Eglinton and Fox Lodge fly flag for NW
It was another frustrating Saturday for the North West's cricketers as the rain returned just in time to play havoc with the first round of the two All-Ireland club competitions, meaning the home sides will now have to travel for re-arranged fixtures in keeping with competition rules.
There were 5 games in the Irish Senior Cup and 4 more in the National Cup scheduled for these parts and despite the best efforts of grounds staff all over the region, not a ball was bowled in any of the nine matches.
Thankfully things weren't quite as bad for those drawn away, with results of one sort or another obtained in all but one of those- Newbuildings match at Academy in Belfast the only faller.
Performance of the day was split between Eglinton and Fox Lodge; the former recovering from last weekend's mauling by Donemana as they proved too strong for Muckamore while the Foxies are also through to the next round of the Irish Senior trophy as they continued to hold the Indian sign over Leinster.
The Ballymagorry men have now crossed swords with the southerners three times in this competition in the past six years since losing to them in 2009 and made it a third straight win as well courtesy of some excellent work from skipper Brian Allen.
The North West Development Officer was in excellent form with the bat and after Jason Milligan and Luke Hayes (13) had posted 36 for the first wicket, Allen and Milligan took the score to 93 before they lost the latter for a well-made 43.
Despite then losing a clutch of wickets, the skipper and another familiar face, Andrew McGinnis (35), posted a very valuable half-century stand to take their side past 200.
Allen was finally out just 6 runs short of a deserved century; the last of Tim Law's three wickets (3-46) but it was a magnificent effort that helped his team to 233 for 9 in their 50 overs. Joe Carroll (3-37) was the other main wicket-taker for Leinster.
Danny Coad looked solid as the hosts began the reply and despite McGinnis getting an early breakthrough, Coad and Carroll added 102 for the second wicket.
The Foxies needed a breakthrough and they got it when Milligan had Coad caught by Marco Marais for 64 (8 fours and a six). That was the catalyst for Leinster's wheels to come loose, and although Chris Janik (39) did his bit, McGinnis (3-39), Aaron Heywood (2-33) and Milligan (2-39) ensured the North West side got home with 55 runs to spare.
Fellow Championship side St Johnston were also in Dublin- Phoenix Park to be precise- but despite a really solid start the Donegal outfit were undone by a batting collapse unlikely to be bettered this season.
Alan Macbeth showed plenty of his old guile as he anchored the visitors' innings- hitting 5 fours in an unbeaten 44 that lasted just one delivery short of 100. The left-hander shared a 34-run 2nd wicket stand with his nephew, Jack, who belied his inexperience with a good effort to make 17.
David Lapsley looked in decent nick too as he made 27 (5 fours) and at 138 for 5 a total nearing 200 looked possible. Unbelievably however, the innings was to close soon after with St Johnston adding just 1 more run to be all out for 139.
Former Cayman Island International Allesandro Morris (4-23) was responsible for most of the late damage with Ireland under-19 spinner Ben White (2-31) helping tidy up, however this was a real indication of how tough life could be for David Macbeth's team this year having lost key players over the winter.
The Dublin side was never in bother after that, especially with Reinhardt Strydom in full flow. Strydom and Nicolaas Pretorious set off at a rapid rate of knots, determined not to let the elements have any say in the outcome; the openers racing to a 100-run stand in just the 7th over!
David Anthony (2-38) helped give the scoreline a touch of respectability, ending Pretorious's innings of 22 and then dismissing Masud Ahmed for 1 shortly after. Former Ireland International Strydom was on a different level however and smashed his way to a 48-ball century (18 fours and 2 sixes), before being caught by Andrew Fleming for exactly 100 right at the end.
Realistically it was always going to be a massive ask for the Boathole boys, who can hardly be looking forward either to next week's senior cup trip to Coleraine.
Ardmore got their collapse in early at Balrothery as they fell to an 8-wicket defeat against the Irish Senior Cup's all-time most successful team, North County.
The Bleachgreen side would have needed a bright start as they batted first, however Gary Neely's men lost 3 of their top 4 for just 12 runs including the vital scalps of Marlo Jardine and Decker Curry. Eddie Richardson (3-37) and Terry Richardson (3-41) doing the bulk of the damage although it was Conor Shiel (1-15) who claimed the prize wicket of Curry.
Former skipper Ciaran Curley hit 2 fours and 2 sixes in a typically robust 28 while ‘keeper/batsman Kevin Martin fared best of the top order as the North West side limped towards a recovery. Despite that however it was a record-breaking 10th wicket stand for the competition that helped the visitors to 159 all out in the end after Kashif Ali (3-20) had left the tail on the ropes.
Stephen Dunn and Conor Brolly were the men involved- Dunn the aggressor with an unbeaten 42 (6 fours) while Brolly did what he had to for his 16. The former Donemana and CIYMS player has never been a mug with the bat but this was real defiance from the number 11 and it certainly helped keep a semblance of competitiveness in the tie.
Dunn then took the ball and dismissed Jamie Grassi for 18 to get Ardmore on the board before a match-winning partnership between Conor Armstrong and Tomas Shiel took the game away completely.
Armstrong currently holds the record as top run-scorer in the history of this competition with coincidentally, Decker in 2nd place, and the leader did his standing no harm at all here with another excellent effort with the bat.
The visitors' attack battled hard; however this pair added 122; 13 fours and a six in Armstrong's 74 while Shiel was unbeaten on 55 as County strode over the winning line with 8 wickets to spare.
Despite the surprise inclusion of Craig Young, Bready's cup hopes were extinguished quite readily by Waringstown at the Lawn. Young had been at Hampshire as part of a short-term loan deal however a finger injury appears to have cut short his visit, much to skipper Davy Scanlon's relief.
That said, Young's presence was notable for his batting in this one- the current Ireland bowler top scoring with 33 on a card where the next highest contribution was 6. Cobus Pienaar (3-7), Gary Kidd (2-11), Kyle McCallan (2-20) and James McCollum (2-22) just helped themselves as Bready were all out for 70.
Scanlon bowled James Hall for 8 to ensure that it wasn't the maximum defeat and Conor Olphert had McCollum caught behind for 28 before the end, but that was to be as good as it got for the Magheramason outfit as Waringstown won by 8 wickets.
No such problems for Eglinton though as Stuart Thompson's men had 72 runs to spare at Muckamore in a contest heavily affected by rain. The villagers had reached an impressive 235 for 4 after 38 overs before the elements intervened with Andy Millar making a quick-fire 72 and skipper Thompson 65.
Oraine Williams (29), Jamie Millar (27 not out) and Andy Pierce (21) were also among the runs as the North West side took the tie by the scruff in the early exchanges.
A lengthy rain delay meant an early tea but as it was, Eglinton never got back out to finish their innings. Instead, Messrs D, L and S re-set the target to 272 to win from 38 overs and it proved too much for the hosts.
Williams (3-35) was in the thick of it early on with the ball and even an unbeaten century from Avadhoot Dandekar wasn't to be enough for Muckamore. Ryan Haire (24) fared best of the rest but two wickets apiece for Jamie and Andy Millar helped set the seal on what was a thoroughly impressive performance.
Make no mistake, Thompson's side needed this after hoisting the white flag against Donemana in the league, but this was much more like the team we've come to know.