Brigade win again to inch closer to title
Brigade won for the 11th straight time in the Premiership but will have to wait a little while longer to lift the trophy as both Bready and Eglinton won thrillers by one and two runs respectively. They meet each other in their rearranged fixture next Sunday after the Senior Cup final.
It has been one of the most one-sided league campaigns in years and Brigadeís relentless march towards the title saw them brush aside the challenge of Ballyspallen at Bridge Park.
It was a familiar story as skipper Andy Britton and Ryan MacBeth took early wickets and kept things tight, and there was no respite from the Beechgrove side as Johnny Thompson, Ifty Hussain and Johnny Robinson took two wickets apiece to dismiss the hosts for 135.
Stuart Kennedy (26) offered some late resistance, while Jamie Millarís 25 was the best of the top order, who never really recovered from the loss of overseas player Brendan Louw without scoring.
Such a modest target was never likely to prove much trouble to the much vaunted Brigade top order and that was how it transpired, as David Barr and Gareth McKeegan (27) out on an opening stand of 47.
Stephen Kennedy slowed the charge with two wickets, but Barr and Ross Allen (23) added 73 for the third wicket, with Barr hitting 12 fours and 2 sixes in his unbeaten 74 from 90 balls.
The loss keeps Ballyspallen right in the relegation mire, with just five points separating them, Glendermott and Strabane.
There was a real thriller at The Rectory where Glendermott almost pulled off a fantastic run chase against Bready. Needing 272 for the win, Scott Laird (38) and Gordon Montgomery (20) saw them race out of the traps. Keshan Wijerathne (37) and David Cooke (18) kept them on track as they reached 141 for 3.
Conor Olphert (3-45) and Reece Kelly (2-27) then inspired a mid-inning collapse and at 152 for 7, Bready seemed on course for a comprehensive win. However the home side rallied as Alan Johnson (43), Ben Mills (43*) and Ryan Barr (21) all dug deep to leave the equation as eight from the last over. The wily Trevor Hamilton used all his guile to keep them to two singles from the first five balls, meaning six was needed from the final ball. Mills made good contact but his leg side heave fell short of the rope, leaving Bready winners by one run, and keeping the defending championsí slim title hopes alive.
Bready's innings of 271 was dominated by Irosh Samarasoorya, who hit 19 fours and 5 sixes in a quite brilliant unbeaten 164, sharing stands of 88 with Reece Kelly (16) and 97 with Conor Olphert (18*).
There was another thriller at The Holm where Eglinton completed the league double over Donemana, winning a real nail-biter by two runs.
Jamie Millar top scored despite having to retire half-way through his innings with a hamstring injury. But like Gordon Greenidge used to, the affliction only served to inspire the talented middle-order player, as he struck 6 fours and 4 sixes in his 63 from 60 balls, adding what proved a valuable 67 for the ninth wicket with Matty Mills, who made a run-a-ball 24 to take the visitors to 217. Former Irish internationals Jordan McGonigle and Dwayne McGerrigle each taking four wickets apiece, while William McClintock claimed two.
The Donemana reply started disastrously as they slumped to 15 for 4. William McClintock launched a blistering counter-attack as he clubbed 6 sixes and 5 fours in his 66 from just 34 balls, sharing a fifth wicket stand of 99 with Bilal Iqbal (30).
Dwayne McGerrigle kept the charge going with an even time 58 which included 7 sixes, and his belligerent knock seemed to be taking Donemana to victory before being dismissed by Matty Mills (3-18).
Lee Ritchie then became the hero as he claimed the last two wickets to give himself a five-wicket haul as the villagers won by two runs and move into second place going into the final month of the campaign.
Perhaps the most important game of the day was at Strabane where the hosts were taking on bottom side Coleraine in a must-win game for both.
Batting first the hosts were in a little trouble as they slipped to 42 for 3, with overseas player Chathura Peiris one of the victims. However cometh the hour, cometh the man, with Aaron Gillespie playing another major innings.
The Ireland A player added 76 for the fourth wicket with his uncle Peter (41), and then added a further 77 with Ryan Gallagher (34) as Coleraine wilted.
