It has been a while since the North West has had much to sing about on the inter-provincial club scene.
But the Union will have it’s first all-local O’Neill’s Ulster Cup final for eight years later in the summer after Ardmore and Brigade emerged successful from Sunday’s semi-final ties.
The Bleachgreen team qualified courtesy of their second successive bowl-out win and they did so in some style too - Gary Neely, Decker Curry and Conor Brolly - the only bowlers they needed to use in a 3-1 verdict over All-Ireland champions Waringstown.
Neely’s men have been in excellent form so far this summer and they were far from overawed by the arrival of the NCU kingpins - the home side’s confidence very evident in the shoot-out.
Brigade have been ultra-impressive throughout this tournament and recorded win number three on the road as they beat North Down at Comber.
David Barr (84) and Gareth McKeegan (75) posted a 125-run stand for the first wicket and the visitors never looked back from there on. Danza Hyatt with an unbeaten 67 carried on the good work as the Beechgrove boys made 239 for 3 in their 40 overs.
Not for the first time it was Pieter Malan who bossed the reply- the South African was again at his brilliant best as he made a superb 104.
While Malan and Nathan Burns (37) were together the home side were very much still alive until Hyatt (3-12) did for both- Malan’s heroics ending with an innocuous full toss that he could literally have smacked anywhere.
Skipper Andy Britton (3-31) and the lively Nick Donnell (3-32) were also bang on the money to keep the rest of the order quiet as Brigade deservedly went through.
No such luck for the two North West teams in the Shield competition however - Fox Lodge beaten 2-0 in a bowl-out by Bangor while a Ryan Haire century and 81 from Avadhoot Dandekar took Muckamore over the 300-mark and a 113-run verdict over Glendermott at the Rectory.
In the sole game in the Long’s Supervalu Championship, Newbuildings beat Burndennett by 118 runs courtesy of a century from Dean Mehaffey.
Meanwhile the start of the official school holidays coincided with arguably the wettest weekend of 2016 so far and meant that all eight senior games - four in the Long’s SuperValu Premiership plus the first round of the Sam Jeffrey Shield - were washed away on Saturday without a ball bowled.