High scores, last over drama, a hat trick, and 4 centuries, all added up to an action packed opening round in the Irish Senior Cup.
At Castle Avenue, Irish skipper Trent Johnston led his side to a last over win against a strong Brigade side.Chasing 194 for victory, Johnston's unbeaten 75 saw Clontarf edge home with just 4 balls to spare in front of a large crowd. It came off just 71 balls, and included 7 fours and one towering six. There were 2 wickets each for Iftikhar Hussain, Gregory Wilson and Mark Simpson.
Earlier Brigade had been restricted to 193 for 8 in their 50 overs. Iftikhar Husain top scored with 43, while Charlie Elder hit a quick 35. Andrew Cullen, 3-28, and Alex Cusack 3-30, were best with the ball for Clontarf.
Last year's beaten finalists, Railway Union, also edged home in a close game at home to Ballyspallen. The visitors would have been happy with their score of 232 for 9, with former Irish international Richard Mc Daid top scoring with 61. He was given good support by Kyle Hunt, 37, Steven Dunn, 34, and Ivan Mc Daid, 32. Tariq, 2-24, and Irish hero Kevin O' Brien, 2-38, were the pick of the Railway attack.
O' Brien led the run chase with a fine 52, while Tariq fell just one short of a deserved half century. Railway looked in trouble at 114 for 5, but were rescued by a 78 run stand for the 6th wicket, between Tariq, and Black, who finished undefeated on 45, as Railway won by 4 wickets, with 10 balls to spare.
North Down were the highest scorers of the day, running up 315 for the loss of just 3 wickets at home to struggling Fox Lodge. David Kennedy's run feast continues unabated. He hit 114 not out, which contained 13 boundaries. His average now stands at an incredible 392! Ryan Haire joined in the fun, scoring 88, Neil Russell made 42, and Ralph Coetzee hit 38, before having to retire hurt. Only Johnny Robinson, 2-32, escaped the carnage.
An opening stand of 44 between Jason Milligan and Brian Allen offered the visitors some hope, but the dismissal of Allen for 21, opened the floodgates. Milligan battled bravely on for a well manufactured 56, but Fox Lodge were dismissed in the 42nd over with just 139 on the board. Spinner Andrew Haire picked up 3 for 7 in a 4 over spell, while the two Martins, Dalzell and Moreland, got 2 wickets each.
Ardmore had a very welcome 7 wicket win at home to a vastly understrength Civil Service North. The Bleachgreen men restricted CSN to just 146 in 34.3 overs. Colin Andrews with 60, and C Gault, 26 not out offered the only resistance. George Brolly, 4-28, pickd up his best figures in Senior Cricket, while skipper Gerard Brolly took 3 for 32, and Ciaran Curley, 2-16, also bowled well.
Despite the early loss of Paul Mc Dowell and Paul Brolly, a 90 run stand between David Mc Allister, 41 not out, and Gerard Brolly, 33 not out led Ardmore to the brink of victory. Ciaran Curley's 24 not out off 9 balls, meant an early conclusion to the game - Ardmore winners by 7 wickets, with more than 20 overs in hand.
Highest scoring game was not surprisingly at The Rectory, as The Hills and Glendermott shared nearly 600 runs between them. The Hills ran up 310 for 7, with Patrick Byrne hitting 10 fours and 2 sixes in his 96. He and Ian O' Herlihy, who hit 6 sixes and 4 fours in his 85, shared in a 138 run stand for the 4th wicket. Bryn Thomas, 41, and Barry Archer, 31 also played some fine attacking shots in an impressive batting display.
The Hills knew form their experience last year, that over 300 was no guarantee of sucess at the high scoring venue. It looked indeed as if history was going to repeat itself, as Glendermott raced to 163 for 1 in the 27th over. The introduction of the wily veteran, Matt Dwyer soon changed things. His left arm spin put a brake on the scores, and he picked up 2 for 32 in his 10 over spell. Mark Mooney was his 1st victim - the hard hitting Mooney scored 67 off just 56 balls - 6 fours and 5 sixes. His partnership with Bob Robinson was worth 124. Robinson's 64 came off 70 balls, and contained 7 fours and 3 sixes. Thomas Riddles hit a quick 46, but with an ever increasing run rate, Glendermott fell just short, scoring 286. Michael Lax took 4-47, while Dwyer, and Luke and Joe Clinton each took 2 wickets.
Strabane recovered well away at Carrickfergus, coming back from a precarious 30 for 4, to post a match winning 241 for 7. A 201 run stand from Mark and John Gillespie rescued the Tyrone side. How Carrick must rue their dropped chances, Mark Gillespie being the lucky recipient of 3 lives in his century. That frustration clearly got to Carrick, who finished their stint in the field with just 10 men. Mark Gillespie hit 111 fours and 3 sixes in his 110, while John Gillespie hit 8 fours and 2 sixes in his 81. Tony Martin with 4 for 61, and Mike Gilmour, 2-60, were best for Carrick.
