Barr back in command
BARR BACK IN COMMAND
Tommy Barr has spent a large part of the last five years as captain of Strabane Cricket Club and the spin bowler has the armband back again at the Park ahead of a nervy last few weeks of the regular season.
Between himself and Peter Gillespie they have pretty much steered the ship through the good and not so good times of late and Barr has recently taken over from the former Ireland International who is now of course a key part of the North West's underage coaching set-up.
Perhaps his composed nature will help the Red Caps out of their current quandary and the recipe seemed to work well on Saturday as the home side recorded an impressive win over senior cup finalists Glendermott.
It was a solid display from Strabane and gives them a chance of survival in the top flight, although the skipper was quick to point out that they have a real scrap ahead of them if they are to make that happen.
Speaking after their 8-wicket success last weekend, Barr was guarded about anybody getting ahead of themselves.
"We didn't play well in the first half of the season but at least we have given ourselves a chance with that win" he began.
"We haven't performed well with the bat and sometimes you can dig yourself into a hole that is very hard to get out of. We know we have good players at the club and we have never doubted our ability to compete in this division, but you have to do it out on the pitch and we haven't been able to do that too much so far."
The return of Kevin Gallagher seemed to settle Strabane at the weekend, as did the quality of Aaron Gillespie and Tommy agreed that that would be a factor heading into the final four matches.
"Kevin does give us good options and as you saw today he adds that bit of aggression at the top of the order. We look a bit more balanced that way and it obviously adds quite a bit of depth now to our batting.
"Everybody knows what Aaron is capable of and it was good that him and Chata (Peiris) took on the responsibility today. It was a good win for us and the boys batted really well to get us over the line."
The old saying about one swallow making a summer still applies of course and the skipper certainly wasn't getting carried away with just a second win of the season.
"We have four big games coming up and none bigger than Coleraine up here next Saturday. I have no doubt it will be really tough with two sides fighting for their lives so we have to be ready to scrap.
"As is always the case, winning always brings that extra bit of confidence but no-one here is getting carried away. Coleraine and the teams around us all have players who can turn a game singlehandedly. Graham Hume did it in the game at Sandel Lodge so we have to be on our game in that one.
"We're happy with today's win but there is a lot of work still to do over the next month. Hopefully today's performance sets our marker down and we can turn the corner from here into the last stages of the season," he concluded.
MCCLINTOCK AND RIDDLES PUT DONEMANA ON COURSE FOR T20 FINAL
Donemana look set to join Brigade in the Faughan Valley T20 finals day after a comprehensive 9-wicket win at Eglinton on Tuesday.
Half centuries from bothers Andy and Jamie Millar saw Eglinton post what looked a challenging total of 171 for 5. Andy thumped 8 fours and 3 sixes as he top scored with 73 from 54 balls, while Jamie's 52 from 36 balls contained 5 fours and 2 sixes, as the pair added 105 for the second wicket. Jordan McGonigle with 2 for 24, and Bilal Iqbal's 1 for 17 were the pick of The Holm side's attack.
The Donemana reply got off to a blistering start as Gary McClintock clubbed 8 fours and 5 sixes in a hard-hit 93 from just 58 balls, as he and skipper Andy Riddles shared an opening stand of 161.
McClintock fell from the last ball of the penultimate over with 11 needed, just missing out on a deserved century, but Riddles was unbeaten on 72 as Donemana won with an over to spare. Riddles' 72 from 55 deliveries included 5 fours and 2 sixes.
Donemana play two more games in the T20 on Sunday against leaders Brigade and Coleraine, where one win should be enough to guarantee them a place in the decider at Strabane on August 11th.
FOX LODGE KNOCK HOLDERS DONEMANA OUT OF ULSTER PLATE
Fox Lodge knocked out holders Donemana 2-1 in a bowl-out at The Holm.Lee Finlay and Jamie McIntyre struck for the Foxies, while Dean Mehaffey hit for the home side. Fox Lodge will now play either Eglinton or Bonds Glen who meet next Sunday.
KILLYCLOONEY AND FOX LODGE REACH LADIES CUP FINAL
Killyclooney and Fox Lodge will contest this yearís Ladies Cup final after the semi-finals on Monday. The non-appearance of Newbuildings meant Killyclooney didnít have to take to the park to reach the decider, but there was action at Ballymagorry in a tense encounter between the two local rivals.
A 67-run third wicket partnership between Mollie Devine (35*) and wicket-keeper Hannah McLaughlin (32*) saw the Foxies post 105 in their 20 overs.
The Burndennett chase was always just a little behind the required rate, and despite the best efforts of Julie Logue (42), they fell 24 runs short, with Devine completing a fine all-round display by claiming 3 for 12.
GALLAGHER GEARING UP FOR CRUCIAL CLASHES
Finally for this week, while Strabane were winning for just the second time this summer on Saturday, one man was hoping that the victory would act as a spur for the rest of the season for himself in particular.
Ryan Gallagher readily admits that this has been a poor year for him individually, but he feels he has the game to work his way through the lean spell. The all-rounder has been in the 30-wicket and 400-run bracket in most seasons recently, but hasn't been able to make the difference thst he would have liked this summer.
"I'm disappointed at how things have worked out so far but it's up to us as senior players to do better. The numbers aren't great this year but there's still time to turn it around."
Gallagher had harboured ambitions of making it through to the Warriors set-up but feels that ship has sailed, at least for now.
"I would have loved to have had a chance but it didn't happen when I was doing reasonably well so it will hardly happen now. I thought I might have deserved a chance in an Emerging Warriors side even and I contacted them to offer my services as a net bowler just to be involved.
"I have no complaints at present because my numbers aren't stacking up, but maybe it's not too late- who knows?"