29 August 2007

The eagerly awaited final of the Bob Kerr Irish Senior Cup takes place on Friday August 31 at Clontarf Cricket Club, with a starting time of 11am.

The two protagonists are no strangers to each other, with both North County and The Hills hailing from the Fingal region of North Dublin .
North County will be attempting to win the cup for a fourth time, having won the competition previously in 2001, 2003, and 2005. Does skipper Dara Armstrong believe that this justifies the favourites tag?
“I suppose the fact that we’ve won it 3 times gives us what might be perceived as a slight edge, but as with any sport, in a local derby the form book can often go out the window. I’m really looking forward to the tussle with The Hills. We both know each other’s game inside out, but that won’t make it any less exciting.”
“In fact there’s more at stake in view of the fact of the local rivalry element to the game. There’s a great buzz around the area at the minute, and the anticipation is building, with everyone talking about it.”
Six of the squad played in the 2001 win over Cliftonville, and Armstrong believes they have become even stronger over the intervening years, “The current side is probably stronger than we were in 2001. Reinhardt Strydom, the current Ireland ‘A’ international is a great addition, and he is a real match winner. Andre Botha has been in superb form over the past few weeks for Ireland , and hopefully he will save some of his runs for next week.”
“As well as the experienced players in our ranks, with the Mooney brothers (John incidentally has won two Man of the Match awards in past finals), we have a number of promising youngsters in our ranks, and without giving too much away about the composition of our side, I expect them to play a major role.”
“We haven’t, like many clubs, played much cricket over the past 6 weeks, so hopefully the weather will be kind, and we’ll be able to put on a real spectacle for the fans.”
The Hills captain Joe Clinton is equally buoyant about the prospect of facing their neighbours in the showpiece, “The whole area is looking forward to the game, with ‘bragging rights’ at stake. The players know how much this game means to the supporters and we’ll be trying our best to lift the trophy.”
“This is our first final, so we’ll probably start in many people’s eyes as slight underdogs. However our track record against them in big games is pretty impressive – we beat them in the Leinster Cup Final last year, and knocked them out in 2005 as well. While they have probably dominated our league encounters, we have shown we can lift our game on the big occasions, and have what it takes to beat them.”
“Our top order are all in great form and scoring heavily – indeed on our way to the final, we’ve lost only 4 wickets in the 4 matches, which must be a record. Jeremy Bray, Patrick Byrne and Barry Archer are all experienced campaigners, and they should get us off to a fine start. We have plenty of players capable of supporting them, and I’m confident we can post a good score.”
“On the bowling front we have an excellent balanced attack, with plenty of variety. Luke Clinton, Nadeem Akhtar, myself, and the father and son combination of Matt and Mark Dwyer, as well as Jeremy Bray mean we are well covered.”
48 year old Matt Dwyer, capped 51 times for Ireland , has been an injury concern, but Clinton is hopeful he’ll be fit in time, “Matt has been struggling with a calf strain in recent weeks, but I’m expecting him to play. I feel that he and Mark, who gives the ball a ‘real rip’, will be major players for us on the Clontarf wicket, which traditionally helps the slower bowlers.”
“I can’t wait for the final – I expect a huge crowd for the derby game. I suspect it’ll be a case of whoever is last out in either Skerries or Balbriggan, to turn out the lights!”
The 2007 Cup has been named in honour of the late President and Chairman of the Irish Cricket Union, Bob Kerr, who died suddenly this year while supporting Ireland during the World Cup in Jamaica .
Irish Cricket Union  President Tom Prior said, "Bob Kerr was a great supporter of the Irish Senior Cup and I believe it is very appropriate that his name will now be commemorated in such a manner. It should be a great occasion, and I wish both teams all the very best.”
Hope Kerr said, "Bob was a real enthusiast for cricket, and the All-Ireland dimension of the game was particularly important to him. For that reason I am very pleased to give his name to this Senior All-Ireland Trophy.”

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