Strabane came agonizingly close to bringing another trophy to Tyrone, beaten in a real thriller by Glendermott in a two-innings Sammy Jeffrey contest that ebbed and flowed throughout.

Faced with a first-innings deficit of 26, Strabane’s second-innings saw them make 213 with half centuries for Aaron Gillespie and Rhys Logue. When Tom Harpur dismissed Glendermott professional Nauman Anwar first ball it looked as if it would be their day. However, the Rectory side pipped them at the post in a match that will live long in the memory.

“There’s no doubt that this was the most thrilling game played at the new Strabane Park, with Glendermott just doing enough to get themselves across the line,” said Strabane Coach Michael Gillespie.

“That was indicative of a match where there was so little between the two teams. The loss of Aaron cheaply in the first innings meant we got an under-par 150, with Tanvir Hassan and Khuspal Purewal both getting 30s. It looked as if Nauman Anwar was going to take the game away completely from us as he raced out of the blocks with a quickfire 42. He looks like a complete player, a really class act and we were relieved when he was dismissed by Tanvir, hitting against the spin to the longest part of the ground.

“We did really well in the second innings with a century stand between Rhys Logue and Aaron, but just when it looked as if we would make 240 plus, a silly run out changed the complexion of the game, and the innings faltered to 213. Still 188 gave the bowlers something to bowl at, and when Tom Harpur got the wicket of Nauman first ball, I’m sure everyone thought that the game was over.

“However, what happened after that was a credit to Glendermott, for the way they dug in and showed their depth, that they weren’t just a one-man side. Once again Bob Robinson was in the runs, putting on a century stand with Todd Killen, who made 50s, and that was the partnership that won the game. Cameos from Reece Laird and Stevie Moore put Glendermott in charge, but we dragged it back. They though just about held their nerve, with Tylor Moore getting the five needed from the last three balls.

“Sometimes these results are just written in the stars. One of the great backstories to the game was the fact that one of their players, young Curtis Ross, lost his father suddenly a few weeks ago. The Glendermott club rallied around him, showing support by wearing t-shirts and black armbands. It was perhaps fitting and pre-ordained that he would be in the middle when the winning runs were scored.

“There were great celebrations from their players and fans, and rightly so. After the game both teams relived the contest over a few beers and a sing-song, which is what makes cricket unique from my perspective. It was great to see the sides mingling, enjoying the occasion, and it was quite emotional to witness that camaraderie. It was a fitting end to a memorable two days.”

While the Sammy Jeffrey Shield may have eluded Strabane, it has been a very successful campaign for the club, as they captured the Eric Cooke Cup.

“We came within a whisker of winning two trophies, and for a relatively inexperienced side, that was some achievement,” said Gillespie.

“We were bolstered at the start of the season by some players from Dublin, and a special mention to Ehtesham Ahmed, who really added quality, galvanizing the side in those early weeks when we were in a tough group, acquitted ourselves well, setting us up for the year ahead.

“We had hoped to get a coach in, but Covid put a stop to that, so Peter and myself took on the coaching role, and the turn-out at training all year has been fantastic. Overall, it has been a very enjoyable season, and a great one for Aaron Gillespie in his first year as the captain. I thought he led the side superbly and really motivated the group, who bonded well as a team. We are all already looking forward to 2022!”