In reply, both Carrick openers were run out, and despite 50 from Ryan Eagleson, Carrick were never in the hunt. Ally Mc Almont chipped in with 28, but Carrick's 149 was well short in the end. Part time bowler Mono Sharma took 2-28, while Mark Gillespie's good day continued, as he took 2 for 32.
In form Bready picked up another major scalp, as they defeated Merrion by 4 wickets. The Leinster side would have been unhappy with their below par score of just 160. Peter Blakeney top scored with 43, Beasley made 29, and Dom Joyce, 22. Skipper Trevor Hamilton took 4 for 28, while Craig Young took 3 for 37.
Bready looked as if they would coast home as David Rankin and Chris Dougherty added 55 for the first wicket without any undue cause for alarm. However, Rankin was bowled by Thinus Fourie for 19.and then Patel, 3-20, and Richard Keaveney, 2-35, brought Merrrion right back into it, and it was game on at 113 for 6. Dougherty in conjunction with Hamilton, ensured there were no futher alarms - the pair added an unbroken 48, as they got home with 10 overs in hand. Dougherty's 75 not out contained 11 fours, and the left hander continues to grow in confidence and stature.
Donemana crashed out of the competition, following a dreadful batting display away at Lurgan. Their score of just 89 was the lowest of the day, as the Tyrone team's poor recent record in this competiton continues. John Guy, 4-11, Francois Viljoen, 3-25, and Paul Stafford, 2-18, were Lurgan's heroes. Junior Mc Brine did his best to hold his side together, he hit 39 not out, but only Dale Olphert, 19, and Dwayne Mc Gerrigle, 10, of the rest of the side reached double figures.
Lurgan reached 30 without loss, and it looked as if they would ease to a comfortable win. Andrew Britton had other ideas - he took a hat trick with his first 3 deliveries, all lbw! James Mc Brine and Jordan Mc Gonigle then took a wicket each, and at 65 for 5, Lurgan were wobbling. Ian Morrison and P Haire saw them over the finish line, with a 38 run partnership.
Limavady saw off the challenge of Malahide, cruising to a 122 run win at home. Stephen Smyth hit 104 off 129 balls - 17 fours - in Limavady's 244 for 8. He and Decker Curry, 41, added 129 for the 4th wicket, as Malahide struggled to keep the pair under wraps. P Markey had the excellent analysis of 5 for 37, but the rest of the seasider's attack found it difficult.
Malahide lost Smith in the first over, and that set the tone for the rest of the innings. Only C Riches with 26, and P Markey, 24, put up any sort of a fight, as they were dismissed in the 28th over for just 122. Chris Moore picked up 5 for 32, and skipper Curry took 2 for 7.
Eglinton's recent good form continued with a 50 run win at home to Cork County. The villagers ran up 261 for 7, with Nigel Thompson hitting 55, Richard Wylie 52, and Bobby Rao 45 not out. Skipper Alastair Spratt also smashed a quick 31 not out at the end. For Cork, Prinner, Hickey and Parr all captured 2 wickets.
Cork were always up against it, but battled bravely to reach 211 for 8. Hickey made a patient 47, Prinner a more aggressive 38, and Parr a useful 31. Eglinton's attack shared the wickets, with 2 each for Richard Stewart, Wylie, and Rao.
Holders North County progressed thanks to a 4 wicket win away at Bangor. John Mooney's 63 not out saw them home after they were struggling at 68 for 4, in pursuit of Bangor's 182. R Bell, 47, and Mark Hutchinson, 44, were the main contributors for Bangor.
Rush progressed after a comfortable 6 wicket win away at Lisburn. Jamie Mulholland hit 32 in their score of 143 - Shahid Iqbal picking up 3-19. That was never going to be enough, and C Doyle, 63, and Brian O' Rourke, 40, ensured that it wasn't.
Instonians had a great win at home to Pembroke. The vistors ran up 254 for 7, thanks to 53 from Peter Davy, but Regan West hit 100, at exactly a run a ball (11 fours, 3 sixes), and Johnny Stevenson 59, to help the Shaw's Bridge progress to the next round.
Cliftonville also chased over 200 to dispose of CYM - half centuries from Richard Stirling and Johnny Terrett in their 203 for 7. C Kelly had made 57 in CYM's 202, with Brian Anderson taking 4-29.
Another high scoring encounter at Downpatrick, saw YMCA overhaul the home side's 264 for 9. The very much in form Stuart Mc Cready hit 81, Carl Hosford, 56, and E Ahmed, 50. Earlier Paul Tate, 83, (6 sixes, 4 fours, 97 balls), and Dale Mullan, 73, had rescued Downpatrick from 77 for5, but as it turned out, to no avail.
Waringstwon bowed out of the cup following a 3 wicket loss at Phoenix. Andrew Cousins, 47, and Peter Hanna, 44, helped them to 203. Phoenix got there with 3 wickets in hand - Dave Langford-Smith top scoring with 44, and P Conliffe making 38 not out.