Cricket: Drama as Comber battlers progress
North Down are just one match away from their first Irish Cup final for 19 years after a sensational run-chase at Coleraine.
The NCU side, who crashed to a second Premier League defeat of the season against CIYMS on Saturday, bounced back to charge past the Bannsiders' 303 for four, winning by five wickets with a comfortable eight overs to spare.
Remarkably, North Down's top four batsmen were dismissed for 44, 45, 46 and 47 and although Johnny Terrett and Andrew Sutherland put on exactly 100 for the first wicket and Nick Larkin and Ryan Haire then took the total to 217, the Comber men still needed 87 from the last 13 overs.
Enter Peter Eakin to join Taimur Khan and it was the youngster who showed why he is in the Northern Knights squad by finally showing his team-mates how to reach 50. And in a hurry.
Eakin couldn't quite see the job through but when he was out for 60, from just 39 balls with two fours and four sixes, North Down were just seven short of victory and had 19 balls to get there.
Alistair Shields hit the winning runs while Taimur, who threatened to win Saturday's game before he was run out, finished 39 not out.
In a match of 610 runs, it wasn't a day for bowlers but James Cameron-Dow, in the Ireland A team for next week's game against MCC in Malahide, took three of the four wickets to fall for just 49 runs among the mayhem which saw Niall McDonnell hit 103 and Kyllian Vardhan 84.
North Down will be hoping they are rewarded with a home tie in tomorrow's semi-final draw, otherwise they know they will be travelling to Dublin.
In two other exciting finishes, 2012 winners The Hills and Pembroke emerged victorious in the all-Leinster clashes – the latter denying Merrion a third successive appearance in the final – while holders Clontarf continued their winning run with a 163 runs victory over St Johnston.
The Donegal side felt the full force of in-form Andrew Poynter's bat. The Ireland international finished 195 not out, from 127 balls, with 24 fours and six sixes and shared a staggering unbroken stand of 296 with Colin Currie (91) in Clontarf's 315 for two.
The Saints got a small measure of revenge against Poynter, his solitary over going for 18 runs.
CIYMS are the outright leaders of the Ulster Bank Premier League. They followed up their 38 runs win on Saturday with a facile nine wickets success over helpless Muckamore. The whole game lasted only 30 overs with the home side bowled out for 56, and 40 of the runs coming from professional Carl Mickan.
Civil Service North who had co-leadership after beating Waringstown by four wickets on Saturday failed to follow-up yesterday, crashing to a 36 runs defeat at home to Lisburn.
Without Saturday's batting hero Shane Getkate (88 not out), who is playing for Northamptonshire Seconds, and Mark Adair, who has returned to Warwickshire for the rest of the summer, they could not recover from 16 for three, chasing 205, and despite 71 from Andrew Cowden were bowled out in the 46th over.
The difference between victory and defeat proved to be the last over of the Lisburn innings which Darryl Brown hit John Costain for 26.
In the North West Premiership, Eglinton made it back-to-back wins with a stunning 79 runs victory over previously unbeaten Bready.
Stuart Thompson hit 111, with 15 fours and a six out of Eglinton's 267 for eight and Richard Wylie then took the big three wickets of David Barr, David Rankin and Ernest Kemm for just 19 runs as Bready lasted only 43 overs.
Strabane are leaders with five wins out of five, their latest by seven wickets at Ardmore on Saturday, but Brigade moved into second place after the Bleachgreen side again came out second best, this time by 39 runs. Johnny Thompson top scored with 40 in Brigade's 184 before he was one of Gary Neely's five victims.
Donemana have cup hat-trick in their sights
For the first time in the competition's 126-year history, the same teams will contest the Danske Bank Cup final for the third successive year.
Donemana will attempt to make it a hat-trick of successes against Brigade at Strabane on July 18-19 after both completed straightforward semi-final victories on Saturday.
Andy McBrine, who will captain the North West Warriors this week in their inter-provincial championship game against Leinster Lightning in Malahide, led Donemana to a six wickets victory over Coleraine with a sparkling unbeaten 65, including eight fours and four sixes. He shared a stand of 78 with his dad, Junior, who while happy to take a back-seat and finish 28 not out still scored at almost a run-a-ball as the holders reached their target of 176 in only the 33rd over.
Kamran Sajjid had hurried the Bannsiders' innings to its conclusion, taking four of the last five wickets as they slumped from 150 for five to 175 all out with seven balls unused. The other was taken by William McBrine who finished with the remarkable figures of two (Killian Vardhan and David Cooke) for 13 from his 10 overs.
Mark Simpson was Brigade's four-wicket hero as Bready were restricted to 192 for nine, including the big one of David Rankin for just 15 and after an opening stand of 60 between Ian McGregor and skipper Gareth McKeegan, it proved plain sailing for the Beechgrove side.
McGregor was caught for 30 but the captain went on to top score with 56 and although Johnny Thompson and Digvijay Amarnath, run out immediately after reaching his 50, were out in quick succession, David Murdock with an unbeaten 20 saw Brigade into the final with 34 balls and five wickets to spare.