Coleraine and Donemana set the pace
CLEAR BLUE WATER FOR COLERAINE AND DONEMANA
More Saturday rain threatened to play havoc with the domestic schedule once again this week however perseverance paid off in the end as all the games in the Long's SuperValu league managed to reach a conclusion.
The big winners were Coleraine who stayed in pole position in the table thanks to an ultimately cosy victory at home to Brigade, while Donemana stayed right on the Bannsiders' tail with a similarly impressive win at home to Fox Lodge.
Ardmore broke their duck for the season as Gary Neely's men proved too strong for bottom side Drummond while a Trevor Garwe century was the difference between the teams as Eglinton ended Bready's good run in impressive style.
In the Championship there were only a couple of games down for decision as Ballyspallen had earlier agreed to postpone their match with Burndennett so as to let the Tyrone side began the 600-plus mile round trip to Midleton in Cork for Sunday's National Cup tie.
In the matches that were played, leaders Killyclooney marked their fourth home game in a row with a fourth straight win, but were made to scrap every inch of the way by battling St Johnston. Just the minimum 1 wicket separated the sides at the end as Darren Moan's team put the pace to the Championship title race.
Elsewhere Glendermott are back in the hunt for honours after they comfortably dispatched Bonds Glen- half centuries for overseas man Sheldon Pillay and former Rectory skipper Gordon Montgomery enough to secure the points for them.
We begin the Premiership round-up however at Sandel Lodge where Coleraine came out on top in a low-scoring contest in which the bowlers were mainly on top for most of the day.
Brigade's openers started well after Andy Britton's team had been put in to bat; David Barr and Gareth McKeegan managing to dig in for the first 12 overs in a 37-run stand. Once Stephen Hutchinson found his range with the swinging ball however the picture changed very quickly as the left-arm seamer tore into the visitors' top order.
From 37-0 Brigade found themselves pinned to the ropes on 45-5 with Hutchinson (5-30) claiming the lot for himself. Barr made 25 of those, however Johnny Thompson was holding things together as best he could at one end. The Warriors man was forced to watch as one by one his team-mates gave way; only Jonny Robinson (14) troubling the scorers to any degree thereafter.
Thompson was the last to go- bowled for 38 by the dangerous Graham Hume (4-19)- as Brigade were dismissed for just 112.
If Coleraine thought they would just knock those off however they were in for a real surprise as Britton found conditions to his liking too. The Brigade skipper was at the top of his game and by the time the sides went for tea, six overs into the reply, the home team were already 3 wickets down.
Marcus Poskitt was still there however and after the break, he and Rishi Chopra steadied the ship a little before Thompson trapped the latter in front for 13. That left the score 54 for 4 and with the home side still the best part of 60 runs short the Beechgrove outfit were well in the hunt again.
Poskitt however was having none of that as the 16-year old showed that the pitch was perfectly playable with a succession of classy drives and cuts. With the experienced Steve Lazars for company this pair set about getting Coleraine over the line- Poskitt cutting loose in the latter stages to finish with an excellent unbeaten 67 as the leaders won by six wickets.
The youngster has been promoted to the top of Coleraine's order this season and on the strength of this it is easy to see why. It may have been his first senior half-century but given the quality of the opposition, the struggles of nearly every other batsman and the prize at stake, it certainly won't be his last.
It was a bad day at the office for Brigade and coming hot on the heels of last weekend's loss to Donemana in the league and unfortunate bowl-out reverse at Ballyspallen in the cup, they need to find their form very quickly.
Donemana continue to pose a massive threat to Coleraine's title hopes however and the champions also made it four out of four with an easy victory at home to Fox Lodge. The game was substantially rain affected and eventually reduced to 38 overs a side with the visitors first to bat.
Jason Milligan (41) fared the best of the top order however the wily spin of Jordan McGonigle (3-14) and Andy McBrine (2-27) kept the Premiership new-boys on a fairly tight rein throughout. At 83-5 it seemed as though an early finish may be on the cards before a 65-run partnership between Andrew McGinnis and Luke Hayes gave the visitors hope.
McGinnis was in cavalier mode, belting 4 fours and 4 sixes in his 57 before Kyle Dougherty (2-48) removed them both to restore order. Jordan Austin (14*) and Aaron Heywood added 24 more at the end to give their side something to defend- a final total of 182 for 9 still well with the compass of Ricky-Lee Dougherty's men.
And so it proved as the hosts comfortably chased down the target with little fuss despite the early loss of opener Tom Riddles. Overseas man Imran Butt hit 7 fours and 4 sixes before being dismissed for 76, however Andy McBrine (44*) and William McClintock (44) saw to it that the points would be staying at the Holm.
Eglinton helped themselves to a much-needed win as well after a Trevor Garwe "ton" saw them hammer Bready by 158 runs.
The Zimbabwean hit 8 fours and 2 sixes in his 101 with good support coming from Andy Millar (54), Richard Wylie (38) and Stuart Thompson (21) as the villagers posted 261-8 from their 50 overs.
Bready were without skipper Davy Scanlon who is on holiday but his new-ball replacement, Reece Kelly, sent down an excellent spell of 5-44 from his 10 overs.
The reply however was soon in trouble as Eglinton's attack combined to good effect early on. Jamie Millar (2-5), Thompson (2-24), Ross Allen (2-26) and Garwe (2-27) and Jamie Millar were all among the wickets as the Magheramason side slumped to 49-7 before Kelly again provided stubborn resistance.
The teenager remained unbeaten on 36, but apart from David Rankin's 13, no other batsman reached double figures as Richard Wylie (2-20) mopped up to leave Bready well adrift at the end.
The final game of the day saw Ardmore prove too strong for struggling Drummond, leaving the Roe Valley side now staring down both barrels after just four games.
Paul McDowell (53), Rameez Alam (48) and Kevin Martin (30) fared best with the bat as Ardmore made 197-7 in an innings reduced by interruptions to 33 overs. "Old hands" Ricky McDaid (3-40) and Chris Moore (2-7) were the most successful of Drummond's attack while the visitors were set a revised DLS target of 207 to win as they took their turn to bat.
In truth it never looked likely despite Adam McDaid (42) and Andy Christie (32) posting a 64-run stand for the second wicket. The clock was ticking as the asking rate escalated and despite late cameos from Curtis McElwee (30) and skipper Moore (27), Drummond came up 38 runs short.
Decker Curry (3-34), Rameez (3-38) and skipper Gary Neely (2-45) were all on the money for the Bleachgreen side who will breathe a little more easily after this win. Whether they can use it as a launch-pad for an assault on the top half of the table remains to be seen but for Drummond, things have certainly now become a lot tougher.