Brigade completed the semi-final line-up for the All-Ireland T20 Cup semi-finals yesterday with a thrilling last ball victory in the Faughan Valley Cup Final at Eglinton.
Ryan Barr was the Brigade hero when, needing three to win the Cup, he drove Mark Averill over the cover boundary and sparked wild celebrations from the visiting players.
With the Zimbabwe tour to Ireland being delayed, there is still uncertainty when the All-Ireland competition will be held but Brigade can put that on the back burner for now and enjoy the first trophy of the season in the North West.
Eglinton, batting first, had made 160 for five in their 20 overs but that was almost entirely due to Andy Millar who batted through the innings, while wickets fell around him. Indeed, they slumped to 67 for four with Craig Averill, Jamie Millar, Richard Wylie and Mark Averill contributing just 17 runs between them.
Andy Millar’s first reliable partner was Tommy Orr and together they added 69 in eight overs for the fifth wicket before Orr was run out for 39 by Ryan Barr, his first significant act of the day.
When the innings finished, Millar was 76 not out, from 61 balls with five fours and four sixes but a special mention must go to Brigade’s slow left armer Ross Allen who took two wickets for just six runs in his four overs.
Brigade’s reply was more cautious than their hosts, fearful of losing wickets, and by halfway were 58 for two, but David Barr and Ifti Hussain had already added 25 for the third wicket.
The partnership would end with the total on 99, but not before David Barr brought up his 50 from 33 balls. It left Brigade needing 62 from the last six overs and despite losing four more wickets, including Hussain for 51, from 35 balls, with three sixes, the run-rate was maintained and they started the last over needing nine to win with Ryan Barr, David’s brother, and Ryan Macbeth at the wicket.
Macbeth was run out off the third ball and either side of it they could only score off two balls, although a wide and a leg bye took the total to 158 for eight with one ball remaining. The stage was set for Ryan Barr.
Brigade will meet NCU T20 winners Carrickfergus in the All-Ireland semi-final on a date to be confirmed with Cork Harlequins facing Merrion, who won the Leinster T20 on Saturday, beating last year’s winners YMCA, in the other semi-final.
It completed a satisfactory if not entirely successful weekend for Brigade who almost did not get the chance to defend their Premiership title.
They lost their final Group A match to Fox Lodge on Saturday by 16 runs and if Bonds Glen had beaten Bready at Magheramason, it would have been the Bee Gees who would have finished fourth and demoted Brigade to contest the Championship.
However, Bready ended Bonds Glen recent run of impressive wins with an emphatic eight wicket victory – their seventh win out of seven in the league - with David Rankin and Irosh Samarasooriya both scoring 70s and Brigade and Fox Lodge could both celebrate at Beechgrove.
Ardmore were the other Premiership ‘qualifiers’ from Group A while Newbuildings topped Group B from Eglinton, Donemana and Coleraine.
The Bannsiders were handed the fourth place by Burndennett who forfeited their winner-take-all match with Coleraine after the game was abandoned when Burndennett opening batsman Eddie McGettigan collapsed after scoring 76. He was taken to hospital suffering from sunstroke.
But the good news is that he was allowed home yesterday.
SCORES: Eglinton 160/5 (A Millar 76 not out, T Orr 39; R Allen 2-6, I Hussain 2-31) Brigade 164/8 (I Hussain 51, D Barr 50; R Wylie 2-19, R Millar 2-25). Brigade won by 2 wickets.