Brigade crowned All-Ireland Champions
Captain Andy Britton has led Brigade Cricket Club to victory after a drama-filled title decider against Cork Harlequins in the men’s Clear Currency All-Ireland T20 Cup Final at Observatory Lane in Rathmines.
Britton followed up his semi-final heroics (during which he claimed 2-19 and scored 42*) with another decisive all-round performance – scoring a valuable 16 from 14 balls in the first innings, he made his most telling contribution in the second when he claimed 4-28 from his 4 overs, which included a sensational reflex catch off his own bowling.
The Munster side had battled well with the ball early on, restricting Brigade to 125-8 from their 20 overs – a total that was looking a lot less defendable until Ryan Barr hit three big sixes in the 19th over and gave his struggling side a target to defend.
Image: The Brigade side pre-game
Image: The Cork Harlequins side pre-game
Earlier in the day Cork Harlequins won the toss under heavy grey skies and elected to bowl first on a ground that had experienced very damp conditions in the build-up to the game.
The match was tense from the outset, as both sides seemed to be feeling the nerves with so much at stake. Brigade struggled through the opening power play, being held to 32-2 after a very tight spell of bowling from Adam Hickey and Zubair Hassan Khan. Opener David Murdock, who looked to have adapted best to conditions, departed for 23 shortly after as the Harlequins bowlers looked to keep sustained pressure on during the middle overs – with Brandon Kruger (1-21) and Matt Brewster (1-16) bowling tight lines.
Britton hit two powerful boundaries in his brief but important stay, but his dismissal with the score on 85 was followed by a fifth wicket one run later. Looking shaky, it was then that a pivotal partnership came together that eventually made the difference between the two sides. Ross Allen (10) and Barr (26) put on 36 in 18 balls to put Brigade in with a competitive shout – Barr particularly took full toll on Hassan Khan’s fourth over with those three big sixes signalling a momentum shift in the match.
Senan Jones picked up two wickets off the first two balls of the last over, and Brigade finished on 125-8.
The second innings saw a similar pattern to the first, with Cork Harlequins struggling in the power play after fantastic spells from Andy Britton, Ryan Macbeth and Iftikar Hussain left Harlequins struggling at 24-3. Arguably, while Britton claimed four wickets, it was Hussain’s 1-14 from four overs that contributed as much to the increasing pressure Harlequins felt.
A strong 42-run stand between Mubeen Ali (26 off 22) and Jack Buss (17 off 22) led a hoped-for comeback by the Cork batters – getting their side into a potentially achievable position requiring 46 runs from their final 30 deliveries, but a great display of death bowling from Britton sealed the Brigade win and his Player of the Match award.
Brigade – twice winners of the Irish Senior Cup in the 1990s – were crowned 2021 Clear Currency All-Ireland T20 Cup winners for the first time.
Brigade Cricket Club v Cork Harlequins, All-Ireland T20 Cup Final, Observatory Lane, Rathmines, 22 August 2021
Brigade 125-8 (20 overs; R Barr 26, D Murdock 23; Z Hassan Khan 3-39)
Harlequins 117-9 (20 overs; M Ali 26, J Buss 17; A Britton 4-28)
Brigade won by 8 runs