 overs — Adair came to the middle at 96 for four. When he left, at 231 for nine, caught on the mid-wicket boundary by David Delany, he had faced just 78 balls and hit eight fours and six sixes.
It was virtually a one-man show after he lost Ani Chore because the next three batsmen, Neil Rock, Matthew Humphreys and Josh Manley, contributed just five runs between them. In the end, Ben White outlasted him and even hit a defiant six after he had lost his skipper but Tyrone Kane bowled him with 22 balls unused. It was that close.
Competing with Adair for the individual award was Delany, who continued his magnificent recent form with the bat to score an unbeaten 31 from 38 balls in an unbroken stand of 61 with Liam McCarthy, who was just as good with 40 not out from just 26, including two sixes.
He then bowled with extreme pace to pick up the wickets of Ross Adair, who replaced Paul Stirling as opener, and Ruhan Pretorius and was unlucky to see Mark Adair dropped on 46 at fine leg.
It was also good to see Kevin O’Brien roll back the years with 66, only his second 50 in the Cup since 2017, and his partnership with Gareth Delany of 92 started the recovery from 15 for three and 38 for four. Quite an achievement to win from there.
The draw for the second round of the Irish Cup was made during the lunch interval by Cricket Ireland president David Griffin and holders Waringstown were last out of the bowl so will start their defence with an away game against Leinster.
CIYMS, the other NCU side to receive a bye into the second round, will be at home to Newbuildings, first-round conquerors of Carrickfergus, although that was at home, while the other NCU v North West clash gives NCU a vital home advantage with Lisburn hosting Donemana.
The tie of the round, though, is in Dublin between heavyweights Merrion and Clontarf.
Irish Cup draw: The Hills v Cork County, Phoenix v North Down, Merrion v Clontarf, Lisburn v Donemana, CIYMS v Newbuildings, YMCA v Pembroke, Balbriggan v Instonians, Leinster v Waringstown. Games to be played on Sunday June 19.
National Cup: Co Kerry v Ballyspallen, Derriaghy or Ballyhuinis v Glendermott, UCC v Ballagherdreen or Co Galway, Rush v Midleton, Strabane v Railway Union, St Johnston v North County, Limerick v Cregagh, Bonds Glen v Terenure.
Mardyke: Munster Reds 265-7 (49 overs, K O’Brien 66, G Delany 63, L McCarthy 40 not out, D Delany 31 not out, F Hand 30; J Manley 3-56, M Foster 2-36, B White 1-36, M Adair 1-40) Northern Knights 246 (45.2 overs, M Adair 108, J McCollum 41, A Chore 38, J Lawlor 14, B White 13). Reds won by 199 runs (DLS).