BREADY AND COLERAINE CONTINUE TO SET THE PACE
Day one of a busy week of North West cricket saw yet more twists and turns at both ends of the Premier Division while frayed tempers made the headlines in the game between Ballyspallen and Newbuildings as the Sammy Jeffrey Shield got under way in the Championship.
Brilliant sunshine greeted players and spectators alike as the Union moved towards 12 noon starts for the remainder of the season and it turned out to be a good day too for the Premiership’s current pace-setters.
Pre-season title-favourites Brigade were the day’s biggest casualty as they fell to their fourth consecutive league defeat when they came a cropper at leaders’ Bready. Worryingly for the visitors it was again their batting that let them down as Andy Britton’s men were shot out for 92 just a day before their senior cup semi-final at the Holm.
Early wickets for Craig Young, who finished with an impressive 4-13 from his 7 overs, and Davy Scanlon (3-19) had the Beechgrove side in trouble at 19-3 right from the get-go. Cameos from skipper Britton (20), Niall McDonnell (15) and Jonny Robinson (13) gave the visitors brief hope before the bowlers regained the initiative after that.
Irosh Samarasooriya (2-23) helped tidy up as Brigade became the fourth team in seven league games this season to be dismissed for less than 100 by Scanlon’s boys.
Bready didn’t get it all their own way in reply- losing 6 wickets en route to the winning line. Britton was the pick of the visitors’ bowling- his 3-32 helping to reduce the Magheramason outfit to 58-5 and in danger of blowing it, before Andrew Austin came to their rescue.
The ‘keeper/batsman stood firm with a patient unbeaten 45 (9 fours) to keep his side very much in contention for league honours.
Brigade weren’t the only cup semi-finalists bowled out for 92 on Saturday- the same fate befalling Eglinton at home to Coleraine just 24-hours before they took on Newbuildings in the other last-four tie.
The villagers put in a disappointing shift with the bat at home to Bready last weekend and they fared little better here- as they again looked to be sorely missing Stuart Thompson. The skipper didn’t feature in either of those defeats but was expected to be available for that crunch cup clash against the Championship side.
Ross Allen (28) and Scott Adair (26) were best of Saturday’s very disappointing effort from the hosts- 23 extras accounting for most of the rest.
Graham Hume has been the man doing the bulk of the damage for Coleraine with the ball this season and the South African produced a decent spell of 1-12 from 8 overs as he and Rishi Chopra (2-18) softened Eglinton up.
Scott Campbell produced the real fireworks however; the Bannsiders’ skipper only just touching down on Thursday night after a family holiday but bowling superbly to finish with figures of 5-11.
Campbell and Tim Chopra gave their team the perfect platform after the early loss of Marcus Poskitt in reply; the pair putting together a stand of 66 that broke the back of the chase. The skipper made 32 before falling to Allen, however Chopra (48 not out) was there until the end as Coleraine kept pace with the leaders at the top of the table.
Centuries from Gary McClintock and Malith Cooray helped Donemana to run riot in the Strabane sunshine as they continued their league revival. The pair added a 164-run stand for the second wicket after McClintock and Jamie Huey had posted 67 for the first as Donemana racked up 329-6 from their 50 overs.
McClintock was finally run out for a superb 124 that came at exactly a run a ball (15 fours, 2 sixes) while Cooray hit 9 fours an a six in his 105. The Sri Lankan has really started to find his range with the sun on his back in recent weeks and the Holm side will be hoping that his run continues as the season heads into the business end.
Chathura Peiris (3-57) was the pick of the home side’s bowling as the Red Caps toiled in the heat, however Strabane started brightly in reply despite the massive target.
Peter Gillespie moved to the top of the order as the home side looked to increase their early tempo and the move worked reasonably well as the former Ireland International and Rhys Logue put on 110 for the first wicket. Just as it looked as though this could be some sort of a contest, the champions hit back- claiming 4 wickets in 9 balls to turn the match on its head.
Gillespie made 66 and Logue a patient 33 but those apart only Ryan Gallagher (24) troubled the scorers thereafter. From 110-0 the hosts were dismissed for 164 with Willie McBrine claiming three wickets and Andy McBrine, Dwayne McGerrigle and Graham Boyd two apiece as the Holm outfit continued to move into a challenging position.
The day’s final match was a real thriller which saw Ardmore lose out by just 13 runs in a low-scoring affair at Ballymagorry. The Bleachgreen side travelled to in-form Fox Lodge without an overseas professional- Grant Mokoena already back in South Africa and his targeted replacement still not in the North West, but they still managed to bowl their hosts out for what looked like an under-par 200.
Once again it was Cebo Tshiki who held things together for the Foxies- the South African making a valiant 71 (5 fours, 2 sixes) but for once he lacked support from the top order. It was left to Andrew McGinnis to accompany his “pro”; the latter belting 6 sixes and a four in his 46 to help get his team to their respectable total.
George Brolly (3-41) fared best of Ardmore’s bowling while there were two wickets apiece for Conor Brolly and skipper Gary Neely.
The visitors looked to be going well in reply- especially when Decker Curry was in the middle- but despite the left hander’s 72 (11 fours), and 33 from Ryan Brolly, they lacked that little bit of nous in the middle and lower order.
They were never at any stage completely out of the game but lost their last 5 wickets for 42 runs as Cebo made it a day to remember for himself as he picked up 5-20.
There will be other days for Ardmore to lift themselves but what a day for Brian Allen’s side as they pull another bit away from that relegation battle.
In the Sammy Jeffrey Shield, Glendermott recorded a 7-wicket win over St Johnston at the Rectory while Darren Moan hit 18 fours and 11 sixes in his 184 as Killyclooney made a match-winning 389-3 at Burndennett.
Late order runs from Richard Rodgers (75 not out), John Long (59) and Raymond Curry (49 not out) helped Bonds Glen to 267-5 as they saw off Drummond while Darnell McCallum starred for Ballyspallen who won a really bad-tempered affair at Ballyspallen.