It was a case of yet more misery for the North West's cricketers on Saturday as the entire programme scheduled for the region was washed away in the endless rain of the past few days. Five matches in the Bob Kerr Irish Senior Cup had been pencilled in for these parts and credit Fox Lodge who realised early in the week that their ground was unlikely to be fit to host their game against Leinster and arranged to travel to Dublin instead.
The others- Limavady, Strabane, Bready and Brigade will now have to travel as fixtures are of course reversed in this tournament if they aren't played at the first attempt. To add insult to injury, of the three sides who did travel only Donemana made it through although it has to be said that none of them had particularly enviable draws to contend with.
Glendermott had been handed the toughest ask of the lot, travelling to one of the tournament favourites Railway Union and if that wasn't bad enough, Ireland head coach Phil Simmons had given the International players permission to play in the competition despite Sunday's Friends Provident game. That left Bob Robinson's threadbare side facing an already formidable opponent bolstered by the availability of Trent Johnston and Kevin O'Brien in a contest that bore the look of a total mis-match.
And what looked one-sided on paper lived up to the billing on grass as Glendermott were dismissed for just 69 runs. The Rectory side did at least spare themselves the ignominy of a maximum defeat by taking a couple of their hosts' wickets but the outcome was ultimately as comprehensive as had been anticipated. It could have been a lot worse for the visitors as well as their total of 69 included 38 not out from their West Indian Lendell Richardson and a further 16 in extras, which left very little to be shared between the rest.
Elsewhere, Donemana batted first against Malahide and they too were dependent on their overseas man as the impressive Azhar Shaffique made 62 of their 165 all out. Surprisingly no-one else made a telling contribution of over 20 although most of the middle order made starts, but the never-say-die attitude of the Tyrone side saw their bowlers really put the squeeze on a formidable Malahide batting line up. Junior McBrine bowled a phenomenal spell taking 2 wickets and conceding just 17 runs from his ten overs and he was well supported by twin brother James who kept it just as tight at the other end.
Azhar Shaffique completed a man-of-the-match performance claiming four wickets for 38 runs as the home side were reeling on 94 for 8, before a ninth wicket partnership threatened to pull off an unlikely home win. Cometh the hour and all that though and former Ireland spin bowler Jordan McGonagle got in on the act as he cleaned up the tail with Malahide just 18 runs short of their target. The former skipper finished with 3 for 28 to provide the perfect back up to the strike bowlers and help close out the victory. That was a big win for the reigning North West Champions and will be just the boost that skipper Dwayne McGarrigle would have been looking for as they plot a course to repeat last year's heroics when they marched all the way to the final.
Fox Lodge weren't able to make their decision to travel to Dublin for their game pay off as they were very much second best to a more than useful Leinster side. The Foxes managed to unsettle their opponents early on as Andy Britton removed both openers but that was to be as good as it got for them as the home team piled on the runs thereafter. A target of 262 was always going to be beyond Gary Neely's men, particularly in the face of some superb bowling and despite a defiant knock of 44 from South African Darryl Brown the visitors ended up over 150 runs light. The Ballymagorry men are no doubt more concerned with the domestic competitions but will probably still be a little disappointed at the margin of victory. The other two North West sides still in the competition following
Killymallaght's preliminary round defeat, Coleraine and Eglinton, were both drawn to travel to Belfast but here again no play was possible. The Bannsiders game with Lisburn was called off on Friday evening as indeed were the majority of the washed out contests. Unfortunately for Eglinton however their trip to CIYMS was in vain as the game was abandoned without a ball being bowled. The club themselves made no comment about the situation but they must have been bitterly disappointed that their hosts allowed them to travel at a time when all hands would have been required on deck at their own ground ahead of Sunday's Ireland v Hampshire game at the Village.
Cork Harlequins were blown away literally and metaphorically as Pembroke swept to a 10 wicket victory at blustery Sydney Parade. After Bill Whaley (1 for 14) and Graham McDonnell (1 for 20) had taken out the top of the Cork order, the spinners did the rest of the damage wth Anthony Brookes (3 for 19), Andy Balbirnie (2 for 16) and Andrew Leonard (2 for 1) working their way through the rest of the batting. They dismissed the visitors for just 89 in the 34th over. Visiting skipper Morné Bauer top scored with 25 and was dismissed unusually. He played forward and was rapped on the pad. While he awaited umpire Joe Connolly's decision, Andrew Leonard at gully noticed he was out of his ground and threw the stumps down before Bauer had a chance to get back. Andy Balbirnie (52*) and Brián O'Rourke (27*) knocked off the required runs in 17.1 overs.
