Waringstown Crowned O’Neills Ulster Cup Champions
Waringstown clinched their first Ulster Cup triumph in the 19 year history of the competition, played for the first time this season in T20 format.
They played Coleriane in the morning semi-final at Saintfield and were always in control after the Bannsiders lost early wickets, including that of South African professional Graham Hume without scoring.
David Cooke (27*) struck three sixes late on to get Coleraine to exactly 100, but such a modest total was to prove little challenge to the powerful Mid-Ulster side.
Former Irish international James Hall clubbed four sixes and two fours in a top score of 41, as he and Lee Nelson added 66 in just 38 balls to seal a 9-wicket win. Nelson’s 33 came from 23 balls and included 5 fours and a six.
The other semi-final saw Bready overcome hosts North Down thanks a very disciplined all-round display.
David Scanlon’s first over of the innings proved crucial as he dismissed both Danny Graham and the prolific Ruhan Pretorius inside six balls.
Peter Eakin’s half century and Nathan Burns (32) helped North Down to 119 for 9 - Andrew Lucas taking 3 for 17, and David Rankin, Irosh Samarasooriya and Scanlon picking up a brace apiece.
Rankin (58) and Samarasooriya (35) then shared a second wicket stand of 83 as Bready won at a canter - seven wickets and 19 balls to spare.
Unfortunately for the Magheramason side, they ran into a Waringstown juggernaut which shows no signs of slowing down.
A solid batting display saw Waringstown post 158 for 7 - skipper Greg Thompson top scoring with 32, while there were breeezy cameos from James Hall (31), Shaheen Khan (25) and Marcus McClean (25).
James Mitchell struck a decisive blow in his first over removing the influential Rankin, and when James McCollum dismissed Samarasooriya soon after, Bready were always chasing the game.
The Waringstown spinning triumvirate of Lee Nelson (3-11), Gary Kidd (3-16) and Kyle McCallan (2-14) then had combined figures of 8 for 41 as Bready limped to 79 all out - only half-way to the total.
Skipper Thompson reflected on an excellent weekend for the club, following on from their Irish cup win.
“It’s been two good days of cricket,” said a proud Thompson. “Saturday and the Irish Cup was our priority at the start of the week but once we had secured the final place with the win over Pembroke we switched our focus to the Ulster Cup and the chance to win silverware.
“I thought the team played excellent cricket all the weekend, and it’s very enjoyable to play with such a talented bunch of guys. The momentum within the club is strong at the minute and we want that to continue for the rest of the season.”
The sides meet again next Sunday when they will be joined by Clontarf and Cork County in the inaugural All-Ireland T20 competition.
Ulster Cup Final
At Comber, Waringstown beat Bready by 79 runs
Waringstown 158-7 (20 overs; G Thompson 32, J Hall 31, S Khan 25, M McClean 25, R Kelly 2-30, A Lucas 2-33)
Bready 79 all out (14.4 overs; L Nelson 3-11, G Kidd 3-16, K McCallan 2-14)
At Saintfield, Waringstown beat Coleraine by 9 wickets
Coleraine 100-6 (20 overs; D Cooke 27*, S Lazars 24; J Mitchell 2-17, L Nelson 2-31)
Waringstown 103-1 (11 overs; J Hall 41*, L Nelson 33*, A Dennison 23)
At Comber, Bready beat North Down by 7 wickets
North Down 119-9 (20 overs; P Eakin 50, N Burns 32; A Lucas 3-17; I Samarasooriya 2-17, D Rankin 2-23, D Scanlon 2-23)
Bready 121-3 (16.5 overs; D Rankin 58, I Samarasooriya 36)