Muckamore skipper Sam Gordon decided to bat first at The Spa on Saturday. Simply to get 'runs on the board' - or whether he felt the threat of rain meant batting first would provide a DLS advantage in the case of interruptions, we don't know.

But we do know that after 10 overs the visitors were 29 for 2, so if they were ever guilty of thinking that a match against a Munster club might be a stroll in th e park, they now knew they were in a contest.

Jamie Jackson fell for 5 in the fifth over, caught Asad, bowled Kashif and Sam Gordon himself was caught behind the stumps for just a single in over number 7. So it fell to opener Jamie Magowan and Luke Allen to steady the ship; and that they did very ably until Magowan was judged LBW with 48 on the board.

Enter Ewan Wilson who supported Allen in a classy partnership that produced 59 runs; both batsmen looking settled enough to build an imposing total for Muckamore. But when Khurram had Wilson caught (by Yaqoob) for 26 there was a subtle shift in momentum.

Muckamore kept the scoreboard ticking, but never really got into top gear as they started to lose wickets. After Wilson departed, no other batter got past 20, but the constant thorn - in - the - side for Kerry was Luke Allen; who was cruelly robbed of completing an outstanding century when he fell LBW to Khurram on 97.

His innings included five 6s and seven 4s, and whether smashing or steering - it was all done with consummate composure. Towards the end of the innings Muckamore rallied enough to get up to 219, and though they would certainly have liked another 20/30 runs - they had set what looked like a pretty challenging target.

From the Kerry point of view, the bowling group felt they leaked a few too many runs from straying down leg - side too often; anyway - time to put that right with the bat!

At the start of Muckamore's innings rain clouds were covering the Slieve Mish just a kilometre or two away across Tralee Bay and threatening interruptions; but thankfully Spa stayed rain free all day, and the wise and well prepared spectator with a heavy duty brolly was able to leave it rolled up.

The Kerry reply did not start well. With the last ball of Shane Henderson's second over he castled Tabish for 10 and in the very next over Sam Gordon trapped Bilal LBW for just 7. Kerry 2 down for 22 in the fifth over. With Muckamore scenting blood, Awais Saghir and Imran Pathan combined to build one of Kerry's best partnerships of the season to date.

Awais played anchor while Imran let fly. Imran only scored 1 run off his first twelve deliveries, but then smacked 58 off the next 40 he faced; his 59 included three 4s and four 6s to boisterous cheers from the clubhouse.

Together with Awais they added 107 for the 3rd wicket before Richard Keates broke through, first dismissing Imran with the 5th ball of his third over and then Awais in his very next over. Momentum had swung again.

All too soon, Qassim(10) was also on his way back to the pavilion and Kerry needed 77 off the last 13 overs, almost exactly a run a ball.

Muckamore piled on the pressure and the RRR started to climb ominously. But Mohsin took control as Yaqoob played anchorman in a crucial 6th wicket partnership. Mohsin smashed 55 off 41 balls including two 6s and three 4s.

It looked like Kerry were cruising home until Donald Dineke struck with two wickets in two balls to dismiss both set batsmen.

Suddenly, alarm bells are ringing for Kerry, but only 2 runs required! Would the nerves be jangling too much?

Skipper Khurram Iqbal blocked two balls from Pavan Khartik, but the tension was released and victory secured as he and Asad sprinted the match-winning runs off the third ball of the 39th over.

The spectators were treated to an exciting end to a very tight match with some excellent cricket from both squads. Credit and congratulations to Kerry for holding their nerve to win through to the second round of the Irish National Cup.

Kerry beat Muckamore by 3 wickets.

Muckamore 219 - 9 (40 ov ers; Luke Allen 97, Ewan Wilson 26; Khurram Iqbal 3 - 51, Yaqoob Ali 2 - 24, Kashif Khan 2 - 44)

County Kerry 220 - 7 (38.3 overs; Imran Pathan 59, Mohsin Taj 55; Donald Dineke 2 - 17, Richard Keates 2 - 39)