Belfast Telegraph

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Cricket: Botha shines as North County cop cup again

By Ian Callender

Andre Botha brought his international form for Ireland onto the club stage yesterday to ensure North County's love affair with the Bob Kerr Irish Senior Cup continued

The Balrorthery side have been in the final every other year since 2001 and after beating The Hills by 105 runs at Castle Avenue, they have now won them all, also becoming the first team to win the trophy four times.

Botha, whose last two innings for Ireland were 186 and, on this ground just nine days ago, 122, was again the class act in two formidable batting line-ups and top scored with 84 as North County, after winning the toss, made 259 for eight.

It was by no means an invincible total against a team which was averaging a remarkable 171 runs per wicket in the competition this year. But the top order was ripped apart by Botha who did what he didn't do for Ireland last week and bowled through the pain of his injured heel.

It was the 13th over which proved fatal for The Hills as Botha took the first hat-trick in an Irish Cup final with the wickets of Paddy Byrne, Ajaz Farooqi and Michael O'Herlihy.

Byrn was brilliantly caught low down at first slip by John Mooney, next ball Farooqi's off stump was broken as it cartwheeled backwards and then O'Herlihy was trapped in front to give 32-year old Botha the first three-in-a-row of his career.

With Ireland team-mate Jeremy Bray already back in the pavilion, bowed by A-international Reinhardt Strydom for nine in only the fourth over, The Hills had lost as many wickets in 13 overs as they had done in 75 getting to their first all-Ireland final.

But with the pitch seaming and increasingly taking turn, the 62 runs equally shared by John and Paul Mooney - John's from only 26 balls - proved almost as decisive as Botha innings. Together it was too much for the cup final debutantes as experience and more than a touch of class won the day.

At Castle Avenue, North County beat The Hills by 105 runs.

North County 259-8 (50 overs, A Botha 84, C Armstrong 41, P Mooney 31, J Mooney 31; Matt Dwyer 2-44, J Bray 2-52) The Hills 154 (B Archer 52, Mark Dwyer 36, P Byrne 24; R Lawrence 5-38, A Botha 3-31).

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