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Skipper Britton is backing Brigade to fire

 

By Ian Callender

The Bank of Ireland Senior Cup final between Brigade and Eglinton, which gets under way at Bready today (12pm), seems to have come at the perfect time for the Beechgrove side.

A run of four successive league defeats in June was ended by a last-gasp two-wicket win over Coleraine and they haven't looked back since. Denied by rain against Ardmore, they recorded a stunning six-wicket win over Donemana and last Sunday, skipper Andy Britton picked up the Faughan Valley (T20) Cup after the final with Bready.

The game that turned their season, though, came on the first day of July, the Senior Cup semi-final against Donemana, who hadn't lost in the competition for seven years. Having posted 288-8, the holders looked to be on course to beat long-defunct Clooney's 107-year-old record of six successive Senior Cup wins.

But with 76 from David Barr leading the way, Brigade reached their target with two overs to spare, Niall McDonnell and Jonny Robinson's unbeaten seventh-wicket stand of 50 taking them into their first two-day final since 2014.

It is recent form which has probably promoted Brigade, who invariably win four-innings matches, to favourites, but Britton knows everyone must click against a talented Eglinton side, who, having already completed the league double over champions Donemana this season, have proven they can beat anyone on their day.

"They only need a couple of players to come off on the day, and they have the players, Stuart Thompson, the pro (Mike Erlank) and Ross Allen," said Britton. "But we have plenty of players capable of producing.

"Our batting let us down in the early part of the season but our bowling has been consistent. We also have Mark Simpson back (for his eighth Senior Cup final) and taking two or three wickets every game, and after me and him, we have Ryan Macbeth, Johnny Thompson and the two spinners (Ifti Hussain and Robinson), so we have a plan and still have Davy Barr as our back-up bowler."

Eglinton captain Thompson, however, believes his side can match Brigade over the two days.

"We lost to Brigade on the first day of the season in a close match and although our batting is top heavy, Andy Millar and Karl O'Doherty have scored runs in the last couple of matches and in Ross, Lee Ritchie, Andy and Jamie Millar and Richard Wylie we have a very good bowling attack," he said.

Thompson will be the main man, and if the Ireland Test player fires with bat and ball, it could be a classic Cup final.

Squads: Brigade: A Britton, G McKeegan, D Barr, I Hussain, J Thompson, D Murdock, N McDonnell, J Robinson, R Macbeth, M Simpson, K Magee, N Donnell, C Dixon.

Eglinton: S Thompson, M Erlank, A Millar, J Millar, R Wylie, L Ritchie, S Olphert, K O'Doherty, R Allen, C Pierce, A Pierce, T Orr, R Millar.

Weekend fixtures (12pm): Tomorrow: Sam Jeffrey Shield semi-finals: Glendermott v Bonds Glen. Sunday: Ballyspallen v Killyclooney. Women's inter-provincial: North West v NCU (Bready, top pitch).

Sunday: Long's SuperValu Premiership: Bready v Donemana, Coleraine v Ardmore, Strabane v Fox Lodge.

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