ARMAGH deserved all the headlines on the opening day of the Premier League season with victory in their first top flight match for 60 years but they had to share them with the shock defeats of Waringstown and CIYMS.
The two teams who are expected to fight it out for the title again this season — there was only 0.2 of a run between them last year — will have to come from behind after Carrickfergus won at The Lawn and North Down stormed back from the dead to beat CIYMS.
Carrickfergus’ victory was particularly impressive with an opening stand of 86 between captain Iain Parkhill and Michael Gilmour giving the visitors the perfect start before finishing on 209 for five and then Matty McCord, on his Premier League debut, after moving from Cliftonville, enjoyed similar success with the new ball.
He removed James Hall and Lee Nelson with successive balls in his fifth over and completed a hat-trick of lbws with the first ball of his sixth to dismiss James McCollum.
With Adam Dennison run out for 10, the champions found themselves 30 for four and although a fifth wicket stand of 121 between Shaheen Khan (53) and captain Greg Thompson (63) put Waringstown back on course — either side of a hailstorm! — a fourth leg before decision of the innings for Ryan Eagleson against Shaheen led to five wickets falling for 20 runs and a Carrick victory by 15 runs (DLS).
There was an even more dramatic collapse at The Green as CIYMS, needing 40 runs with five wickets left and 10 from 20 balls with three wickets in hand, contrived to lose by three runs.
While Nigel Jones was in the middle it was a stroll for last year’s runners-up, but on 53 Ruhan Pretorius snared his wicket. Trevor Britton soon followed to give the South African his fifth wicket and North Down were suddenly favourites.
But James Cameron-Dow, in the first match of his second spell with CI, and Jason van der Merwe, held back by injury to No 9, then added a valuable 28 to put the visitors back in control.
However, needing only singles, both threw it away. Cameron-Dow went for a big hit off Ryan Haire and was bowled. In the next over van der Merwe took a heave at Peter Eakin and edged to keeper Jay Hunter and, inevitably, a run out involving Nos 10 and 11 finished the innings with four balls unused.
Eakin (52) and Hunter (34) were also the heroes with the bat, rescuing North Down from the perils of 56 for six to be all out in the last over for 169.
Armagh will probably have to rely a lot on their new overseas professional Shadley van Schlkwyk this season and he came up with the goods on Saturday. First he hit 56 of the newcomers’ 171 — no-one else made more than 18 — and then took two for 15 from eight overs as Muckamore were bowled out in the 37th over for 101. Neil Gelston played his part with the ball, with the excellent figures of 10-0-21-3.
Instonians won the other game thanks to a fine bowling and fielding display at Stormont as they comfortably defended 249 (James Shannon 75) against Civil Service North who failed to score a boundary in the last nine overs despite new professional Andre Malan hitting 90. They fell 17 runs short.