It's back to 1986 when Phoenix broke the NCU stranglehold and won the trophy for the first and to date only time.

The Dubliners were captained by Gordon Black and their experienced line-up contained Irish internationals Alf Masood, Stan Mitchell, Gerry Murphy and Mike Halliday.

Looking back at the five games that Phoenix played in the 1986 competition perhaps the most extraordinary thing is that all the games were won by a distance, none more so than the final against Donemana.

Phoenix did not win any of the LCU competitions, although they came second in all of them. The reasons for the relatively easy wins were down to tight bowling and in three of the games the dominance of Alf Masood at the crease.

In the five games Alf scored 309 runs. Left from the five in a row Leinster cups in the 70s were Brian Freer, Stan Mitchell, David Ensor, Gerry Murphy, Mike Halliday and Gordon Black, the skipper.

In the final, these six plus Alf, were augmented by David Pigot Jun., Neil Taylor, a 16 year old David Streek and Collie Daly who had chosen to play in Phoenix that season rather than Clontarf and kept wicket when Gerry Murphy was not playing. Willie Dwyer was 12th man!

The other rather odd statistic is that the first four matches were all played at home and the final being in Leinster was probably also a benefit.

The first round was v Strabane and the legendary Bobby Rao scored 73 of their 201 total. Masood and David Pigot Senior (aged 56) put on 141 for the first wicket before Pigot was dismissed for 46. Masood went for 90 and the game was won by 5 wickets. This match also 'doubled-up' as the Beckett Cup Final as the two clubs had been due to meet earlier in the season but the match had been washed out - so, first trophy of the season in the cabinet!

One of Gordon Black's more difficult decisions came later in the season when deciding to leave David Pigot senior out of the XI for the semi-final and final. He was supported in this by other senior members of the team who all felt that he could no longer score at a reasonable pace and was not able to move with any speed between the wickets or in the field. However another odd statistic is that between 1919 and 2003 there was a DR Pigot on the Phoenix 1st XI every season. (His dad, also DRP, was also an international)

"The second round on 17th June saw Clontarf restricted to 149 for 8 with Halliday 10 overs 3 for 13 and Hugh Milling 10 overs 1 for 17. Masood then hit 108 not out in an 8 wicket win.

"The third round was against Ballymena on 25th July. Ballymena got to 102 for 4 thanks to a 79 run stand between Park and McCombe. They then succumbed to 114 all out with Gordon Black bagging a hat trick with the last 3 wickets. It took 32 overs to chase successfully with Masood, 2 Pigots, Taylor and Murphy sharing the runs.

The semi final against Bangor was on the 23rd August. Bangor had a strong side and a formidable opening attack of John Elder and Tim English. After they were carefully seen off Jeremy Stewart removed both Masood and Murphy and 'Jute' Magowan bowling slow left arm came on.

Halliday recalls how skipper Black juggling of the batting order proved a masterstroke.

"Gordon Black promoted Stan Mitchell (an aggressive left hander) to number 3 to specifically attack Magowan. This worked well especially to the relatively short onside pavilion boundary and Mitchell (57) & Neil Taylor (40) put on 72 quickly. Although Magowan ended with 3 wickets Phoenix were able to reach 204 for 7 in their fifty overs.

"You could say that that score is equivalent to about 304 for 7 today with the way the approach to batting and general limited overs strategy is currently. Hugh Milling, who was opening the bowling for Ireland in 1986, was now unavailable so the bowling was opened by Freer and the captain. Milling's place was taken by the 16 year old David Streek who bowled very well in both semi final and final. The main hope for Bangor were internationals Michael Rea (54) and Chris Harte (31) who put on 65 for the second wicket but both fell to good catches when trying to increase the run rate. Bangor collapsed from 93 for 1 to 138 all out after 44 overs with Brian Freer taking 3 for 18."

The final against Donemana on the 6th September was given a bit of extra spice following the previous year's encounter in Donemana. Phoenix had been 81 for 2 after 22 overs when a downpour halted play and that should have been that but when the rain stopped a sodden playing area was covered in sawdust and the umpires were persuaded to resume play with Donemana only needing 82 in 22 overs (those were the rules then!). They achieved this for the loss of 4 wickets.

