Brigade on course for title
The Premier Division trophy has been destined for the Beechgrove cabinet for several weeks now and its arrival is all the more imminent after another profitable Saturday for the champions-elect.
Andy Britton's side proved much too strong for Coleraine as expected- recording an 8-wicket win over the former champions- a result that chips another 24 points into the title pot.
The Bannsiders never got to terms with the hosts' bowling on Saturday, Ryan Macbeth outstanding for Brigade as he returned figures of 6-30.
A 9th wicket stand of 39 between Alistair Handforth and Sher Khan, who both scored 21, was the only thing preventing this from becoming a rout, albeit it was only temporary respite.
Johnny Thompson (2-10) and Ross Allen (2-15) provided solid support to Macbeth as Coleraine were dismissed for 79, and the game was as good as over after that.
David Barr was out for 18 early in the reply, however Kyle Magee with a very patient 29 not out and David Murdock with 23* tied up the loose ends- Graham Hume and Varun Chopra with a wicket each for the visitors.
It has been a while since the North West senior title has been won with this sort of authority and the Limavady Road side is showing no signs of easing up either with a senior cup final looming.
The day's major surprise saw second-placed Bready skittled for just 66 at home to Eglinton. Marcus Poskitt made 20 and Ross Dougherty 19 for the Magheramason outfit, however it was a sorry looking card after that.
Mattie Mills (3-9), Lee Ritchie (3-29) and Mike Erlank (2-11) were the men on the mark as the champions' batting imploded.
Tommy Orr hit 33 and Erlank 17 not out as the villagers romped to a 9-wicket win that sees them all but secure their top flight status. On the flip side, Bready's reign as title holders is at an end and while Davy Scanlon's men were one of the few to keep Brigade honest, the game looks up now.
Donemana moved past the Magheramason outfit in the table courtesy of a 2-wicket win over Ballyspallen in a match notable for being played without independent umpires. The Union has cited a chronic shortage of officials available this weekend for the fact that there were none available for the game, however it looked a very strange scenario nonetheless.
The visitors were indebted to a 122-run stand between Brendon Louw (81) and Graham Kennedy (60) as they posted a very respectable total of 240 all out. Bilawal Iqbal (3-25), Dwayne McGerrigle (2-34) and William McBrine (2-35) fared best with the ball for the Holm side.
Donemana seemed to struggle in reply and at 199-7 it was anyone's game. Levi Dougherty made 60 of those, with William McClintock (39)and Gary McClintock (32) chipping in as well, however it took a late unbeaten 34 from Dean Mehaffey to get them over the line.
The Kennedy brothers- Graham (3-31) and Stuart (2-55) were the pick with the ball for 'Spallen however the win points stayed in Tyrone.
This would have been closer than Donemana wanted to get, but it was a fair effort from the Roe Valley side in defeat. The consolation for them is all 5 bonus points as they bid to stay away from the basement battle.
In the day's final game, Strabane recorded what could be a pivotal win for them as they beat Glendermott by 8 wickets. The visitors struggled with the bat having opted to take first use and the Red Caps' bowling kept them on a fairly tight rein throughout.
Keshan Wijerathne steadied the ship after an opening burst from Chathura Peiris (4-20) and Aaron Gillespie (3-32) had them reeling at 42-5 early on.
Wijerathne made 57- valuable runs in the grander scheme of things- however it was an innings 120 balls in the making as Strabane kept the pressure on. Steve Moore added 37 at a more generous pace and their efforts combined to set Tommy Barr's team a target of 164 to win.
The home side's batting has been letting them down of late but they were at their best on Saturday as they set off in chase.
The early loss of Rhys Logue didn't affect Strabane too much as Aaron Gillespie and Kevin Gallagher (33) easily repaired the damage. And even after Gallagher's dismissal the Tyrone side kept the foot down, showing that there were no demons in the pitch as Gillespie and Peiris filled their boots.
The Warriors player looked back to his best as he hit 11 fours and 3 sixes in his 75 not out with the Sri Lankan unbeaten on 37 at the other end in an unbroken 92-run stand.
A wide-margin win this for Barr's team that sets them up nicely for their crucial game against Coleraine at the Park next weekend.
There is so much at stake in that one however the hosts have at least given themselves a fighting chance now of avoiding the automatic drop.
In the Championship, there were no sign of nerves from leaders Burndennett as they racked up 257- 8 in their game at home to Bonds Glen. Marty Mehaffey with 89 and 71 not out from Eddie McGettigan did the bulk of the damage with the bat for the leaders.
Mattie Barr's 65 was the best of the Bee Gees' 176 all out in reply as Mark Mooney's side took another step closer to top-flight cricket next season.
Jack Macbeth's unbeaten 59 along with 36 from David Lapsley and 30 not out from Michael Rankin eased St Johnston to a convincing 9-wicket win over Fox Lodge after the visitors had been bowled out for 137.