Gillespie top scored with 83 from 103 balls, hitting 6 fours and 3 sixes in an excellent innings which saw the Red Caps post 226 for 8. Rishi Chopra (4-34) and Scott Campbell (3-37) were best with the ball for the Bannsiders.
The Coleraine chase never got any traction, as Aaron Gillespie removed Campbell second ball. Overseas professional Graham Hume was one of Ryan Gallagherís four wickets, while the impressive Peiris (3-9) ensured an emphatic 92-run win despite the best efforts of Matthew Hutchinson (46).
In the Championship, Peet Pienaarís fifth century of the season ensured Ardmore stay on the tails of Burndennett as they chased down 236 to beat Newbuildings by five wickets. Pienaar now has 1159 runs this season at an average of just under 90.
David Anthony took seven wickets as St Johnston bowled out Killyclooney for 110, but the Donegal aide fell 10 runs short in a tense chase.
Fox Lodge kept their promotion hopes alive too as they beat a spirited Bonds Glen side by 25 runs at Ballymagorry. An opening stand of 104 between Jason Milligan (59) and Barry Scott (45) helped them to 204. The Bee Gees battled bravely with Raymond Curry hitting 49, but came up short. It promises to be a thrilling few weeks in the Championship race, with all the top three facing each other next month.
At The Rectory, Bready (20pts) beat Glendermott (5pts) by 1 run
Bready 271/6 (50 overs; I Samarasooriya 164*, D Rankin 27; B Mills 3-31)
Glendermott 270/9 (50 overs; B Mills 43*, A Johnson 43, S Laird 38, K Wijerathne 37, R Barr 21, G Montgomery 20; C Olphert 3-45; R Kelly 2-27)
At The Holm, Eglinton (20pts) beat Donemana (5pts) by 2 runs
Eglinton 217 (39.4 overs; J Millar 63, M Erlank 45, M Mills 24; J McGonigle 4-44, D McGerrigle 4-62, W McClintock 2-19)
Donemana 215 (37.3 overs; W McClintock 66, D McGerrigle 58, B Iqbal 30; L Ritchie 5-36, M Mills 3-18)
At Bridge Park, Brigade (24 pts) beat Ballyspallen (1pt) by 7 wickets
Ballyspallen 135 (49.4 overs; Stu. Kennedy 26, J Millar 25; J Robinson 2-13, J Thompson 2-21, R MacBeth 2-22, I Hussain 2-25)
Brigade 139/3 (27.2 overs; D Barr 74*, G McKeegan 27*, R Allen 23; Ste Kennedy 2-29)
At Strabane Park, Strabane (24pts) beat Coleraine (1pt) by 92 runs
Strabane 226/8 (50 overs; A Gillespie 83, P Gillespie 41, R Gallagher 34, K Gallagher 21; R Chopra 4-34, S Campbell 3-37)
Coleraine 134 (36.2 overs; M Hutchinson 46, P Carson 24; R Gallagher 4-37, C Peiris 3-9)
At The Boathole, Killyclooney (20pts) beat St Johnston (5pts) by 10 runs
Killyclooney 110 (33.1 overs; G Moan 22, A Henry 20; D Anthony 7-36)
St Johnston 100 (31.4 overs; A Henry 3-7, G Nelson 2-22)
At FoyleView, Ardmore (23pts) beat Newbuildings (2pts) by 5 wickest
Newbuildings 236/8 (D McCallum 94, M Hanna 27, J McCorkell 24, T Killen 21*; J Wilson 2-32, P Brolly 2-41)
Ardmore 237/5 (38.1 overs; P Pienaar 117*, P Harrigan 26, P McDowell 24; T Killen 2-37)
At Ballymagorry, Fox Lodge (21pts) beat Bonds Glen (4pts) by 25 runs
Fox Lodge 204 (42.5 overs; J Milligan 59, B Scott 45, C Nel 29; R Curry 3-21, E Roberts 2-36, L Britton 2-41, K Moore 2-43)
Bonds Glen 179 (39 overs;R Curry 49, M Barr 24, E Roberts 20; C Nel 3-27, A Walker 2-28)