It was felt that Donemana's very successful aggressive batting strategy might not be so effective if they were asked to bat first in the final considering the extra pressure that that might involve. So Donemana were inserted when Gordon Black won the toss. David Streek opened the bowling and belied his years to take 1 for 17 in 8 overs. No batsman got going and aggressive shots were few.

The bowling was tight and when Mike Halliday drifted a ball through the gate of the young left-handed Dekker Curry to hit his off stump it seemed to have a negative effect on the remaining batsmen who played with diminishing confidence. It took 44 overs before all 10 were out for 109. The wicket was good and for neutrals this was not what they had expected. (not that there were many neutrals around).

One sour note was the sizeable Donemana support didn't take their low score very well and as the day wore on and the effects of alcohol kicked in, there was some disgraceful racist abuse directed at Alf Masood.

However, this only spurred Masood on as he and Murphy batted very well and put on 85 before Alf was caught at long off.

Neil Taylor, who had won the man of the match the previous year for a 50 in the rain ruined debacle, hit his first ball for 4 and 110 was reached in the 27th over.

Masood's satisfaction at winning the man of the match award was evident as Phoenix celebrated the culmination of a dream of the 'older generation' of players, as they had targeted this cup since its inception in 1982, regarding it as the premier competition in Irish cricket.

back row left to right. Collie Daly; David Streek; Brian Freer; Willie Dwyer (12th man); Stan Mitchell; Gerry Murphy; Eoin O'Brien (President).
Sitting: Neil Taylor; Mike Halliday; Gordon Black (Captain); David Pigot (Jun); Alf Masood; David Ensor.

Donemana Vs Phoenix
1-Innings Match Played At Rathmines, 06-Sep-1986, Irish Senior Cup
Phoenix Win by 9 wkts

Round Final
Toss won by Donemana
Umpires P Lunney - MAC Moore
Home Side (neutral)
Player of Match M Masood
Comment 1986 Final

Donemana 1st Innings 109/10 All Out (Overs 46.5)

Batsman Fieldsman Bowler Runs Bls 4s 6s
A Scott   c&b D Streek 21 30 3 0
A (Junior) McBrine   b B Freer 7 22 0 0
I Dougherty+ lbw b B Freer 1 15 0 0
Des (Decker) Curry   b M Halliday 12 14 2 0
J McBrine c G Black b M Halliday 13 57 0 0
R McBrine   b M Halliday 2 31 0 0
R McGonigle   b G Black 14 31 0 0
Boyd Curry c B Freer b M Masood 5 38 0 0
D Leckey c C Daly b M Masood 1 6 0 0
R Mitchell not out   9 19 1 0
R Kerr   b B Freer 10 16 0 0
extras   (b3 lb7 w3 nb1) 14      
TOTAL   10 wickets for 109      
1-27(A (Junior) McBrine) 2-31(I Dougherty) 3-35(A Scott) 4-51(Des (Decker) Curry)
5-57(R McBrine) 6-73(J McBrine) 7-83(R McGonigle) 8-88(D Leckey) 9-95(Boyd Curry)
Bowler Overs Maid Runs Wkts wd nb
B Freer 8.5 4 25 3 - -
D Streek 8 0 17 1 - -
M Masood 10 1 18 2 1 1
M Halliday 10 4 13 3 - -
G Black 10 0 26 1 2 -

Phoenix 1st Innings 110/1 Closed (Overs 29)

Batsman Fieldsman Bowler Runs Bls 4s 6s
M Masood c R Kerr b R McBrine 51 63 5 0
GR Murphy not out   40 96 2 0
NR Taylor not out   10 18 2 0
JSL Mitchell dnb          
DBB Ensor dnb          
DR Pigot (Jnr) dnb          
G Black dnb          
C Daly dnb          
M Halliday dnb          
B Freer dnb          
D Streek dnb          
extras   (b3 lb2 w2 nb2) 9      
TOTAL   1 wickets for 110      
1-85(M Masood)
Bowler Overs Maid Runs Wkts wd nb
R Mitchell 5 0 30 0 1 -
J McBrine 6 0 12 0 - 1
A (Junior) McBrine 9 2 21 0 - -
R Kerr 3 0 24 0 1 2
R McBrine 5 1 11 1 - -
Des (Decker) Curry 1 0 7 0 - -