The 1987 decider was an all NW affair with St Johnston upsetting the odds to thrash Brigade at Beechgrove by seven wickets.

The Donegal side though had shown their pedigree throughout the competition, playing all five matches away from home as they beat YMCA, Donemana, Lurgan, Railway Union and Brigade.

They were an experienced side, the nucleus of which had been together for a decade, with the Rankin and Lapsley brothers, William McKean, Aidan Devine and skippered by Irish international Paul Wallace.

St Johnston

Ian Rankin remembered the run to the final, when you got the feeling their name was very much on the trophy given the nature of two of their wins in particular.

"We were due to play a very strong YMCA side at home, but it was one of those very wet days where it became clear quickly that there would be no chance of play.

"We could have opted for a bowl-out but both teams agreed to a midweek replay in Dublin, and we won that rematch relatively comfortably.

"An away day trip to Donemana was our reward and at that time they were the undoubted kings of NW cricket, in the middle of their nine-in-a-row league triumphs.

"We batted first and scored 220 with Ian Anthony scoring a century. That was a big score in those days but with two overs to go, it didn't look enough as they only needed 7 runs with five wickets remaining and the frontline bowlers all bowled out.

"I bowled the 49th over and despite Boyd Curry who was a big man with a big bat, swishing at all six, he didn't connect and we were still in the contest. My brother David bowled the last and it came down to the final ball with two needed to tie and three to win. They almost got the tie but Aidan Devine managed to get the ball in from fine leg just in time. A tight call but umpire Danny Brown gave the verdict and we won by 1 run.

"Danny as you can imagine wasn't the most popular with the home fans and Doris in particular. They felt he had denied them the tie. Nobody knew the rules but about 10 minutes later it transpired we would have won on fewer wickets lost in the event the scores were level. I still remember the sight of a very despondent Boyd Curry leaving the ground, inconsolable."

Previous winners Lurgan were accounted for in the quarter-finals with Ian Rankin top scoring with 60 in a 30-run win, and a trip to Dublin to face Railway Union in the semi-final awaited, and it was to prove another nail-biter.

"We travelled down on the Friday to acclimatize! We certainly enjoyed ourselves and the following day weren't too disappointed when the start was delayed due to a damp square.

"The overs were reduced and we opted surprisingly to bat first. We didn't cover ourselves in glory aside from Keith Lapsley who hit 40 in our modest total of 137 for 7. Our run looked over as they raced out of the blocks, reaching 50 for 0 after just six overs.

"However, we chipped away and nerves played a part with such a major prize at stake. It all came down to the last ball with the last pair at the wicket and six needed. Brendan 'Ginger' O'Brien was still there and when David Dunn bowled a knee height full toss of leg stump, it seemed as if we would be beaten at the death. However, despite making a clean connection, the ball was caught right in front of the square leg boundary by Keith Lapsley - cue major celebrations."

The venue for the final was supposed to be Rathmines, but with two NW involved, the ICU ruled that it could take place in the NW if a venue could be agreed.

"Brigade proposed Beechgrove and we were happy to agree. It held good memories for us with our cup final wins. I had also played for them, and there was always a great atmosphere there.

"We actually met the week before the final in a league game when we were dismissed for only 100, and lost by 8 wickets. It would be different the next time we met."

Brigade were led by William Wilson,  with Dougie Huey, Colin Jeffrey, Gerard McCarter and Barton Curry in their line-up alongside younger players of the caliber of Stephen Smyth, Keith McCrory, Michael Bruce and Marshall Kilgore.


The weather in 1987 wasn't great and there was doubt if the game would go ahead as William Wilson recalled.

"The start was delayed due to the weather and it looked doubtful for any play on the day. Our ground staff, led by the late Jim Wallace, did a great job and got the ground playable.

"The conditions were obviously suited to bowling first and unfortunately I lost the toss and St Johnston skipper, Paul Wallace asked us to bat. Unfortunately we didn't perform at all, all out for 94 and I top-scored with 21."

Rankin admits that while the toss was crucial, they learned their lesson from the semi-final and had no hesitation in inserting Brigade.

"We exploited the conditions perfectly with three wickets apiece for Ivan Lapsley and Davy Dunn, with me taking two and David one. The other wicket to fall was thanks to an athletic piece of fielding by Aidan Devine who threw down the stumps from the boundary to run out Irish Schools international Keith McCrory.

