Warriors turn the tables to take title
Just a year after failing to win a match in the Newstalk Twenty20 inter-provincial Trophy, North West Warriors were yesterday crowned 2014 champions.
Andy McBrine's side did not have to take the field in the final round of matches as the Pembroke ground in Dublin failed to recover from the torrential rain of the previous 24 hours and no play was possible in either of hosts Leinster Lightning's games against the Northern Knights and the Warriors.
No-one can have any complaints about the North West receiving the cup. They were the only team to win two games – beating Lightning in Bready and the Knights in Comber – although the Leinster side were denied the chance of revenge on home soil yesterday.
It is still a remarkable turn-around for a side which lost last year's three fixtures by seven wickets, five wickets and 106 runs and only one batsman scored a half century. This season, Bready's David Rankin scored two himself, averaged 52 and was named player of the tournament at yesterday's presentation ceremony, held indoors.
The challenge now is for the Warriors to prove they can compete in the 50-over format – they have one more chance to claim a first win in that competition this season, when they meet Lightning at Strabane on Saturday week and in the three-day Championship.
That promises to be much more difficult as they have lost their first three this season and have only a home game against the Knights, at Eglinton starting on August 26, to record their first ever win over the longer distance.
Meanwhile the date has been set for the rearranged RSA Irish Senior Cup semi-finals which were abandoned on Saturday and did not have to go to bowl-outs on the day, which had to be the case according to the rules of the competition just three hours before the scheduled start of the games.
But, in an unprecedented U-turn by the Cricket Ireland Cricket Committee, they bowed to club pressure, asking for common sense to rule, and agreed to the teams having a second chance.
Both games will go ahead on Sunday August 17, just six days before the final, with the home teams on Saturday keeping the advantage so North Down, the sole surviving Ulster team, will host The Hills and in the all-Leinster clash Pembroke will entertain holders Clontarf.
It is, surely the first time – but undoubtedly not the last – that social media has forced a governing body into a climbdown as Twitter reacted en masse to the first posting, calling the decision to have a bowl-out to decide a semi-final, three weeks before the final, a farce.
Barely an hour later, Cricket Ireland announced, via Twitter, that the tournament director was consulting with all eight clubs – including the four semi-finalists in the RSA National Cup, whose games also failed to start – "to determine common sense outcome given the adverse weather".
However, Cricket Ireland insisted yesterday that they never wanted bowl-outs after Irish Cup games and it was the clubs, through their representatives, who had agreed that the semi-final ties – as well as those in the second round and quarter-finals – be decided on the original date.
The Cricket Committee, which includes the chairmen of the four provincial unions, made the regulations for this year's Irish Cup and will have the final say in next year's regulations but chairman Andy Clement has promised that all clubs will be consulted before their next meeting in September.
Indeed, Cricket Ireland Performance Director expects to go further and a questionnaire is set to be sent to clubs asking for their views on the format and viability of all competitions for next season.
One game did beat the weather yesterday and Downpatrick reached the final of the O'Neill's Ulster Shield with a two wickets win over Glendermott.
They will meet Carrickfergus in the final but that is another victim of the fixture congestion; Carrickfergus are also in the National Cup semi-final, away to Leinster side Dundrum.
Scores: O'Neill's Ulster Shield semi-final: At The Rectory, Glendermott 173 (37 overs, R Silva 40, T Moore 21, J Wheeler 3-17, M Yates 2-25, J Rea 2-25, D Mullan 2-31) Downpatrick 177-8 (37.1 overs, P Tate 76 not out, D Mullan 41, R Gill 21, C Elder 3-34, R Silva 2-20, A Johnson 2-51). Downpatrick won by 2 wickets.