Clontarf landed the Leinster Senior Cup after a 17-run victory over North County in the final at Pembroke last weekend.
Twice North County seemed to be in position to go in for the kill and secure victory of their own before the extra nous and big game experience of Clontarf proved the major difference in a titanic struggle.
Joe Morrissey’s decision to bat first had seemed to back-fire when North County reduced Clontarf to 45 for 6.
Andrew Sheridan (3-27) and Malcolm Nofal, who would finish with spectacular figures of 4-8, spearheaded the County attack, ripping through the Tarf top and middle order.
North County were well on top but the Clontarf counter-attack came from Robert Forrest and Andrew Poynter (36, with six fours). The pair put on 61 for the seventh wicket and dragged Clontarf right back into the game.
Forrest (66 off 61 balls; with eight fours and two sixes) pressed the accelerator even more when joined by Ropu Islam (35*) as the pair put on 80 in 11 overs to push Clontarf to a competitive 192/8 off their 40 overs.
Having had Clontarf six down early, there was a sense North County had let them off the hook, though it was more a case of three of Clontarf’s experienced players standing up and being counted when their side needed them.
North County were in a very strong position for a second time in the match when it came to chasing 193 in their dig.
Jamie Grassi (32) put on 59 with his captain Niall McGovern and the pair looked extremely comfortable in doing so in the opening stand.
Even when Grassi fell to the first of three outstanding catches in the deep from Waqar Azmat, there was no sense of the drama about to unfold.
McGovern (58 off 78 balls; eight fours) was playing a captain’s innings and looking comfortable at the crease but when he fell LBW to Dutt, his side were 120/3, needing just 73 in 14 overs but a wobble was about to ensue.
Clontarf sensed an opportunity and, leaning on that nous and big game temperament, they were able to turn the game firmly in their favour.
Obus Pienaar (2-36) and Dutt again contributed to four further wickets which fell for just 13 runs in five overs. The fourth of those wickets summed up the sense of calm in Clontarf and the panic in the North County side.
Ropu Islam had the simple task of running Coughlan out after both he and Ali ended up at the same end of the wicket.
County now needed 60 off 57 balls with just three wickets in hand having looked so comfortable at 100/1 at drinks. Incredibly, Clontarf had come back from a losing position for a second time and were now the clear favourites for victory.
Despite Sean Kingston hitting a stupendous six over wide mid-wicket, North County couldn’t get close enough as Andrew Poynter took a fine catch on the long-on boundary in the final over to secure a 17-run victory for Clontarf.
A thrilling game for the big crowd in attendance at Serpentine Avenue and the viewers on the live stream with plenty of impressive individual performances on a day of drama in Pembroke.