"Our fielding was exceptional that day with six catches being offered and all taken plus that run out by Aidan. One effort by Ivan in particular in the slips was exceptional.

"There were a lot of younger batsmen in the Brigade line-up and they just seemed to freeze on the big occasion."

William Wilson admits that it was a very one-sided contest.

"We were never in the game and St Johnston cruised to victory by seven wickets. A very disappointing day for the club in general as we had the benefit of home advantage in an All Ireland Cup final.

"The only consolation was that we were beaten by a North West club and the trophy came to the North West Union for the first time."

William McKean hit an unbeaten 30, while Aidan Devine made 23 and Ian Anthony 18 in a very comfortable seven-wicket victory with a very happy Ian Rankin in the middle when the trophy was secured.

The Cup goes to County Donegal

For Rankin, the final saw a very motivated Saints team, for whom many were aware it was possibly 'Last Chance Saloon' after 13 years together.

"By that stage William McKean was living in Lisburn and hardly playing. David Dunn was in the Met Police and only flying in for big games, while Ivan Lapsley was based in Limavady and had indicated this was his final season.

"Keith Lapsley and David Rankin also retired at the end of the year, so we would start the 1988 season with five missing from the team."

While the victory was to mark the end of a golden era for St Johnston, for Brigade there were to be happier times ahead, no more so that two Irish Cup triumphs in the 90's, which we will look back to later in the series.

Brigade Vs St Johnston
1-Innings Match Played At Beechgrove, 05-Sep-1987, Irish Senior Cup
St Johnston Win by 7 wkts

Round Final
Toss won by Brigade
Umpires B Carpenter - MAC Moore
Home Side (neutral)
Player of Match I Lapsley
Comment Due to overnight rain match was reduced to 45 overs a side.

Brigade 1st Innings 93/10 All Out (Overs 33.5)

Batsman Fieldsman Bowler Runs Bls 4s 6s
C Jeffrey c D Rankin b I Lapsley 1 0 0 0
W Wilson*   c&b I Rankin 21 0 0 0
K McCrory run out   12 0 0 0
Gerard McCarter c I Lapsley b D Dunn 5 0 0 0
A Jeffrey c Paul Wallace b D Dunn 12 0 0 0
M Kilgore c D Rankin b D Dunn 1 0 0 0
SG Smyth+ c I Anthony b I Lapsley 16 0 0 0
Barton Curry   c&b I Rankin 0 0 0 0
J Falconer c I Rankin b I Lapsley 19 0 0 0
M Bruce not out   2 0 0 0
D Huey   b D Rankin 0 0 0 0
extras   (b0 lb4 w0 nb0) 4      
TOTAL   10 wickets for 93      
1-1 2-26 3-36 4-52 5-53 6-55 7-55 8-55 9-83 10-92
Bowler Overs Maid Runs Wkts wd nb
Paul Wallace 5 1 19 0 - -
I Lapsley 7 1 23 3 - -
D Dunn 9 4 13 3 - -
I Rankin 9 1 21 2 - -
R Cole 2 0 7 0 - -
D Rankin 1.5 0 6 1 - -

St Johnston 1st Innings 94/3 Closed (Overs 28.4)

Batsman Fieldsman Bowler Runs Bls 4s 6s
D Rankin c Gerard McCarter b W Wilson 7 0 0 0
A Devine c SG Smyth b A Jeffrey 23 0 0 0
W McKean not out   30 0 0 0
I Anthony+   c&b D Huey 18 0 0 0
I Rankin not out   5 0 0 0
I Lapsley dnb          
Paul Wallace* dnb          
D Dunn dnb          
R Cole dnb          
M Alexander dnb          
K Lapsley dnb          
extras   (b0 lb7 w4 nb0) 11      
TOTAL   3 wickets for 94      
1-18(D Rankin) 2-54(A Devine) 3-81(I Anthony)
Bowler Overs Maid Runs Wkts wd nb
M Bruce 1 0 6 0 - -
W Wilson 5 1 8 1 - -
K McCrory 6.4 0 26 0 - -
A Jeffrey 7 1 21 1 - -
Barton Curry 4 0 14 0 - -
D Huey 5 0 12 1 - -