Brigade survive scare while Bready end Donemana title hopes
The Premiership race is almost certainly now a two-horse affair after Saturday's twists and turns ended with Brigade and Bready clear of the pack. For long periods of the afternoon it appeared that the whole thing was about to be blown wide open before order was restored late in the day.
Leaders Brigade posted a 3-wicket win at home to Strabane but boy did the under-strength visitors make them fight for it. The Red Caps have been really out of sorts in the past few weeks, especially with the bat, but they will take plenty of positives from a day when they matched Andy Britton's men blow for blow until the last hour.
The Tyrone side posted 216 all out as they took first use- Peter Gillespie top scoring with 68 (8 fours and 3 sixes) while Tommy Barr made 55 at the top of the order.
Vadi Murthay chipped in with a valuable 34, while Aaron Gillespie added 29 as Strabane give themselves a fighting chance, and finally something to bowl at.
Spin was once again King at Beechgrove, Ross Allen (4-26) best with the ball for the home side while Iftikhar Hussain returned figures of 3 for 49.
It worked for Strabane too however as Khushpal Singh picked up 3-41 and Tommy Barr 2-44 as the hosts slumped to 115-7 in reply. One more wicket would have made some difference but to be fair to Hussain and Rachit Gaur, they knuckled down.
Gaur, who played for the Tyrone side last season, rode his luck early on but went on to play an excellent innings of 55 not out. Hussain however was having his day in the sun and brought up his 100 just as the winning line was reached.
Strabane have every right to feel frustrated and what they would have given for 10 overs from Ryan Gallagher however this was champion stuff from the home side to win from there.
Donemana were in the last-chance saloon as they entertained Bready but the Holm side were no match for the reigning champions.
A fourth wicket stand worth 147 between Irosh Samarasooriya and Ross Dougherty (70) added to an earlier half century from David Rankin was the catalyst for the visitors to rack up an imposing total of 330.
Dwayne McGerrigle claimed 3-76 while Wiiliam McClintock, Jordan McGonigle and Bilawal Iqbal all picked up two wickets apiece as Donemana toiled in the field.
Samarasooriya played a gem of an innings as he hit 13 fours and 6 sixes in his 137 and in truth, Andrew Riddles' side never looked like getting close after that.
Levi Dougherty's 21 not out was the best of the reply as Irosh (3-22), Davy Scanlon (3-22) and Cameron Knight (3-46) teed up a hugely impressive win that keeps Bready bang in the hunt.
Having already lost at Brigade earlier in the season, much of Bready's defence of their crown will depend on the return game at Magheramason coming up in July. That could be quite an occasion with so much now at stake, however it's hard to weigh up how Donemana will keep the troops motivated for the second half of their campaign.
A summer which promised so much now looks likely to deliver very little for them for the second year running.
A solid effort from Eglinton's middle order was enough to see them record a valuable win at Coleraine on Saturday. Jamie Millar top scored with 64, while Scott Adair added 45, Mike Erlank 38, and Richard Wiley 26 not out as the visitors posted 228 for 7 in their 50 overs.
Scott Campbell's 3-57 was the pick of Coleraine's bowlers, while Varun Chopra (52) was easily the best of their batting when they took their turn.
Brian Acheson resisted bravely to make 25* at the end of the reply, however the former champions couldn't get any closer than that. Stevie Dunn (4-14) and Erlank (3-19) were the difference in the second innings as Eglinton had 61 runs to spare at the winning post.
Glendermott claimed the honours in the day's final game- an unbeaten 100 from David Cooke along with 51 from Keshan Wijerathne, 46* from Steve Moore and 42 from Alan Johnson enough to help the Rectory side to a challenging total of 297-5 against their cup semi-final opponents Ballyspallen.
Mind you an unbeaten 86 from Brendan Louw coupled with 45 from skipper Adam McDaid had put the visitors in a decent position to chase down the target
before heavy rain arrived on Bonds Street.
The outfield flooded very quickly and with the players unable to return, a quick count left the Roe Valley side needing to be 204 after 35 overs; 15 short of what they were at the time.
In the Championship, Burndennett's incredible start was maintained as they beat Fox Lodge by 50 runs meaning they have completed the first half of their league schedule with a straight six wins - Salman Ahmed again in the thick of things with a five wicket haul.
Ardmore moved into second with a thumping 9-wicket win over Killyclooney, with Jared Wilson's four wickets and an unbeaten half century from Peet Pienaar keeping them very much in the title race.
Bonds Glen's fortunes show no sign of improving after a Darnell McCallum century helped Newbuildings to the points in that one.
Meanwhile at Eglinton, Ireland Wolves completed an excellent 27-run win over Zimbabwe. The African side take on the senior Ireland team at Bready on Monday.