A desperately disappointing opening day of the Northern Bank Senior Cup final ended with Limavady needing 22 runs for a first innings lead. They have four wickets left.
With Richard McDaid just warming up - he brought up his 50 with his second six, just before the first downpour of the day ended play three overs early - the Roesiders should get their lead but it has not been pretty viewing.
Brigade may have been restricted to 167 for nine, after being put into bat, but they bowled as well as they have done this season to haul themselves back into the final which could yet reach a thrilling conclusion.
Iftikhar Hussain conceded just 19 runs in his 10 overs - four of his last five were maidens - skipper Charlie Elder bowled with an accuracy which has been missing for most of the season and Gordon Cooke set up the comeback with an opening spell of 7-3-10-2.
The wickets were two of the biggest, Decker Curry, who has scored three cup final centuries, for just seven and the in-form Andrew Riddles for a single, although that leg before decision left the batsman stunned as the ball appeared to be heading well down the legside.
Hussain followed up with the wickets of Ian McGregor and Aga Sabir before a suicidal run out ended captain David Cooke’s innings and Stephen Smyth, who bowled his full quota of overs, had the dangerous Mark McDaid caught by Hussain at deep cover.
That left Limavady in the perilous straits of 82 for six in the 31st over so it was a cautious Richard McDaid and Chris Moore that were forced to dig deep and they have already added 64. The dropped catch, in the last over of the day by Nick Donnell to give a reprieve to the younger McDaid may yet prove costly although there is everything to play for on day two, which hasn’t always been the case in a North West final.
The turgid play reminded seasoned cup final watchers of the
two-day deciders in the NCU when the team batting second was happy just to get level scores at the end of the first day. Spectators are not used to such low-scoring finals - this is set to be the first for 14 years where neither have made 200 in their first innings.
After Brigade’s big four had been shot out with just 68 on the board, Elder led from the front with a patient 37 from 67 balls, and Gordon Cooke, playing totally out of character, took 25 balls to get off the mark and finished with 11 from 52 before he was run out, after an lbw appeal against him had been turned down. It summed up the plight of Brigade but the tail managed to bat out the overs and the 17 runs scored for the last two wickets could yet be their most valuable of their frustrating summer.
Scores: Brigade first innings 163-9 (C Elder 37, M Moran 25, R Wylie 23; S Dunn 3-36, R McDaid 2-39) Limavady first innings 146-6 (47 overs, R McDaid 50 not out, C Moore 27 not out, A Sabir 22, I McGregor 21; I Hussain 2-19, G Cooke 2-23).
Continues today at noon.