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On This Day... cricket history is made at Eglinton

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First class: Andy McBrine and James Shannon with umpires at Eglinton in 2017

First class: Andy McBrine and James Shannon with umpires at Eglinton in 2017

�INPHO/Presseye/Lorcan Doherty

First class: Andy McBrine and James Shannon with umpires at Eglinton in 2017

The great and the good of Irish cricket were present at Eglinton on May 30, 2017, for a landmark occasion in its long, illustrious history.

It had been a long time coming - 115 years, to be precise - after the Gentlemen of Ireland had played their maiden first-class fixture against London County, a domestic game was, finally, awarded first-class status.

The three-day Inter-provincial Championship was starting its fifth season, but this year the six matches would go into the record books, alongside Test matches and the English County Championship.

It wasn't coincidence that three weeks later Ireland were awarded Test match and Full Member status by ICC but this day all roads led to Eglinton for North West Warriors v Northern Knights.

Andy McBrine and James Shannon were the captains and although both had already made their first-class debuts for Ireland, they knew this match was special. A BBC television crew turned up to film the toss - that was certainly unusual - but everyone, including Cricket Ireland chief executive Warren Deutrom, had to wait as morning rain delayed the start to after lunch.

"It was an honour to represent your province in a first-class game," recalls McBrine. "I actually don't remember the toss but I must have won it because it was a useful toss to win and a bowler-friendly pitch."

Within 38 overs, the Knights had been bowled out for 130 with Shannon providing the only resistance, batting an hour and three quarters for 71; the next top score was 11.

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The Warriors' bowling hero was another international, Craig Young, who took a wicket in the first over of the match and finished with his first five-wicket haul in first-class cricket.

But it was Young's batting, in the Warriors' first innings, which his team-mates have not been allowed to forget.

"We ground out a lead of 37," adds McBrine, "and Youngy hit a six into the trees off Rob McKinley near the end and he still goes on about it."

The Knights had three overs batting before lunch on that second day which they negotiated safely but when McBrine threw the ball to Davy Scanlon, the Bready captain proved virtually unplayable.

In the space of 44 balls, the Knights slumped from 13-0 to 19-5 and after Young had made the breakthrough, Scanlon took the next four wickets with Greg Thompson denying him the first hat-trick in a first-class match in Ireland.

"Davy has been brilliant for us in the last three-four years," says his Warriors skipper. "He made his three-day debut against the Knights at Bready in 2016 and took six wickets in the first innings and, obviously, kept his place. He was also our assistant coach at the time and as well as being brilliant on the field, he was very good in the changing room as well."

Scanlon, on his first-class debut, finished with 5-29 and despite McKinley's defiant 43 from No 9 in the order, Warriors needed only 125 to win only their second Championship game.

"We were well placed at the end of day two on 48-2 and nine times out of 10 the batting team would get the runs, one good stand of 40-50 would have killed the game," said McBrine.

But the game would end, as it began, with the players watching the rain.

"The groundsman worked on the ground really hard to get us out but it rained from when we got there to five o'clock," he said.

Warriors had another near miss in the return match that season at Comber when they were two wickets from victory but an innings defeat to champions Leinster Lightning left them bottom of the table.

For 12 players, though, that day at Eglinton was their first-class debut, including the Knights' Shane Getkate.

"It was a good feeling involved in making history. To get first-class status was a great effort by Cricket Ireland," he said. "It gives you a bit more profile getting a first-class wicket."

Scores: Knights 130 (J Shannon 71; C Young 5-37, S Thompson 3-32) and 161 (R McKinley 43 not out, G Thompson 37, S Getkate 35; D Scanlon 5-29, A Gillespie 2-12, C Young 2-29) NW Warriors 167 (N McDonnell 30, A McBrine 30, R Allen 24 not out, C Young 23; Nat Smith 4-34, Nik Smith 2-25, S Getkate 2-35) and 48-2 (I Butt 23; I Samarasooriya 20 not out). Match drawn.

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