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Cricket: Ulster Cup shelved due to lack of sponsor

By Ian Callender

The North West have pulled the plug on this year's Ulster Cup because there is no sponsor.

The competition, due to have been held in the North West on August 6, would have involved Waringstown and North Down, the two NCU T20 finalists, and their equivalent in the North West, Bready and Brigade, who meet in the Faughan Valley Cup final on Sunday.

But the money from O'Neills, who have been the long-term sponsors of the competition - well before it became a T20 tournament last season - has been, according to a North West spokesman, "diverted to other resources" by Cricket Ireland and, as the hosts this year, the North West union decided they could not afford to run the competition.

North West clubs won four of the last five editions of the 40-over competition but Waringstown beat Bready in the first T20 final last season at Comber before going on to lose in the final of the All-Ireland Twenty20 to Clontarf.

All-Ireland T20 finals day will take place again this year between the four provincial winners, ironically in the North West - paid for by Cricket Ireland - on Saturday, August 18.

The weather played havoc with last Sunday's action when the National Cup quarter-finals and Ulster Plate semi-finals were due to take place.

The all-North West clash in the National Cup between St Johnston and Ballyspallen was one of the casualties and will now be played this Sunday, but while Drummond were rewarded for the trip to Rush with a game, they were beaten by six wickets.

Drummond, batting first, lost their first three wickets with just two runs on the board and were 56-5 before recovering to total 157, with Stevie Moore top scoring with 30.

After a weather interruption, Rush were set 141 in 35 overs.

That proved no problem for the tournament favourites, who knocked off the runs inside 20 overs despite Simon Dunn taking 3-20, with Northern Knights wicket-keeper Neil Rock scoring 51 not out from 23 balls with eight fours and two sixes.

Co Galway beat Co Kerry by eight wickets in the other match played, with Limerick set to host Knockharley in the other rearranged quarter-final on Sunday.

In the Ulster Plate, Bready II travelled to Muckamore II but came out on the wrong end of a bowl-out, losing 2-0 - Pavan Karthik and Shane Henderson were the successful bowlers - while the other semi between Ardmore II and Donemana II has been rearranged for this Sunday following a bereavement.

The first of the NCU's Lagan Valley Steels Twenty20 finals takes place tomorrow night between Templepatrick and BISC at The Cloughan, Ballyclare (6pm).

The T20 finals day, when Holywood play Downpatrick and Waringstown face North Down, will be played at The Lawn, confirmed for Sunday week.

Belfast Telegraph

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