Brigade banish league woes to set up all-North West decider
Brigade, the pre-season favourites to lift the North West Premiership title, may be in the bottom half of the table but there is no stopping them in the O'Neill's Ulster Cup.
A third consecutive victory in the NCU has taken them into the final on August 21 when they will meet Ardmore at Bready in the first all-North West decider for eight years.
After winning at Instonians and Civil Service North, holders North Down were Brigade's semi-final victims yesterday as their bowlers defended an imposing 239 for three with 21 runs to spare after David Barr, Gareth McKeegan and Danza Hyatt had all scored big half centuries.
Hyatt then turned the game with the prize wicket of professional Pieter Malan for 104.
While Malan was in the middle North Down were winning, but when he hit a full toss to Brigade skipper Andy Britton the home side were left requiring 54 from the last six overs. It proved too much and Britton returned to finish the match with two wickets in the 39th over.
Brigade's batting on a good Comber pitch was particularly impressive with Barr and McKeegan putting on 125 for the first wicket in 28 overs and Hyatt then dominated the rest of the innings scoring 67 from 36 balls with five fours and three sixes.
For Ardmore, it is a first inter-union final since 2005 and they will not care a jot that they have had to win only one match on the field - against Derriaghy - to reach the final
By contrast, it was a second semi-final exit for Waringstown in successive days. Comfortably beaten by Civil Service North on Saturday, their trip to Ardmore ended in the nightmare scenario of a bowl-out as the rain-sodden pitches of the North West failed to serve up a top flight match all weekend. Waringstown lost 3-1.
Captain Gary Neely, Decker Curry and Conor Brolly were all on target with Ardmore's first three deliveries and James Hall's solitary successful hit was not enough for the Villagers.
O'Neill's Ulster Cup semi-finals
At The Green, Brigade 239-3 (40 overs, D Barr 84, G McKeegan 75, D Hyatt 67 not out) North Down 218 (39 overs, P Malan 104, N Burns 37, D Graham 23; D Hyatt 3-12, A Britton 3-31, N Donnell 3-32). Brigade won by 21 runs
At The Bleachgreen, no play.
Ardmore beat Waringstown 3-1 in a bowl-out