North West Warriors signed off the domestic season in emphatic fashion with a superb eight wickets victory over holders Leinster Lightning and claim the T20 inter-provincial Trophy.
It was their first success in the short format since 2014 and captain Andy McBrine, one of only two surviving members from seven years ago, said that new coach Gary Wilson had made the difference.
In his post-match speech, McBrine gave the credit to Ireland’s former T20 captain saying: “Since Gary took over he has given us that confidence to play our own game.”
And when a North West side are at their free-flowing best, they can be untouchable and they proved it yesterday, passing Lightning’s inadequate 113 for nine with more than six overs to spare.
Admittedly, it was a Lightning side who were playing their first match of the NCU’s festival weekend – their other games against Munster Reds and Northern Knights both falling victim to the weather. But by picking up two points from the ‘no results’, it still sent them into yesterday’s afternoon’s finale just two points behind Warriors, so a winner-take all clash.
But as captain George Dockrell admitted afterwards, they were never up to speed, “didn’t adapt quickly enough to the conditions and batted poorly”.
Indeed, Kevin O’Brien’s 23 from 24 balls included two of the three fours and the only six hit by the top seven batsmen, two of which, Dockrell and fellow Ireland international Lorcan Tucker made ducks, facing only three balls between them.
It left Lightning 58 for eight at the start of the 14th over and the only reason they were able to bat out their overs was because of debutant Gavin Hoey’s 37 from 28 balls.
The son of former Ireland leg spinner Conor, hit three sixes in those six overs, only dismissed to the penultimate ball but it gave Conor Olphert a deserved third wicket, having already claimed the scalps of Theo Lawson and Dockrell with successive balls.
Spin bowlers were, as they had been in the previous two games, the most economical and threatening, with Graham Kennedy and McBrine having combined figures of four for 32 in their eight overs.
You could see that Warriors fancied their chances of victory from the first over of their innings and although Stephen Doheny was out in the fifth over, he had scored a run-a-ball 17 and McBrine then increased the pace with successive sixes off Hoey.
The captain was out with the total on 91 but Shane Getkate hit 26 off the remaining 28 runs (three fours and two sixes from 12 balls) to leave William Porterfield watching at the other end, unbeaten on 39.
In the morning game, reduced to 10 overs by a delayed start, Ross Adair produced a one-man show to hit 54 of his side’s 74 from 27 balls, with six fours and three sixes to beat Munster Reds by nine wickets.
Paul Stirling, Mark Adair and Gareth Delany, who hit 60 off 35 balls in the Reds win over Warriors on Saturday, did not play yesterday, ahead of the Ireland team’s departure for T20 World Cup on Friday.
YESTERDAY’S SCORES: Munster Reds 72-5 (10 overs, M Ford 21; B White 2-3) Northern Knights 74-1 (7.4 overs, R Adair 54 not out).
Knights won by 9 wickets.
Leinster Lightning 113-9 (20 overs, G Hoey 37, K O’Brien 23; C Olphert 3-27, G Kennedy 2-14, A McBrine 2-18) North West Warriors 119-2 (13.5 overs, W Porterfield 39 not out, S Getkate 26 not out, A McBrine 24).
Warriors won by 8 wickets.