THE great mathematician Albert Einstein might have had trouble working out all the permutations had he been alive today, but North County eventually secured their top-flight status in the Leinster League by the skin of their teeth.
The Balrothery side had to score either 21 points more than Clontarf or 17 more than Merrion - who were playing each other - on the final day of the season last Saturday to avoid a first drop to Division 2 since 2000. And there isn't room on this page to explain what would have happened if two of the three relegation candidates had finished on the same number of points! Just to add to the intrigue of it all, North County were playing their great Fingal rivals The Hills, the newly crowned Irish Senior Cup champions. Whether or not the Skerries men were suffering from the effects of the previous week's celebrations is hard to gauge, but North County were up for this match big time and after winning the toss they decimated their neighbours' batting line-up, with the two Richardsons sharing eight wickets between them. At one stage The Hills were 25-5, and despite a rally of sorts - led by ever-reliable skipper Nazeer Shoukat and Mike Baumgart - they were eventually bowled out for just 79. Eddie Richardson, who opened the attack, was almost unplayable and returned the impressive figures of 4-7 off 7.5 overs. It was soon apparent that there was going to be no fightback from The Hills as openers Sheil and Conor Armstrong steered North County to victory inside 15 overs and without loss, the latter making exactly 50 off just 48 balls. But the County players then faced a nervous couple of hours while Merrion and Clontarf battled for supremacy at Anglesea Road, not knowing whether the outcome would favour them or not. In the end Merrion proved victorious and Clontarf didn't pick up enough losing bonus points, ensuring they joined already doomed Terenure in Division 2 and County survived. So close was the league table that Merrion ended up in third place out of the eight competing teams, with The Hills finishing in fifth place.