Narrow loss is 'Tarf to take for County
North County's hopes of finishing top of the Championship were dented as they lost by the narrowest of margins - a single run - to Clontarf in Saturday's rain affected game at The Inch which was decided by the Duckworth/Lewis method.
The Balrothery side came into this fixture in second place just two points behind leaders Clontarf and were looking to draw level with their rivals by winning their fourth game in a row in the Championship.
They knew that Clontarf - with just one defeat all season - would be a tough nut to crack, however.
North County lost the toss and were put into bat as the grey skies began to gather around Balrothery.
Niall McGovern and Yassar Cook opened for the hosts, but Clontarf broke up that partnership early on when Michael Granger claimed the first of his five wickets with an in-swinger that caught out Cook.
Granger got two more wickets in quick succession as Andrew Sheridan went for a duck before McGovern became victim number three, having scored just twelve.
That left North County struggling on 19/3, and although they recovered to reach 47 without further loss they were dealt a hammer blow as Jonathan Andrews and Ryan Tobin were both dismissed in the same over to leave the hosts floundering on 47/5.
Eddie Richardson has got his side out of some deep holes in the past and he was their saviour once again as he rattled off a quickfire fifty to get his side back into the match. Richardson was well supported by Sean Rooney who also made his fifty as County roared past the 150 mark and back into the game.
Richardson's innings ended in the 41st over when he was on 82, with Kevin Prior claiming the crucial wicket for Clontarf to stop the home side's momentum.
Granger cleaned up the North County tail-enders with the minimum of fuss as he finished with impressive figures of 5/35 in his nine overs.
Best for North County were Richardson with 82 and Sean Rooney with 61 not out, with those two scores forming the majority of the home side's total of 197.
Clontarf's response was impressive, with Robert Forrest and Bill Coghlan proving tough nuts to crack as Eddie Richardson and Dhram Singh struggled to make a breakthrough.
Richardson finally gave North County something to cheer about in the 23rd over as he trapped Forrest lbw, with the Clontarf man on 70.
Eoghan Delany came in and picked up where Forrest left off as Clontarf moved to within fifty runs of their total.
Following a spell of rain Clontarf's overs were reduced to 45, with a revised total of 180 for them to chase.
Delany and Coghlan guided the visitors past that total to claim victory and put a dent in North County's title hopes.
North County: Niall McGovern, Yassar Cook, Andrew Sheridan, Eddie Richardson, Jonathan Andrews, Ryan Tobin, Sean Rooney, Dhram Singh, Owen Graham, Callum Polo, Sean Sludds.