|European Under 23 Championship: The Netherlands, August 2008|
Ireland lose battle but win war
Ireland lost the battle but ultimately won the war, when their superior run rate clinched the European ‘A’ Championships in the Netherlands, after they finished level on points with both the hosts and Scotland.
They will be disappointed that it needed the calculators to make sure of their victory, but full credit to a Scotland side who battled throughout, and whose fielding and bowling was much superior to an at times lack lustre Ireland.
Indeed it was this wastefulness in the field which was to prove crucial, as in addition to 3 dropped catches, there were 10-15 runs conceded in overthrows. It looked very different early on as Allen Coulter of Civil Service North impressed in his first spell, removing both openers Steve Knox and Ryan Flannigan cheaply.
Richie Berrington (33), and Qasim Sheikh (23), batted with great purpose, before John Mooney got in on the act. He took 3 wickets and then caught a fourth as 71 for 2 suddenly became 83 for 6, and Scotland were reeling.
Neil Gill (1-17) bowled steadily and without much luck, having Simon Smith dropped behind. Moneeb Iqbal and Smith shared a vital 7th wicket stand, before Smith hit Andrew Balbirnie to long on, to go for 17. Iqbal then nursed the tail well, scoring an unbeaten 55 from 83 balls, as Scotland finished on 178 for 9 in their 50 overs.
In reply, Ireland took no chances early on, in the knowledge that they would win the competition once they passed 135. Kenny Carroll and James Hall dropped anchor, with the run rate well below 2 for the first 10 overs. Sean Weeraratna and Scott Redhead both bowled steadily, but without much threat initially.
The introduction of leg spinner Moneeb Iqbal provided the breakthrough, as he had Carroll (30) caught behind in his first over, with the score on 67. David Kennedy and James Hall continued the no risk approach, until Hall was run out for 48, following a mix up.
John Mooney then joined Kennedy, and finally some impetus came into the Irish play. The left hander scored 28 from 36 balls, before being caught off bat and pad, to leave Ireland still handily placed at 140 for 3 with 8 overs left.
What should have been a routine chase became anything but, as Weeraratna bowled Kennedy with an inswinging Yorker, and from then all the middle order struggled to cope with the Scottish attack, which was backed up by athletic and enthusiastic fielding.
Ryan Haire was run out for just 4, while Thinus Fourie and Andrew Balbirnie both perished in the final over attempting big hits, as Ireland finished on 170 for 7 in their allotted overs.
Scott Redhead (2-31) and Moneeb Iqbal (2-38) were the most successful of the Scottish attack.
Ireland were clear winners on run rate, with Scotland just pipping Netherlands for second.
John Mooney was named player of the tournaments, scoring 143 runs, taking 7 wickets, and also 4 catches.
European 'A' Championships
Scotland 178-9 (M Iqbal 55*, R Berrington 30, J Mooney 3-19, A Balbirnie 2-33, A Coulter 2-49) beat ireland 170-7 (J Hall 48, K Carroll 30, J Mooney 28, D Kennedy 26, S Redhead 2-31, M Iqbal 2-38) by 7 runs.