Brigade stay top as they rout Glendermott
Brigade remain top of the Premier Division table after a thumping 10-wicket win over senior cup final opponents Glendermott at Beechgrove on Saturday.
This was as resounding a win as you could ever wish to see, and it leaves the Rectory side travelling to Eglinton at the start of next month knowing much, much more is required if they are to lay a glove on Andy Britton's team.
Batting conditions seemed difficult enough as the visitors were sent in first, and they were soon in trouble as Ryan Macbeth (3-24) and skipper Britton (2-9) skittled their top order for very little.
Gordon Cooke made 20 not out in the middle, after Keshan Wijerathne (16) and Gordon Montgomery (15) had fared best of the rest. Johnny Robinson (3-19) finished things off for the champions-elect as Glendermott were bowled out for just 88.
Many were expecting the home side to struggle as well, however Gareth McKeegan and David Barr soon put any theories about pitch demons to bed. McKeegan hit 5 fours and five sixes in an unbeaten 59, while Barr added 24 not out to seal the most emphatic of victories.
It was a disappointing afternoon for what turned out to be a decent crowd, and while the Beechgrove side are simply running away with the senior title at this stage, Goofer's men will need to be a lot better than this if they aren't to be blown away in the senior final.
Elsewhere, Bready stayed second in the division after they too recorded a wide margin win- this one at Strabane Park.
The visitors were concerned early on that the hosts' pitch may have been too damp for play, however it didn't prevent them from racking up an imposing 272 all out as they batted first.
David Rankin benefitted from four early reprieves as he went on to hit 13 fours and three sixes in his excellent 123, while skipper David Scanlon hit two fours and five sixes on his way to a half century.
Chathura Peiris claimed for (4-36) while Marc McNulty (2-36) and Vadi Moorthay (2-38) were best with the ball for Strabane.
The Red Caps have struggled so badly with the bat this season and it was a little surprise that they were unable to put up much of a scrap in the second half of the contest. Aaron Gillespie's 19 was best of the top order before Tom Harpur, batting at number 10, hit 45 to put some gloss on their final total.
A 48-run last wicket stand helped the hosts manage 163 in reply- not enough for even a bonus point despite the late rally.
Scanlon (3-25) was the pick of the bowlers whilst Irosh Samarasooriya, Cameron Knight and Andy Lucas all claimed two wickets each in an emphatic 109-run win.
Donemana stayed in touch as well as they wrapped up the third one-sided contest of the day, winning by 9 wickets at Sandel Lodge.
Patrick Carson top scored with 16 however there were six 'ducks' in Coleraine's effort with the bat and that saw them finish on a paltry 51 all out.
Father and son pairing Andy and Junior McBrine finished with figures of (4-14) and (4-16) respectively as the Bannsiders failed miserably to keep them at bay.
The Tyrone outfit wasted little time in rattling off the required runs- Ricky-Lee Dougherty hitting six fours and two sixes in his 41 as the Holm side raced to victory in 8 overs.
And on a day of wide margin wins and low totals it was a similar story at Eglinton where the villagers beat Ballyspallen by 125 runs.
This season more than any, battles are being won and lost depending on key players and that has been the case too at Eglinton. Stuart Thompson made 53 and Mike Erlank 41 in this one with Tommy Orr adding 29 in their total of 197 all out.
Stephen Kennedy fared best with the ball for the Roe Valley side as he picked up for 4-27 with Mark Averill adding 3-18 and Graham Kennedy 2-56. The latter was best with the bat for his side as well as he made 36, but bar Kyle Morrow's 18 there was little else to shout about for 'Spallen in the chase.
Here too it was mostly about Thompson and Erlank with the ball- the Ireland international claiming 3-9 with the South African adding 3-11 that changed the course of the contest. Simon Dunn (2-4) and Steven Dunn (2-25) tidied up after that but Ballyspallen's last five wickets fell for the addition of just 5 runs.
It looks very much now as if the race at the top seems to have been run and it is only a matter of time when Brigade will be crowned champions.
The dogfight at the bottom however is an entirely different matter, and although both Ballyspallen and Eglinton have extra wins to their credit over the bottom two- Strabane and Coleraine- none of the quartet are entirely safe just yet.
In the Championship- Burndennett's title charge keeps on rolling, although they were given a real scare in Donegal at the weekend.
Salman Ahmed took 4-11 and Mark Pollock 3-28 as St Johnston were dismissed for 72 however the league leaders found themselves in trouble in their reply when reduced to 40-5.
Mark Pollock with an unbeaten 24 and Eddie McGettigan rescued the situation however and despite Jacob Marowske's best efforts (3-10), 'Dennett got home by 5 wickets.
Giles Moan's 62 helped Killyclooney to a total of 179 as they went to Ballymagorry- Levi Kerr bowling superbly for the Foxies as he claimed 5-39 with Aaron Heywood adding 3-26.
Coenie Nel replied with 61 for the home side, however 4 wickets for Jordan Connor brought this one down to a black-ball fight. Jamie McIntyre held his nerve with 24 not out as 'Clooney just couldn't get that final wicket- Fox Lodge staying third with that 1-wicket victory.
Ardmore's game at Bonds Glen was abandoned due to a waterlogged pitch.