GILLESPIE GLITTERS IN WARRIORS GLOOM
Last weekend was a blank one with all fixtures postponed due to the Warriors involvement in the T20 interpro festival in Dublin. It was a bitterly disappointing weekend for the NW side as they lost all three games by wide margins to finish third in the table.
One of the few positives to emerge from the weekend was the form of Strabane’s Aaron Gillespie, who was named in the top five players of the event, following his 80 against Munster Knights and 34 against eventual champions Leinster Lightning.
Is the short format one that Gillespie particularly enjoys?
“T20 was an enjoyable weekend with all four teams participating at the one venue (Pembroke) which was hosted magnificently,” said Gillespie. “From a team point of view, it was disappointing with no wins from three but we played a lot of good cricket in patches.
“Personally, it was great to continue to score runs and keep the form that I’ve had going into the tournament.”
Gillespie’s strong form of recent years has earned him a call up to the Ireland A (Wolves) for their ongoing tour in Forfarshire against their Scottish counterparts. Was that an expected elevation?
“To be honest I was shocked once I heard as I wasn’t expecting it, but it was certainly a nice surprise to get.
“It’s an honour and as a cricketer it’s the next step to take to fulfil the dream of playing full international cricket at the highest level.”
Aaron will be hoping to follow in the footsteps of his uncles Peter and Mark, both of whom played senior international cricket for Ireland.
They, along with his father John and uncle Michael, formed a quartet of brothers who captured the Irish senior cup 20 years ago when they beat Ballymena.
The current Strabane team have a chance to emulate the class of 98 as they take on Dublin side Phoenix in the quarter-finals on Sunday. It’s a huge weekend for Strabane as they travel to Ardmore on Saturday in a Premier League game too.
“It’s obviously a pivotal weekend for us but confidence is high around the club at the minute and we will be looking to make it two wins from two.
“Although they are near the foot of the table, Ardmore are a good side with experienced, talented players and we know it going to be a tricky game but confident we can come away with a win.
“Phoenix are kind of an unknown side to us, but with Ryan Gallagher playing there previously, it’ll give us some insight for us to prepare towards.
“The mood in the camp is positive, and if we can secure two victories then it will set us perfectly going into the second half of the season.”
IRELAND RECOGNITION FOR DALZELL
There was further good news for the NW, with the inclusion of Alana Dalzell in the Ireland Under 19 which will play in the prestigious Malvern Festival in Worcestershire later this month.
The Bready pace bowling all-rounder captained the NW in two games against the NCU at Stormont last week, and has played a pivotal role in Bready’s success in recent years, winning the Player of the Match in the 2016 Cup final win at Burndennett.
BRITTON BELTS IT
There was a glimpse of the future at St Johnston this week as Donemana played the hosts in the semi-final of the Under 11 Cup.
The Saints won an entertaining high scoring game thanks to half centuries from Scott MacBeth and Harry Pearson.
However, Donemana battled bravely and despite being understrength almost pulled off a famous win thanks to a century opening partnership from Adam Britton and Harry Dougherty.
Britton hit five sixes in an entertaining 88, while Dougherty batted superbly in an unbeaten 40, but their side fell just short.
St Johnston will meet Strabane in the final, after their convincing 10-wicket win over Ballyspallen.
DISAPPOINTMENT FOR SION IN CUP
Three Tyrone sides were in action in the semi-finals of the Qualifying One Cup, but only Donemana emerged victorious, and they will play Eglinton in the final at Ardmore at the start of August.
Ryan O’Neill (30) and Jordan Stewart (28) were the main scorers for Sion Mills as they made a disappointing total of 112 at home to Eglinton. Richard Keys (4-27) and Neil Stewart (4-18) each took four wickets.
Veteran Lee McGonagle took three early wickets to give Sion hope, but an unbeaten 32 from Stewart and a run-a-ball 26 from Jack Martin guided Eglinton over the line in a five-wicket win.
At Ballymagorry, Fox Lodge posted 218 against Donemana with Clive Allen hitting 12 boundaries as he top-scored with 63. Jordan Austin (26*) and Travis Nicholl (20) also made useful contributions. Junior McBrine (3-19), Ritchie McBrine (2-39) and Levi Dougherty (2-42) were best with the ball for the visitors.
A potentially tricky chase was made to look easy by the powerful Donemana top order, with Lexie Boyd hitting 12 fours and 2 sixes in a top score of 77. Scott Laird hit 8 fours and a six in his 33-ball 48, while teenager Levi Dougherty clubbed four sixes in a quickfire 48 as he and Boyd added 99 for the second wicket – Donemana coasting to a six-wicket win with 11 overs to spare.
TYRONE SIDES TO THE FORE IN ULSTER PLATE
There’s more cup action for Tyrone teams on Sunday as Bready and Donemana are involved in the semi-finals of the Ulster Plate.
Two-times winners Bready travel to the NCU to face Muckamore, while Donemana have the short trip to the Bleachgreen to take on Ardmore in the all North-West clash.