Leinster Lightning claimed the inaugural T20 Interprovincial title after Kevin O'Brien's side completed a thumping win over the North West Warriors at Bready on Sunday. Played out in front of a crowd of more than 500 they were much too strong for a home team containing quite a few new faces. Andrew Riddles, Andy Britton, Iftikhar Hussain and Stuart Thompson had all been given time to recover from niggling injuries by selectors however they were then robbed of skipper Niall McDonnell who trapped a nerve in his back on Saturday afternoon.
All of that meant débuts for Fox Lodge trio Andrew McGinnis, Jason Milligan and Dean McCarter as well as the welcome inclusion of Craig Young - freed up for the weekend by Sussex. Gareth Burns came back into the side as well while Eglinton's young spinner Ross Allen made up the 12.
Having won the toss, stand-in skipper Johnny Thompson invited his guests to bat first, and bat they certainly did. Reinhardt Strydom was in a hurry early on and despite being ruffled by a very quick first over from Young, Strydom decided attack would be the only form of defence. The opener was dismissed by Peter Connell in the 4th over of the match by which time he had made 35 off 14 balls (5 fours and 2 sixes).
Pat Collins looked in decent touch too but having added 33 he got himself into a bit of a tangle and was run out. Bill Coghlan and Andrew Poynter both made 12 but the real damage (after Strydom) was done by Kevin O'Brien and John Mooney late on. O'Brien clubbed 4 sixes and a four in his unbeaten 36 made off just 14 balls while Mooney was the perfect foil adding 22 not out.
The final total was 192 for 5 and even the biggest optimist in the region suspected that was too many. Gareth Burns with 2-29 from his 4 overs was the pick of the home attack but unfortunately there were to be fewer stars with the bat. Only Dean McCarter with 20, David Rankin (14) and Johnny Thompson (12) made it into double figures as the Warrior were dismissed for 86. There were 3 wickets here for Tyrone Kane and 2 apiece for Max Sorensen, Eddie Richardson and Albert van der Merwe.
Earlier in the day the new look Warriors' line up had struggled to cope with the spin of Andrew White as the Northern Knights kept the championship race alive with a 5-wicket win. Andy McBrine did best of the top order in that one as he made 16 but a steady fall of wickets made any hope of a big finish very unlikely. Scott Campbell added 19 in the middle but by that time, Eugene Moleon and his men were well on top. Three wickets for White and two for Moleon saw to it that the home side were restricted to just 92 and it looked an uphill battle to defend those.
To be fair the North West lads refused to lay down and Craig Young's opening burst was as quick as anything seen in the competition so far. That, and a superb spell of 3 for 12 from Andy McBrine gave the big support something to cheer about- the Donemana player's efforts enough to win him the man-of-the-match award, but sadly not enough to turn the match. Jamie Holmes with 22 and an unbeaten 22 from Nigel Jones were enough to claim a win for the NCU side.
With the Lightning and Knights tied on points the trophy was handed over to Kevin O'Brien as his side boasted a superior net run rate. Despite their disappointment however the Warriors can't let themselves become disillusioned- Bobby Rao and his team insisting from the very start that they are on a 3-year programme. The new faces performed reasonably well too- Craig Young and Gareth Burns both giving the attack a lift and the three Fox Lodge boys showing signs that they have plenty to offer the squad.
RSA Inter-Provincial T20 Trophy at Bready CC on 28th July 2013
North West Warriors 92 (20 overs, S Campbell 19, A McBrine 16, A White 3-17, E Moleon 2-16)
Northern Knights 95-5 (18 overs, N Jones 22no, J Holmes 22, A McBrine 3-12, C Young 2-24)
Northern Knights beat North West Warriors by 5 wickets
Leinster Lightning 192-5 (20 overs, K O'Brien 36no, R Strydom 35, P Collins 33, G Burns 2-29)
North West Warriors 86 (18.5 overs, D McCarter 20, T Kane 3-17, A van der Merwe 2-16, M Sorensen 2-17, E Richardson 2-20)
Leinster Lightning beat North West Warriors by 106 runs