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North County cricketers survive Rush scare to book spot in National Cup Final

NATIONAL CUP S-FINAL

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North County skipper Eddie Richardson helped steer his team to victory in the National Cup semi-final against Rush.

North County skipper Eddie Richardson helped steer his team to victory in the National Cup semi-final against Rush.

North County skipper Eddie Richardson helped steer his team to victory in the National Cup semi-final against Rush.

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North County will face Terenure in the National Cup Final on August 28th after a two-wicket victory over Rush on Sunday evening at Kenure.

It was the visitors who won the toss and elected to bowl. Rush set a target of 229/9, but with just 1.1 overs left Usman Azhar held his nerve to hit a single and secure the win.

It was a frenetic end to the fixture as the two previous balls had seen Rush grab two wickets, Allan Eastwood taking a quick brace to set up a grandstand finish, but it just wasn’t enough.

After a shaky start, Noel Rock held the middle order as Rush were well on their way to set a formidable total.

It was County’s top order who set the tone for the chase, but a bottom order collapse almost saw Rush steal the win.

Abdul Ghaffar took two of the opening three wickets as Rush floundered early on, but Rock - coming in at four - really settled the batting. He would ultimately finish with 73 from 76 deliveries.

Indeed himself and Jarred Barnes sat in for a fruitful fourth-wicket partnership of 63.

Malcolm Nofal eventually brought Barnes’ innings to an end, though, trapping the batsman lbw in the 20th over to leave Rush on 87/4.

Rush appeared to be putting together another big partnership, with Rock and Andrew Doheny ticking along nicely, but with the partnership at 27 runs Sean Sludds produced the first of two catches to break up the duo.

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Rock was becoming the key man as the experienced batsman patiently sat in and picked his shots. Combining with Aaron Mcguire, Rock was involved in a second high-scoring partnership before Eddie Richardson put paid to his involvement.

The run rate ratcheted up, and coming in at nine Alex Neary hit a fast 26 runs from 22 deliveries.

Niall McGovern’s afternoon was ended early as he managed just two runs from nine balls faced, but a second-wicket partnership totalling 89 runs swung the balance in County’s favour.

Jamie Grassi and Malcolm Nofal raced to 91 before the overseas player was caught by Barnes.

Playing a proper captain’s role, Richardson stepped into the crease and he and Grassi hit 111 runs between them, with Richardson finishing with 66 from 56 deliveries.

But while County looked comfortable at 213/4 they then suffered a massive collapse, losing their next three wickets for just 16 runs, leaving them just shy of the total required.

Former Irish International John Mooney managed just one run before he was caught and bowled and Eastwood took four wickets in quick succession to leave County shocked, but Azhar eventually got them over the line.

Rush will have to wait until August 20th to try and gain some revenge over North County as that is their next scheduled meeting in the league.

Having won the competition three times in four years, Rush’s wait for a first National Cup since 2018 will go onto next year.

The Kenure side return to Championship league action with a trip to Terenure on Saturday, while County face an away match Railway Union.


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