In the small window between their series against Zimbabwe and departing for the T20 World Cup, Cricket Ireland were able to squeeze in the final round of fixtures of the IP20. The scheduling meant that several senior internationals were rested, while members of Ireland’s Under 19 squad were away playing in the European World Cup Qualifiers. As a result, several unusual looking squads made their way to Comber, County Down to see who would be able to claim the trophy.
Northern Knights vs North-West Warriors – No Result.
Leinster Lightning vs Munster Reds – No Result.
The opening day of the festival saw no play at all, as consistent rain and a sodden outfield left all four teams sharing the points.
Northern Knights vs Leinster Lightning – No Result.
Munster Reds (154-4 – 15.1 overs) beat North-West Warriors (151-6) by 6 wickets
The rain had passed by the time day two began, but the outfield was still far too wet for any play to take place in the morning, as the hosts saw another game abandoned.
The No Result left the North-West Warriors with a simple equation as they were put into bat by the Munster Reds. A win would seal their place at the top of the table, while anything else would leave all to play for on the final day. A promising start by Porterfield and Doheny was undone as the Warriors collapsed to 66/5, before a 24-ball 52 from Graham Hume helped the Warriors to a defendable 151/6.
There was excitement among Irish fans watching as Gareth Delany made a long-awaited return to action for the Reds. The opener made an instant impact, as series of big blows and unorthodox strikes saw Delany reach 60 runs from 35 balls. He shared a blistering 78 run partnership with Matt Ford, who added to his two wickets in the first innings with a quickfire 63 runs to take Munster to their target with five overs to spare.
Northern Knights (74/1 – 7.4 overs) beat Munster Reds (72/5 – 10 overs) by 9 wickets.
North-West Warriors (119-2 – 13.5 overs) beat Leinster Lightning (113-9) by 8 wickets.
The action of the final day was once again impacted by a wet outfield, as the opening game between the Knights and the Reds was reduced to 10 overs a side. An aggressive start from Matt Ford and Murray Commins looked set to lead to a strong total, but the Knights were able to take wickets at regular intervals, which kept the run rate well under control. The Reds finished their 10 overs on 72/5, a performance that featured just eight boundaries, leaving them with their work cut out for them in the defence.
The Knights’ chase was efficient and brutal as former professional rugby player Ross Adair showed his strength to put Munster to the sword. Adair scored 54 of the Knights 74 runs, taking just 27 balls as he smashed the beleaguered bowlers all over the ground.
The final match of the weekend, and indeed the season, saw the title decider between the North-West Warriors and the Leinster Lightning. Warriors’ captain Andy McBrine won the toss and chose to field, a decision that immediately paid off as the Lightning top order collapsed unceremoniously. Kevin O’Brien was the only batter in the top 7 to reach double figures (23 from 24 balls) as the defending champions stumbled to 58/8.
Leinster’s blushes were spared somewhat by an excellent 53-run partnership between Josh Little and Gavin Hoey. 19-year-old Hoey stood out, coming into his third ever T20 after two ducks in two innings, only to bludgeon his way to a 28-ball 37.
Conor Olphert impressed for the Warriors, picking up three wickets to add to his two in the previous match. Olphert was a fringe figure for most of the season, but given his clear ability, that is unlikely to remain the case in 2022.
If Leinster thought their final total of 113 was defendable, the Warriors had other ideas. William Porterfield held the fort at one end with an unbeaten 39, while Doheny, McBrine and Getkate all chipped in as the Warriors reached their target in under 14 overs. Getkate’s explosive finishing added insult to injury as his 12-ball 26 saw him bring the score level before dispatching Hoey for six to secure the win in style.
After three rounds of matches, the North-West Warriors were able to lift the IP20 trophy for the first time since 2014. New coach Gary Wilson picked up his first piece of silverware as a coach, but given the young talent available to the Warriors, it will not be his last.
Top run scorers: Matt Ford (Reds) 220, PJ Moor (Reds) 209, Simi Singh (Leinster) 197.
Top wicket takers: Ben White (Knights) 17, Craig Young (Warriors) 12, Josh Little (Leinster) 11.
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