Ian Callender
Brigade get home advantage in Irish Cup Semi-Final Draw

Ian Callender, 24 June 2001

Brigade will have home advantage in the semi final of the Royal Liver Irish Cup as they bid to win the trophy for the third time in six years. The Londonderry side, winners of the competition in 1996 and 1999, will be at home to Cliftonville and the two winners of the quarter finals in Dublin on Saturday have been drawn against each other ensuring a Leinster finalist for the first time since 1997. Brigade lost in the semi final last year, to eventual winners Donemana, but that was their first defeat in six games at the penultimate stage since their first in 1982 and as they have already trounced Cliftonville this season in the Ulster Cup, they will be confident of continuing the North West's superb run of nine consecutive appearances in the final.

Merrion are at home in the other semi final, against North County, but they may need all the help they can get because when the competition resumes on August 11, Ed Joyce (right), who scored another 70 in Saturday's quarter final against The Hills, will be back at Middlesex. In contrast, North County can expect to be at full strength and after their performance on Saturday that can be something really special. After dismissing Malahide for 176, they knocked off the runs in just 21.3 overs - a scoring rate of eight and a half an over from the start - as Conor Armstrong, an Ireland reserve for the ICC Trophy, scored 87 not out and South African Andre Botha hit an unbeaten 46. Remarkable hitting.

Brigade had 32 runs to spare in their quarter final against Downpatrick as steady batting down the order saw them post 200 and then regular wicket-taking completed the almost perfect team performance, Downpatrick bowled out in exactly 49 overs.