ED JOYCE'S brilliant unbeaten 167 ensured Leinster Lightning retained their Hanley Energy Inter-Provincial crown on the second day of their Championship clash with Northern Knights at Clontarf.
Needing to reach 250 to ensure the necessary bonus points to wrap up the title, Joyce and opening partner Jack Tector started the day in positive fashion - 17 coming off Robert McKinley's first over.
However, the Instonians paceman bounced back in his next over, to strike twice by trapping Jack Tector lbw and sending John Anderson's off-stump cartwheeling two balls later.
Sean Terry survived an early scare to join Joyce in a superb 3rd wicket stand of 144 in 33.3 overs as Lightning took a firm grip on the contest.
The Hill's top-order batsman hit 73 from 113 balls (10 fours, 2 sixes) being particularly savage on anything remotely loose, employing the pull shot to great effect.
Terry's fine knock was ended when he edged Nikolai Smith behind just after lunch, and that was the cue for a sensational spell by Shane Getkate, who captured four wickets as Lightning went from 225 for 3 to 241 for 7.
Getkate (4-62) was twice on a hat-trick as Lorcan Tucker and Eddie Richardson fell first ball, with Kevin O'Brien and George Dockrell his other victims.
Tyrone Kane joined Joyce and the Merrion pair set about rebuilding the innings in positive fashion to once again wrest the initIative firmly back in Lightning's favour.
Kane smashed 8 fours and 2 sixes in a brilliant 75 from 81 balls as he and Joyce added 138 in just 25 overs for the 8th wicket.
The day belonged to Joyce who made his second century of the Championship - the 47th of his first-class career - as he never gave a chance in his 246-ball master-class.
He stroked 24 boundaries and smashed one six over the pavilion as all the Knights bowlers tried to break his defences.
Lightning eventually declared 188 ahead to give them 23 overs to make inroads into the Knights line-up and they did just that, taking five wickets before the close.
Tyrone Kane had Nikolai Smith caught behind, before both Kevin O'Brien and George Dockrell gained two lbw verdicts apiece to leave Knights reeling on 72 for 5.
O'Brien trapped Chris Dougherty (23) and James McCollum, while Dockrell dismissed nightwatchman Nathan Smith and John Matchett in successive deliveries.
It will take a herculean effort if Knights are to salvage anything from the contest, with their best hopes centering on their skipper James Shannon who was unbeaten on 14 when the stumps were pulled.
HANLEY ENERGY INTERPROVINCIAL CHAMPIONSHIP
At Castle Avenue, Day 2 of 3
Northern Knights 195 and 72-5 (23 overs; C Dougherty 23, G Dockrell 2-2, K O'Brien 2-17)
Leinster Lightning 383-8 (88.3 overs; E Joyce 167*, T Kane 75, S Terry 73; S Getkate 4-62, R McKinley 2-79)