Larne seconds suffered their first league defeat of the season when they went down by 34 runs against Waringstown at Sandy Bay recently.
The visitors won the toss and, surprisingly, elected to bat first on a damp wicket. They were soon in trouble as the returning Jithin Kuriakose took a fine catch in the gully off Hood to give Larne their first wicket.
Larne’s reliable seam bowler, David Hayes, was not to be outdone by that and he took an acrobatic return catch to dismiss the other opening batsman. Hayes finished with fine figures of 1-15 from his seven overs as he cleverly reduced his pace and concentrated on cutting the ball away from the bat off the responsive pitch.
The good catching appeared infectious as the Larne captain Michael Lyle grabbed all three of the sharp chances that came his way. His second effort at square-leg removed the dangerous ex-Ireland international Garfield Harrison to leave Waringstown in difficulty at 60-5 after 18 overs.
The change bowlers were unable to keep the pressure on as McClean and Hurst turned the game with a crucial 50 partnership for the sixth Waringstown wicket.
Only some good fielding from Luke Brownlee and Andrew Beattie managed to keep the scoring rate to an acceptable level, while the off-spin of Derek McKinley also proved very effective in the tricky conditions.
With the score now at 110-5 home wicket-keeper Zach Wetherhead was forced to remove his pads and have a bowl in an attempt to break the partnership, and his lively pace did the trick and exposed the tail-end batsman.
Kuriakose finished the innings with two wickets in two balls to dismiss Waringstown for 143 in 34.3 overs and leave Larne with a decent chance of chasing down 144 from their allotted 35 overs.
In the event Larne made a valiant effort against a strong bowling attack. They kept wickets in hand but were always slightly behind the required run rate of just over four an over. Despite reaching a promising position of 73 for three in the 23rd over, Larne were unable to reach the required total as the inexperienced lower order faded away without offering much resistance.
The only batsman able to master the difficult conditions was Richard Hood, who made up for conceding 39 runs from his expensive seven overs by producing a memorably good performance with the bat. He opened the batting and anchored the run chase with an assured innings reminiscent of a veteran batsman and narrowly failed to take his side to a memorable victory.
Recent heavy rain had left the outfield being extremely slow and Hood was only able to hit two boundaries throughout his stay at the crease. Yet he manipulated the spin of Waringstown with great ease and did not appear to offer a single chance during his spell at the crease. As wickets fell regularly at the other end he picked up the pace, gathering 10 runs off the 28th over to leave Larne needing just 41 from the last 36 deliveries with three wickets left.
The seconds were unable to capitalise on this position and the young side, featuring eight under-19 players, eventually lost by 34 runs.
Hood, however, continued his remarkable run of good form and managed to reach 50 not-out before the end of the innings. With all 10 of his team-mates being dismissed this meant Hood had achieved the extremely rare achievement of carrying his bat throughout the entire Larne innings.
The match ball was kindly sponsored by the Curran Court Hotel.