Back in 1986 the cup came for the first and to date only time to Coleraine, as they beat Strabane in a tense struggle, helped in no small measure by their overseas professional Milind Gunjal.

The Indian top-order batsman added batting quality and cricketing nous to a Coleraine side who had shocked the region with a semi-final victory over the all-conquering Donemana side, a win which former Coleriane opening batsman and later Cricket Ireland President Gavin Craig (pictured below) acknowledged didn't go down well with the Union's money men.

"I was very aware the powers that be in the NW were disappointed Donemana were not in the 86 final with their large support to boost NW finances," said Craig.

A 14-run win in the semi-final had been achieved primarily thanks to a half century from Philip Carson, and three wickets apiece from Ricky Huey, George McMichael and Victor McDaid. 

Gunjal's contribution was a modest 19, but a player who averaged over 47 in 88 first-class matches with 14 centuries, was sure to come good on the big occasion, and thus it proved.

Their first final appearance was a big thing to the club, but cricket was very much a case of not even second fiddle, but third fiddle in a town dominated by soccer and rugby. 

"We along with very modest support, turned up, after brunch in The White Horse, to a damp overcast Beechgrove.," continued Craig.

"We were surprised when Jim Simpson told us play would start in 20 minutes and we should get changed and ready to play. No warm-ups in those days!

"The game itself was a low scoring match where the bowlers dominated. We had a terrific bowling combination - Ricky Huey, Victor McDaid, George McMichael, Richard Hunter and Dave Eastwood. All different but each very assured.

"Our batting depended heavily on Milind who had a strong belief that we could win the cup that year. It was his planning and confidence in us which had overwhelmed Donemana in the semi final."

It was the experience of Milind and his reading of the pitch that was to prove crucial when it came to deciding  what we would do after winning the toss.

"Several key moments in the final stick in my memory. Firstly we won the toss and Ricky Huey wanted to bowl but Miland was adamant it would be much harder to bat in the fourth innings compared to the first, he was right.

"We had a reunion last summer with many of the 1986 side when Miland visited Coleraine and he recalled that decision with some pride!

"As with most games catches win matches, and a dropped catch in the slips by Strabane early on was crucial and allowed Milind to settle in with Dave Eastwood and steer us to a modest but decent total in the conditions."

Gunjal top scored with 43 - one of four wickets for Terence Patton senior - while Eastwood's unbeaten 36 saw Coleraine post 166.

Strabane though struggled and were dismissed for just 88, with McMichael, McDaid, Huey and Hunter all in the wickets. Their quick demise though meant Coleraine had to bat again, and Craig fell for single figures.

"Our bowlers did their job and we found ourselves batting again on the first day. Not a happy memory for me as I was out twice. Richard Hunter was sent in as night watchman until the umpires decided the light was not fit for play- we thought it was never fit for a second innings to start!"

Milind dominated a tough second innings, scoring 59 out of the Coleraine total of 114 - extras were next highest scorer with 19, and the other 10 Coleraine players managed a combined total of 36 runs between them.

Strabane were set a target of 193 which was achieveable but would have been the highest total of the match.

"In the second innings Victor McDaid opened with a few loose overs from the pavilion end but skipper Huey switched him to the other end where he found line and length surprising Billy Henderson with a rapid bouncer.

"Bobby Rao was settling in and it was obvious to us we had to get him out to win. During the last over before tea Gunjal stopped play and moved into forward short leg, under Bobby's nose.

"That unsettled Bobby and he holed out to Ivan Harper on the square leg boundary. Tea tasted so much better after that fall of wicket.

"George McMichael never let Strabane recover and the celebrations started as we won by 39 runs." 

The game had continued into the Monday night, and that meant celebrations had to be low-key at a time when the troubles meant town centres weren't exactly Las Vegas like in midweek.

"In the mid-eighties it was hard to find somewhere to celebrate late on a Monday evening in Coleraine!

"We abandoned our search and re-assembled in our clubhouse the following evening. In those days Coleraine rugby teams were winning cups regularly, so it was great to put a cricket cup into the trophy cabinet."

The cup has never travelled to Sandel Lodge again, with their only other final appearance coming in 2016 when they lost out to Donemana.

In fact that 1986 cup semi-final victory against Donemana in the semi-final remains the only time they have defeated the County Tyrone kingpins in the Blue Riband competition.

All members of the 86 side are still alive and eight of them were able to attend the reunion last year.

Man-of-the-Match Gunjal is still in contact with the club. Indeed he is currently writing a book and the exploits of that famous win in 1986 is sure to feature.