The North West’s record in the Irish Senior Cup has been anything but impressive for a decade or more but there can surely be fewer more disappointing first rounds than this one since the competition began.
Eight teams set out on Saturday on journeys of varying length and by the end of the day just one, Strabane, had survived an otherwise total first round cull.
The Red Caps travelled to the Mardyke to tackle Cork County and survived by the skin of their teeth to claim the region’s “last man standing” accolade after a single round of matches.
Rhys Logue held the top order together as he made 40 after the Park team had opted to bat first but not for the first time it was Peter Gillespie who landed the telling blow. The former Ireland International hit 8 fours and a six on his way to 82 with good support coming from Ryan Gallagher who made 31.
Aaron Gillespie’s 18 was next best while debutant Rachit Gaur chipped in with 17 down the order as the Tyrone side posted 222 for 8 from their 5r0 overs. M Bauer (4-44) and D Carey (2-42) were best with the ball for the Leesiders who then had several chances to claim something of a surprise win.
Ross Durity and Cormac Hassett got he ball rolling with a first wicket stand worth 54 before Rob Duggan joined Durity in a partnership worth 64. Strangely, the top three were allrun out and that, coupled with a good spell from Gallagher (4-31) let Strabane back in.
Tommy Barr’s side looked to have matters well in hand with the last pairat the wicket needing more than 40 to win but Cork very nearly pulled it off- Meads with an unbeaten 28 before Aaron Gillespie wrapped it up with the visitors just 4 runs ahead.
It may have been close in Cork butthings were even more interesting at the Holm where Donemana threw it away against one of the tournament favorites, Merrion.
The visitors’ top three were all among the runs here- John Anderson with 78, Dom Joyce 72 and Jack Carty also 72 while Patrick Tice added a valuable 32 down the order. Despite 95runs coming in the last 10 overs the Dubliners closed on 295-7 from their 50 overs- a good, but not unbeatable score at the Tyrone village.
Graham Boyd (3-44) was the pick of the North West men’s bowling and they were in early trouble in their reply as Poonish Mehta and Tyrone Kane combined to reduce the hosts to 35-3. Malith Cooray’s 32 steadied things a little but Donemana needed more and they got it in a superb partnership between Andy McBrine and Gary McClintock.
This pair took on all comers and they looked to have the double-winners coasting at 250-4; needing just 46 more to win. McBrine made 90 and McClintock 85, but just as they seemed to be about to post a straightforward win, Kane (3-30) and Mehta (3-45) intervened.
Donemana lost their discipline with the bat when all they needed was to push the ball around and they were given an additional boost when despite countless reminders from the umpires, the visitors were hit with 6-penalty runs at the end of the penultimate over for a slow rate.
Instead of needing 12 off Kane’s last they now needed 6 and with “TK” on the money throughout, it came down to Andrew Riddles needing one to tie and 2 to win off the final delivery, however the bowler found a screamer of a Yorker to send the visitors into wild celebration.
League leaders Bready fared little better after a Marc Ellison century gave Civil Service North an advantage they were never to lose at Magheramason. Ellison hit 15 fours and 2 sixes on his way to 131- sharing in a stand of 166 with Aaron Wright who made 69.
Craig Young (4-33) and Davy Scanlon (3-40) had given the home side a cracking start, but a total of 243-8 now looked very competitive.
And so it proved as the bowling unit were soon on the mark- Graham McCarter (2-31) and Andre Malan (2-43) on target early for them. Irosh Samarasooriya offered Bready hope with 42 while Andy Lucas (38 not out) and Ryan Barr (26) resisted late on.
It was to be scant consolation however- Ben Adair (3-18) and Steve Ross (3-39) closing out a 73-run win for the NCU side.
Brigade came a cropper too- losing by 102 runs to Clontarf at Castle Avenue. Obus Pienaar was heavily involved, not for the first time against a North West side, as his 92 and runs from Waqar Azmat (50), Bill Coughlan (46) and Andrew Poynter (32) helped the home side to 263-7 in their allotted overs.
Johnny Thompson (2-38), Andy Britton (2-52) and Jonny Robinson (2-60) were best with the ball for the Waterside team, but Brigade struggled with the bat in reply.
Thompson’s 59 was by far the best of it with cameosfrom Gareth McKeegan (23) and David Barr (21) at the top of the order-Pienaar having his say again with 3-44 as Brigade were dismissed for 161.
Leinster were pretty much on top throughout as they won at Eglinton and despite a decent effort from the home team with the bat, the southerners had 7 wickets to spare at the end.
Karl O’Doherty (40), Mike Erlank (39) Stuart Thompson (36) and Ross Allen (30) helped the villagers to 217-7 in their 50 while Dockrell, Hamad, and Conaty claimed a couple of wickets apiece.
Ian O’Herlihy (34) and Greth Delany (25) gave the visitors a solid start before Patil chipped in with 37, but the real damage came in an unbroken 106-run partnership between George (64 not out and Joe Carroll (55 not out).
Allen picked up 2-46 as the villagers tried manfully to break through but it is Leinster who advanced to Round 2.
Coleraine were undone by a solid batting effort from Jack Burton (87) and Daniel Boulton (65) as Carrick racked up 237-8 in their game at Middle Road. The Bannsiders rarely threatened to chase those down- only Graham Hume (30) and Marcus Poskitt (28) offering much in the way of resistance as they were all out for118.
Ryan Eagleson showed plenty of his quality and craft as he claimed 5-15 in an excellent spell with the ball for the home side.
Ardmore fell by the wayside too- Kevin Martin top scoring with 60 for them and Decker Curry adding 34 in a total of 190 at Phoenix Park.
Richie Lawrence (74 not out) and Brad Kneebone (63) saw the home side safely past the target with 6 wickets to spare- Gary Neely’s excellent 2-20 from his 10 overs a top effort in the circumstances.
And the North West’s miserable afternoon was complete with defeat for Fox Lodge at home to North Down. Brian Allen’s 62 was by some way the best of the home team’s165 all out- StuartNelson (3-27) and Mike Grossett (2-42) doing the bulk of the damage with the ball.
Alistair Shields continued to show his form as he made 80 in reply- LeeFinlay’s 2-23 helping to at least keep things respectable as the visitors won by 5 wickets.