Carrickfergus maintained their Premier League title challenge with a third win from five games but North Down’s season is in freefall.

Dumped out of the Challenge Cup two weeks ago by Civil Service North in a 131 runs defeat, since then they have scored 205 against Waringstown in 25 overs and lost, crashed out of the Irish Cup by an embarrassing 216 runs and yesterday Carrick reached their victory target of 189 with more than 21 overs to spare!

Their bowling is, blatantly, a problem and it was highlighted yesterday by Mike Grosset bowling seven overs for just 11 runs leaving the other six bowlers used to concede 181 runs in 22 overs!

With the help of a crazy run out, when Ian Parkhill give up his wicket when stranded mid-pitch alongside temporary professional Nick Hornbuckle, North Down had actually reduced their hosts to 11-3 but after that the boundaries flowed.

It was an unselfish but wise decision by Parkhill to allow the South African to stay because just 82 balls later he had scored 99, with 14 fours and a six. Having moved from 91 to 99 with successive fours, he tried to reach his century in the grand manner but only reached deep mid-off.

At the other end in a wonderful stand of 162 was Michael Gilmour who was scoring even faster, his ninth four, to go with two sixes, which won the match coming from just his 53rd delivery.

The North Down professional, Ruhan Pretorius was also dismissed within sight of his century, run out when setting off too late for a easy single, on 97.

Stuart Nelson was the only other batsmen worthy of a mention, but after sharing a sixth wicket stand of 126 he was caught behind on 48 to give Daniel Poulton the first of his three late wickets — Anthony Martin had caused the early mayhem — as North Down lost four for 10 runs.

Elsewhere, there were huge wins for Civil Service North and CIYMS, who moved joint top with Waringstown on four wins.