‘Byrney provided the best moment in my career. It was the ball of the decade’

Paul Byrne picks up the last wicket to win Staffordshire the 2014 Championship title.

In the days building up to the 2014 Minor Counties Championship final, Staffordshire captain Paul Goodwin announced that the showpiece would be his last county game.

Goodwin would step out for the 76th time representing Staffordshire in the long format at Salisbury against Wiltshire – with the national title on the line.

The wicketkeeper-batsman had already guided Staffs to the Eastern Division crown that summer – the first time they had topped the standings for 16 years.

So beating Western Division champions Wiltshire in the four-day final would be the icing on the cake and a fitting finale for Goodwin’s stellar service.

Goodwin played out the match in his head in the run up to the fixture. He was wondering who would be the county hero to help him to seal a dream finish. It turned out to be spinner Paul Byrne.

Byrne himself has announced his retirement from Staffordshire duty, playing his final match this week in the Division One East defeat by Suffolk at Checkley.

Goodwin says will be forever grateful to the slow left-armer for the memorable finish at Wiltshire… when he also had the best view in the house behind the stumps.

Wiltshire had been set 251 to win and had managed to recover from 57-5 thanks to Michael Coles’ excellent 87.

Coles was still in residence with the score on 222-9 and looking like he might single-handedly scupper Goodwin and Staffordshire’s hopes of being national champions.

Byrne, though, twirled in for the penultimate ball of his 24th over and managed to sneak a delivery through Coles’ defences to knock back the leg stump, finish with figures of 4-44, and seal victory for Staffs.

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Pictured: Paul Byrne bowls Wiltshire’s Michael Coles to secure the 2014 Championship title for Staffordshire.