Instonians were invited to bat on one of Mat Dwyer's ‘Test' pitches. Divan van Wyk ran himself out in the first over going for a non-existent leg-bye. Andy White was lbw to Luke Clinton for 26 (35 balls). A few others played airy shots and the Hills snaffled everything. Rory McCann was the sole rock in the innings as wickets 7, 8 and 9 all fell to full-tosses (two lbw, one bowled) in short order. McCann was eventually bowled by Sorensen for 56 (103 balls) and the final total was 120 (11 extra, 10 wides) all out in 43.5 brisk overs; probably only half of a decent target. In the bowling, the pick was Albert van der Merwe with 3-17 off his ten; Mark Dwyer picked up 2-4 off his four overs at the death; Jeremy Bray's swingers and seamers were a revelation with an economical 27 runs off his ten, with one wicket. The Hills batted 40 minutes before tea and Bray and Patrick Byrne threatened to finish the job and Inst quickly lapsed into a lack-lustre attitude (with the notable exception of McCann). After tea Bray (74*) and Bryne 37*) finished the job in brilliant sunshine. Inst used eight bowlers.
At Clontarf, Carrickfergus having lost the toss and been inserted, the visitors were soon in trouble at the hands of captain Joe Morrissey and Alex Cusack, subsiding to 7 for 3 after 5 overs. Batting 3, skipper Ryan Eagleson added a bit of backbone, with help from Haire and McCalmont, being eighth out in the 36th over for top score 38. The last wicket was the best stand –32. It took Carrickfergus almost 43 overs to stagger to 125. Primary wicket-takers were Cusack (3/14 off 7), Morrissey (2/11 off 7), Conor Darcy (2/12 off 6) and Rod Hokin (2/46 off 9). Clontarf's reply started inauspiciously, the first 6 overs bringing a mere 8 runs for the loss of both openers. Hokin and Andrew Poynter then set about doing some serious business (Hokin grafting and Poynter being a bit more adventurous) and took the score to 90 before the Irish international skied to mid-on, having scored 55. Cusack joined Hokin and saw things to a conclusion in the 38th over, the latter ending on 40 n.o. and the former 21 n.o. By far the most economical bowler was Ryan Eagleson with 1/12 off 5.
Rush won the toss and asked North Down to bat first. It was a decision that Rush might have had second thoughts about as the away side began to run away with the game from the off.Things were not helped with at least 7 dropped catches and at one stage at total of 350 plus looked on the cards. However Rush came back in the last 10 overs of the innings with Shaukat taking 2 for 52 as Down reached 302 for 7 in their allotted overs. Brian Haire making 91 before being run out and Johnny Terrett making a quick fired 55. Rush got off to the worst of starts and were 3 down for 21 very quickly with the pace of Connell and McKenna too strong for the home side.Enter Iqram and Shaukat as the impossible began to look possible while the two senior Rush players began to take the attack to North Down.At one stage 10 an over was needed but it didn't daunt either player as they mounted an aggressive array of big shots, before Iqram was finally out for a fantastic 106, quickly followed by a century from Shaukat as well.Their stand was worth 191 for the 4th wicket.But as the chase continued wickets began to tumble and Rush fell away valiantly to 268 all out just 34 runs short.Peter Connell taking 2 for 18.
Ballymena was happy to have travelled south, as many of the matches 'up north' had been rained off, it appeared on Saturday morning. So on a good mood they batted first, only to suffer a few quick wickets to an enthousiastic Merrion side. They recovered but no batsman could do real damage to the Merrion bowlers, with Petrie recording the best bowling figures, taking 3 wickest for a modest 13 runs. Having bowled Ballymena out for a total of 111 in 44 overs, Merrion looked to be cruising towards a sunny win. Anderson (42 not out) and Joyce (61 not out) opened the batting and, helped by a few misfields and extras, they reached the target of 112 in 24 overs.