The dream of an all- North West final in the Bob Kerr Irish Senior Cup was ended at a damp and dreary Rathmines on Saturday evening when Messrs Duckworth and Lewis combined to put an end to Limavady's hopes of reaching this year's decider.
The Roesiders had been asked to chase their hosts' respectable total of 212 for 7 and thanks to a fine half century from Ian McGregor had made good, if steady inroads before the wet stuff was to take its toll. Earlier, Mark Jones had top scored for Leinster with 42 and there was support from Conor Mallon who made 36 and Anton Scholtz with 34.
David Cooke kept faith with his five main bowlers, Des Curry, Simon Dunn and Chris Moore picking up a wicket each for 31, 32 and 33 runs respectively whilst Andrew Riddles and Ricky McDaid claimed two apiece at a slightly higher cost.
The visitors got off to a solid enough start in their reply before Decker Curry was adjudged leg before to give Carlos Brathwaite the first of his four victims. The Limavady opener was clearly less than impressed with his verdict but it was to get even worse soon after when skipper Cooke fell to the same bowler to leave his side 42 for 2. Ian McGregor was in determined mood and he and Richard McDaid took the score to 86 before the latter went off the bowling of Scholtz for 14 to be replaced by his brother Mark, before a rain interruption sent the players off for shelter.
When play resumed the batting side were set a revised target of 191 in 43 overs and the fact that rain was about would surely have meant that the Roesiders now had to think about a sustained attack. McGregor reached his fifty in the 30th over as Limavady moved to 109 for 3 but the North West side were still cutting it very fine if the rain was to return. Several quick wickets then fell as the visitors realised the gravity of the situation but unfortunately for them the inevitable happened in the 36th over with the score on 143 for 6.
The umpires decided that a result would be deemed at 7.30 if play hadn't restarted and it was a dejected 'away' dressing room that had to accept defeat by 8 runs on Duckworth Lewis. It may have been a horrible way to lose a semi final given the strength of Limavady's lower order and the fact that overseas professional Brathwaite had bowled all bar one of his allotted overs but in the cold light of day David Cooke's side will feel that a bit more urgency would probably have been enough.
Leinster will now take on Donemana after Azhar Shaffique's men made it through to their second successive decider when they accounted for Pembroke at The Holm. The visitors batted first in front of a massive, partisan crowd at the Tyrone venue, Brian O'Rourke and Andrew Balbirnie getting them off to a decent start before they were dealt a double blow.
O'Rourke was first to go, bowled by Shaffique before James McBrine then accounted for the very dangerous Anthony Brooks for just 2. Balbirnie somehow managed to survive an over from Jordan McGonagle before being stumped for a second time by Richard Dougherty having made 41 and although Graham McDonnell weighed in with 31 and Alan Eastwood 27, it was a pretty poor show around them.
The final wicket fell with the Dublin side having made 154, Junior McBrine claiming 3 for 18, Azhar Shaffique 3 for 28 and James McBrine 1 for 17 from 10 overs in a master class of containment bowling.
How Limavady could have done with Donemana's start as Richard Kee simply laid into Eastwood and Whaley from the moment they started their run-ups. Thirty runs came off the first two overs and the visitors didn't seem to know how to handle the onslaught.
Things were definitely getting a bit tasty in the middle as well as the game developed an obvious edge before Kee chopped onto his own stumps having made an explosive 36, all but 2 of those coming in boundaries. From 43 without loss it was soon 51 for 2 as Graeme Boyd fell cheaply but an even bigger blow was just around the corner as Shaffique played a poor shot to point and was easily caught, leaving his side 66 for 3. Minutes later the hosts were 4 down, Andy McBrine beaten by one that kept low and trapped in front and when Dwayne McGarrigle lofted one to Andy Leonard to make it 83 for 5 the ground was becoming an awful lot quieter.
Things got even worse in the 23rd over when Balbirnie trapped Junior McBrine leg before and the game looked up next ball when new batsman James McBrine was rapped on the pads in exactly the same fashion. The huge crowd though breathed a collective sigh of relief as the finger stayed down and that single moment turned the game.
The game had several flash points, with the umpires having to speak to the players several times. The rise in temperatures on the field as well as off it only served to spur on McBrine who launched a one-man assault on the Pembroke attack, hitting professional Brooks for 19 in a single over before plundering a further 22 off Brook's replacement Graham McDonnell's next two overs.
The Donemana man, (pictured reaching his 50) celebrating his 30th year in senior cricked remained unbeaten on 55 to carry his side into the final, his knock containing 4 sixes and 6 fours whilst Jordan McGonagle played his part in anchoring an unbeaten 62 run stand that saw the hosts through amidst jubilant scenes.
Limavady's defeat means that the final now moves back to its scheduled home at The Hills instead of Strabane, but having already plotted two successful raids to Leinster in this year's competition, Donemana are unlikely to be fazed by that prospect.