THE Irish Universities had an excellent 78 run win over Scotland in their first game of the Hone-McGregor Tri-Series at F P Fenner’s Ground in Cambridge.

On a perfect pitch for batting, Ireland racked up 362-6 and had reduced the Scots to 95-5 before a blistering partnership threw the game wide open.

But Ireland’s best bowlers came back to halt the charge and victory was secured with 11.4 overs to spare, ensuring Ireland also claimed the Celtic Cup.

Ireland openers Hugh Pike (Trinity) and Ryan Hopkins (DCU) put on 117 for the first wicket before they were separated in the 18th over.

Both batsmen were dismissed for 57, while UCD all-rounder Tyrone Kane went one better with 58 off 42 balls. He added 79 with fellow Belfield man Barry McCarthy, who was the hammer of the Scots in the closing overs.

The Pembroke and Leinster Lightning player hit 96 off 70 balls, holing out from the last ball of the innings. He hit four sixes and seven fours in his entertaining knock.

And he was soon in action with the ball, after the opening attack of Peter Chase (DCU) and Junaid Khan (UCC) failed to make a breakthrough.

McCarthy’s opening spell of 4-2-

2-3 helped reduce the Scots to 95-5 before Chris Burns and Tom Foulds came together. They added 158 in 13.3 overs, with UCC’s Anto O’Reilly being particularly savaged – his two overs went for 19 and 33 (plus a leg bye). Ryan Hopkins solitary over went for 23 before he utilised his captain’s prerogative to take himself off.

Chase and McCarthy were called up to stem the flow and the Malahide man found the gap in Foulds defence.

McCarthy then removed Burns, who plays for NCU side Bangor, for 89, which he made off just 53 balls including six sixes.

The Pembroke and UCD man ended with 9-2-41-5, making the man of the match award a formality.

Ireland play Cambridge University on Wednesday to decide the winners of the inaugural trophy after both have beaten Scotland.

The Hone-McGregor trophy is named after the first Irishman (Nathaniel Hone) and Scot (Gregor McGregor) to win Blues for the English university.

Nat Hone played nine times for Ireland between 1868-84, scoring 87 against MCC at Lord’s. He also played for St Columba’s and Phoenix, and later set up a bookmakers firm.

IRISH UNIVERSITIES 362-6 (50 overs; B J McCarthy 96, T E Kane 58, H A C Pike 57, R Hopkins 57, R J Forrest 29no)

SCOTTISH STUDENTS 284 all out (38.2 overs; C Burns 89, T Foulds 83, B J McCarthy 5-41, P Chase 2-43) ·

* IRISH UNIVERSITIES won by 78 runs