The 2003 final was played at Stormont and, in glorious weather, Andrew continued where he left off, with 80 runs, ably supported by Robin Haire (50). Martin Moreland and Marty Dalzell took three wickets each and a telling first innings lead of 47 runs was ‘in the bag’. In the second innings ‘DK’ Kennedy (93 no) was rampant, and for once someone outshone ‘Whitey’ with the bat, but only just, as he registered another half century. It left the Villagers an imposing target of 258 runs to win and they were never in the hunt, finishing 95 runs short.
The 2004 Senior Challenge Cup defence started at Bangor 12 days after the surprise league defeat, but there was no upset in the cup as Ryan Haire (103 no) and young Gavin McKenna (four for 45) ensured a seven wickets win. Woodvale came to The Green and posted 170 for 6, but Ryan’s undefeated 45 was enough to secure a comfortable five wickets win and a semi-final trip to the Meadow in Downpatrick. David Kennedy stole the show with an innings of 119, but although Downpatrick came within four runs of the 250 target, they succumbed under great North Down pressure.
The final against Belfast Harlequins at Stormont was a great game, ‘DK’ showing his class once again with an unbeaten first innings century and opener Jo Montgomery hitting 72. Harlequins were 43 runs short at the end of the first day, but North Down’s modest 165 for 8 in their second innings left the door open and Harlequins captain Wayne Horwood accepted the challenge. Wayne batted beautifully and appeared to be comfortably winning the cup, when Peter Shields made a surprise bowling change and brought part-time bowler Kennedy into the action. It proved inspired captaincy, as ‘DK’ claimed Horwood’s wicket with a ‘caught and bowled’ and took two for four to win the game! It was the first ball of the only over that he bowled all season and he hasn’t bowled since! Needless to say there was never any doubt as to who would win the Man of the Match award!
David Kennedy was awarded the Larry Warke batting trophy at the NCU Dinner and became the first player to win it at two different clubs, having won it at Ballymena in 1998.
The 2007 Cup Final against Waringstown at The Meadow in the special anniversary year was a thriller. Chasing 189 for victory in the first one day final, North Down lost the early wicket of Neil Russell, 61 runs were added by Ryan Haire and David Kennedy and when the Haire wicket fell, Kennedy took over. His controlled innings of 80 was a match winner and it was left to Marty Moreland to provide ‘one shot more’ to bring off a win that seemed to encapsulate all the emotions of our previous 30 Senior Challenge Cup wins. It wasn’t the absorbing contest that the neutral craved, but there weren’t many neutrals in the ground and the win was a magnificent anniversary present.
One of the best batsmen to play at The Green, David was a high order batsman who made major contributions particularly in the big games. He was a good slip fielder who bowled one critical over in the cup final against Belfast Harlequins. Never bowled before or after! (more to follow)