Donemana claim first blood in title race
DONEMANA CLAIM FIRST BLOOD IN TITLE RACE
Despite the inclement weather on Saturday there was a full programme of cricket played in both the Long's SuperValu Premiership and Championship divisions, with several telling results at both ends of the top-flight table. It was a testament to both players and umpires that they got all the games played because with a heavy schedule looming over the next couple of weeks, organisers could ill-afford a fixture backlog at this stage of the season.
Brigade are the first to blink in the race for the senior title- Andy Britton's men were very much second best to dominant Donemana at Beechgrove as the reigning champions showed they could be hard to work with this season again.
Coleraine were equally impressive as they chased down nearly 200 at Eglinton without batting an eye and the Bannsiders look to have a great chance to get among the medals this summer if current form is anything to go by.
Bready pulled victory from the jaws of defeat as Ardmore's lower order unravelled dramatically at Magheramason in the day's nail-biter. It's as good a start as the Magheramason club has enjoyed for quite a few seasons but they themselves must be wondering how they won this one.
Fox Lodge opened their account with a big win at Drummond while in the second tier, Killyclooney enjoyed another wide- margin success as they thumped Bonds Glen by the full 10 wickets.
Strabane lost their unbeaten tag; going down by 31 runs at neighbouring Burndennett but we start with the big game of the day at Beechgrove where Donemana showed their class in an impressive display against the title favourites.
The game, like all the others, was affected by the elements and after a long delay in mid-afternoon was finally reduced to 34 overs a side. Brigade batted first but were soon in bother following a couple of run-outs and early wickets for most of the visiting bowlers.
Niall McDonnell fared best of the top order as he made 22 but it needed Johnny Thompson's 33 to give the home side any real momentum to their innings. Even so, the hosts only had 102 in the bank when William McBrine bowled Thompson, before Andy Britton finally gave his bowlers something to work with.
Britton clubbed four big sixes and three fours in his 47 as Brigade closed on a respectable 170-8 withe the aforementioned McBrine (2-35) the most successful of the bowlers.
The visitors lost both openers- Tom Riddles and Imran Butt- with just 24 on the board before William McClintock took the reply by the scruff of the neck. The 20-year old dominated partnerships with Andrew Riddles (13) and Kyle Dougherty (19) that took last season's double winners to within sight of the target.
An unbroken fifth wicket partnership with Ricky-Lee Dougherty (15 not out) sealed the deal for Donemana with McClintock unbeaten on 77 (5 sixes, 5 fours) when the winning runs were struck with more than 7 overs to spare.
This was a real statement of intent from Andy McBrine's team who had that much to spare that the Ireland International didn't even have to "pad up" in the second innings.
Coleraine are keeping the champions company in the table however and David Cooke's men enjoyed another bloodless victory as they had 8 wickets to spare down at Eglinton.
The villagers also started slowly and were kept quiet early on as the Bannsiders' bowlers were all among the wickets. Overseas man Trevor Garwe (33) and Ross Allen (16) were the best of it as Stuart Thompson's team slumped to 107-6. The skipper (27) and Richard Wylie repaired the damage with a 74-run stand but despite an excellent 59 from Wylie, and an impressive 22 not out from young Tommy Orr, the innings closed on 196 all out.
Stevie Dunn (3-24) was best with the ball while Scott Campbell (2-24) provided good support and the former skipper was on the money again as the north coast side chased down the target easily.
Campbell has started the season with a real flourish and he was again the mainstay here as he made 62 and his new opening partner Marcus Poskitt added 17 to give Coleraine their platform. And it was an advantage they were never to lose as new batsmen Tim Chopra and Rishi Chopra steered the ship home from there.
Tim was unbeaten on 55 at the end and his nephew had 37 as the pair added an unbroken stand of 80 that allowed Coleraine to retain top spot in stunning style.
The closest finish of the day came at Magheramason where Ardmore somehow managed to lose having been 191 for 5 chasing 214.
A 61-run opening stand between Paul McDowell and Ciaran Curley (who both made 31) was followed by knocks of 50 from Rameez Alam and then 36 from Kevin Martin as the Bleachgreen men appeared to be well on top against a Bready side who themselves have started the summer well.
The game seemed to turn on Rameez's dismissal however after the Pakistani batsman, hampered by a hamstring problem, chopped one from Davy Scanlon onto his stumps.
Ardmore imploded after that, Craig Young wreaking havoc in the lower order as he helped himself to 5-49- his second "fivefor" in four days following on from similar exploits in this week's Interprovincial match at Eglinton. Ardmore's lower order had no answer to the Ireland pace-man with those last 5 wickets falling for just 16 runs.
Earlier, a determined effort from David Rankin had paved the way for Bready's total as the Warriors opener made 86 while Young (40) and Kyle Hamilton (38) had also batted very well. Visiting skipper Neely (3-32) and overseas man Alam (3-38) were best with the ball but while this was a real "bonus" win for Bready, Neely's men will be wondering how on earth they didn't claim a first victory of the season.
The final game of the quartet saw Fox Lodge travel to Drummond with both teams still searching for their first wins as well.
Brian Allen's outfit have been competitive in the majority of their games so far since being promoted at the end of 2016 and they travelled as favourites against a home side clearly struggling at the moment.
Drummond batted first and with plenty of rain around the Roe Valley as well, the interruptions did little to help their cause. Only Adam McDaid (42) offered much in the way of resistance, and the host's woes were summed up by the fact that the only other person to get into double figures was Ricky McDaid with 13.
Aaron Heywood helped himself to figures of 3-19 while Jamie McIntyre and Luke Hayes both picked up 2-21 as Drummond were dismissed for 105.
Worse was to follow as another couple of hours rain brought a DLS calculation into play and given the Ballymagorry side's dominance to that point it was no surprise that the revised target was little more than a "gimme".
Asked to score just 77 in 25 overs the Foxies made very short work of that, although Jamie Millar (2-30) struck late for Drummond to ensure it wasn't a complete rout.
Jason Milligan with an unbeaten 43 and Dean McCarter (26) combined to make sure of Brian Allen's first Premier League win since returning to the top flight, but for Chris Moore's men, the alarm bells continue to ring.