The Senior Cup is back in Beechgrove for the first time in eight years after Andy Britton’s Brigade side completed a comprehensive 94 runs victory over Eglinton.
While rain washed out the entire NCU programme, the North West’s highlight of the season was hurried to a conclusion, with just two rain interruptions on the second day, as Brigade took the last seven wickets for 35 runs.
Britton, leading from the front, was named man of the match as he finished with 7-24 to add to his whirlwind 50 from 26 balls in the first innings which put Eglinton on the back foot.
The Brigade skipper bowled only three overs in the first innings, after taking a knock on the hand when batting but the rest of the attack earned a decisive first innings lead of 90.
Resuming on 42-4 yesterday, after overnight rain delayed the start by 45 minutes, Johnny Thompson and Niall McDonnell added another 66 runs before being parted and a target of 279 in the fourth innings always looked too big an ask for Eglinton.
They needed their main two batsmen, Mike Erlank and Stuart Thompson, to go big to give them a chance but South African Erlank played an irresponsible shot in only the 10th over and although Thompson reached 50, he was out next ball, caught low down at mid-off by Britton who then took centre stage with the ball.
Jamie Millar had upstaged his skipper and professional to top score for the second time in the match but the first ball of Britton’s second spell was the Eglinton batsman’s last, spectacularly caught in the covers by Niall McDonnell, and by the start of his last over Britton had figures of 6-21.
He thought he had his seventh wicket when Tommy Orr nicked the first ball to Gareth McKeegan but the keeper was so keen to celebrate the cup triumph that he dropped the ball.
No matter, three balls later, Britton did it himself, bowling the No 11 and the long overdue celebrations could begin.
Thompson praised the character his side showed after taking those four early wickets on Friday evening before the close — and again during his 109 runs partnership with Millar — but it was the final rain break of the day which did the losers no favours.
Thompson and Millar had added 86 in just 14 overs before the rain returned and the break halted all their momentum. The first over after the interruption was a maiden and when Ryan McBeth broke the partnership only 23 runs had been added in six and a half overs.
But Brigade can say that both batsmen should have been out before the break, dropped at mid-wicket and fly slip respectively and, over the two days, there was no argument about who was the better team.
Brigade had come out the other side of a horrendous June, when they lost all four league games, to beat Donemana twice, and after ending the Cup holders’ six-year reign in the semi-final, they deserved nothing less than to lift the Cup.