Ballyspallen relegated in bizarre twist
After a fairly low-key summer by North West standards the Premier Division relegation scrap came to a bizarre end on Sunday following an afternoon of twists and turns.
Going into Sunday the equation looked simple- new champions Brigade would brush aside bottom-of-the-table Strabane and the only issue left to decide would be which of Ballyspallen or Glendermott would contest the play-off against the Championship runners-up. The home side had an ultra-narrow 1-point advantage over Gordon Montgomery's team in the table meaning any outcome other than a Glendermott win would leave them safe.
The umpires inspected the ground at Bridge Park and although it was in reasonably good condition, the start was delayed by an hour to give the run-up ends time to dry. The game started at 1pm with 'Spallen bowling however within minutes an impasse had been reached.
While the official umpires' report has yet to be received it would appear that the umpires rejected an approach from a Ballyspallen bowler who said that conditions were too slippery. The umpires appear to have asked play to continue and when it didn't, they abandoned the match and awarded the win to Glendermott.
It was hardly an ideal end to the league season, however things then got much worse for the Roe Valley team when a Chathura Peiris-inspired Strabane pulled off a totally unexpected win over Brigade.
Peiris hit 4 fours and 10 sixes in his even time 116 while Kevin Gallagher added 36 as the Red Caps racked up a competitive 213- Andy Britton claiming the bowling honours with 4-18.
Strabane then found a slightly less-likely hero with the ball as Rhys Logue worked his way through the champions' order to finish with figures of 5-36 as the visitors were bowled out for 145- David Barr (26) and Johnny Thompson (20) the best of that.
Khushpal Purewal Singh (2-22) also bowled well for Tommy Barr's side who fluffed a chance to stun Brigade at Beechgrove earlier in the season, but who didn't miss this time.
All of a sudden, from the safety of 6th place this morning it was Ballyspallen who were now relegated and Strabane into the play-off with Glendermott joining Coleraine in the comfort zone.
The Championship race has been a straight shoot-out for the second half of the season as Ardmore and Burndennett traded blows week on week and it was to be the Bleachgreen side who just emerged victorious.
Only bonus points separated the teams heading into the final day and although 'Dennett wrapped up a quick 9-wicket win at Fox Lodge courtesy of another Salman Ahmed half century, Ardmore were proving too strong for Killyclooney by the same margin.
The visitors were dismissed for 134 with Andre Henry (27) best of that while Jared Wilson (4-25) led the charge with the ball for the home side.
Peet Pienaar- how Ardmore will miss him in the top flight- made 55 not out and Decker Curry added 41 not out as Peter Harrigan's team bounced back to the Premiership at the first time of asking.
Might be a party down the rocky road tonight....