Knights deck Warriors as Lightning strike for title hat-trick
The Northern Knights ended the Twenty20 inter-provincial series on a winning note to deny the North West Warriors any chance of lifting the trophy, but in the end it didn't matter as Leinster Lightning made no mistake in Cork to make it three titles in a row.
Lightning dismissed the Munster Reds for 119 and needed less than 14 overs to claim a five wickets victory to ensure they could not be caught at the top of the table.
The action at Belmont was slower but, ultimately, just as predictable as Warriors' total of 123 never threatened to be enough to force victory and although the Knights had to wait until the last over to reach their target, the win was never in doubt.
James Shannon once again led from the front, a second successive half century setting up the victory and while his 62 from 43 balls was not as fast as his innings in their previous T20 against the Reds at Carrick, it was a much slower pitch and damp outfield after rain threatened to delay the start.
The skipper was dismissed 14 runs from the winning post but a six from Greg Thompson made sure.
The Warriors innings started promisingly enough with 41 coming in the powerplay, but David Rankin chopped on from the last ball of the sixth over, and it lost its way thereafter.
David Barr's 41 used up 48 balls and included only one boundary while even Johnny Thompson faced 11 balls for five before he holed out in the penultimate over.
Stuart Thompson stayed to the end of the innings but it needed skipper Andy McBrine to hit 13 off the last over just to give the Knights a target of more than a run-a-ball.
David Scanlon struck with his second ball to dismiss Nikolai Smith but newcomers John Matchett, with five boundaries in his 21, and then Adam Berry, not so convincingly, stayed with Shannon until the 100 came up in the 16th over, which was actually only six balls quicker than the Warriors who gave a debut to Fox Lodge slow bowler Aaron Heywood.
Four of the players involved will be back in T20 action tomorrow at Ulster Cup finals day with Greg Thompson and Gary Kidd, the most impressive Knights bowler, playing for Waringstown in their semi-final against Coleraine at Saintfield (11am) and Rankin and Scanlon for Bready against North Down at Comber (11.30am), which will also host the final (4.00pm).
Meanwhile, reports from Zimbabwe yesterday claim they have been awarded the 2019 World Cup qualifying tournament.
ICC chairman Shashank Manohar is on a five-day visit and the country's Minister of Sport said they would host the tournament next summer, although dates have still to be confirmed.
The announcement would confirm that Ireland's bid to host the 37-day tournament has failed.
The Mardyke: Munster Reds 118 (19.2 overs, S Grobler 36, J Tector 26; J Little 3-17, G Delany 2-9, T Kane 2-16, S Singh 2-26) Leinster Lightning 120-5 (13.4 overs, G Delany 40, S Doheny 33; Yaqoob Ali 3-25, G King 2-23). Lightning (5 pts) beat Reds (0 pts) by 5 wickets
Belmont: North West Warriors 123-4 (20 overs, D Barr 41, S Thompson 27 not out, D Rankin 23; G Kidd 2-19) Northern Knights 124-4 (19.1 overs, J Shannon 62, A Berry 24; A McBrine 2-24). Knights (4pts) beat Warriors (0 pts) by 6 wickets.