The Hills won the RSA Irish Senior Cup for the second time in three years on Saturday as they beat the holders Clontarf by just nine runs in a thrilling contest at a packed and sun drenched Castle Avenue.
In a match which ebbed and flowed throughout, the experience of Hills skipper Nazeer Shaukat (3-40) and Irish international Max Sorensen (3-50) proved crucial in a nail-biting finale.
Chasing 240 for victory, Clontarf lost the early wickets of Mark Collier and Colin Currie with just 18 on the board, but a solid third wicket stand of 77 between Andrew Poynter (41) and Bill Coghlan (40) brought their team right back into contention.
Both fell within the space of three balls, but Eoghan Delany (41) and Adrian D’Arcy (51) added 95 in 16 overs in an entertaining fifth wicket partnership, combining excellent running with the occasional lusty blow.
With 45 needed from 40 balls, Clontarf were once again favourites, but they kept losing wickets at crucial intervals, and three batsmen perished attempting to clear the ropes as the tension grew.
Shoukat, just as he was against North Down in the previous week’s semi-final thriller at The Green, bowled brilliantly at the death as Clontarf fell agonisingly short.
The Hills innings was dominated by a third wicket stand of 105 between man of the match Cormac McLoughlin (75) and the impressive Mike Baumgart (62).
At 207 for three with six overs remaining, they looked on course to post 260 plus, but magnificent death bowling by Zander van der Merwe (4-30) saw them lose their last seven wicket for just 32 runs to finish on 239 all out.
At that stage the momentum appeared to be with Clontarf but they couldn’t pull off a second successive cup final victory. The Hills victory continues Leinster’s domination of the competition with Waringstown’s success in 2011 breaking up a decade-long stranglehold on Ireland’s leading club tournament.