MORE MISERY FOR NORTH WEST SIDES IN IRISH SENIOR CUP

It was another largely disappointing first round day in the Bob Kerr Irish Senior Cup with just three of the nine North West sides involved on Saturday making it through to round 2, although Coleraine's home match with Clontarf was due to finish last night.

Donemana, losing finalists in both of the last two seasons were heavily beaten at the first hurdle this time but perhaps the biggest disappointment was Brigade's thumping by Instonians.

This was supposed to be the game of the day between two of the heavyweights in their respective Unions but the visitors were able to amble to a facile win in the early evening sunshine with 9 wickets and almost 16 overs to spare.

It had all started so differently with Niall McDonnell and Chris Dougherty giving the hosts a perfect platform with an opening stand of 88, the former once again in scintillating form as he laid into the Belfast side's opening attack.

Dougherty was first out having made 26 and was replaced by Iftikhar Hussein who posted a big hundred in last week's league win over Fox Lodge. The Pakistani though scooped a simple catch to James Shannon without scoring and the wheels came off spectacularly as 7 wickets fell for just 38 runs.

McDonnell batted through the worst of it before being bowled by Wylie for 86, a knock that included 8 fours and 4 sixes. Ryan Brace at number 10 held out admirably to help drag Brigade up to 183 as Dave Jacobs returned impressive figures of 5 for 37.

Johnny Thompson breathed hope into Brigade's cause as he bowled Stevenson before Instonians had a run on the board but that was to be it. Rory McCann, very highly thought of in NCU circles lived up to his reputation in style hitting 12 fours in an unbeaten 90 and professional Jacobs turned in a man of the match performance adding 91 not out to his wicket haul in a thoroughly comfortable win.

Over in Donegal, St Johnston made a real fist of it before going down by 34 runs to Malahide. The Saints, with their ground and newly opened pavilion looking immaculate, bowled really well to contain the Dublin side early on but were unable to shift a dogged Fintan McAllister.

The former Ireland wicket keeper/ batsman carried his bat to record an unbeaten 82 as Malahide recovered from 97 for 5 to post a healthy 203 for 9 in their 50 overs. Ian MacBeth, Andrew Fleming, and Rammohan Goud all picked up a brace of wickets for the home team in a tidy performance.

Having watched McAllister anchor the first innings, Saints' skipper Andrew Fleming undertook a similar role and with a fairly similar result as he too carried his bat for an unbeaten 61. Rammohan Goud's 35 was unfortunately the only other contribution of note however at 163 for 7 the Donegal men looked on the verge of an upset.

Goud's dismissal however was the catalyst for a folding of the deck and the final three wickets mustered just 6 runs between them and Fleming stranded. That said it was a very useful performance from St Johnston on a day when many higher profile clubs were a lot less competitive.

Strabane were another local side to take their leave early when they lost at home to Merrion. The visitors batted first on a good track and despite a couple of early losses a third wicket partnership between professional Greg Clarence and John Anderson worth 177 runs set them up for their big total of 261 for 4.

Clarence was in superb touch and was out shortly after reaching his hundred whilst Anderson contributed 83 to the cause. For Strabane, Phil Eaglestone was best with the ball, the left arm seamer claiming 2 for 36.

When it came their turn to bat the hosts were almost a mirror image of the Dublin side, losing a couple of quick wickets before brothers Mark and Peter Gillespie put them back on track. At 158 for 3 the Tyrone side was bang in the hunt but when both fell, to superb catches it must be said, the game was up. Strabane were 63 adrift at the end and their disappointing Irish Senior Cup run goes on for another year.

Bready too tasted home defeat; the Magheramason side never recovering from a superb start given to YMCA by opening pair Reinhardt Strydom and Alan Lewis. The former made 64 and Lewis, a world renowned rugby referee when he isn't playing cricket added 38 in a first wicket stand of 122.

To their credit Bready plugged away and it was something of an achievement that they restricted YM to 214 in their 50 overs with Ian Young, Viraj Perera, Trevor Hamilton and Robert Rankin claiming two wickets each.

The start of Bready's reply is difficult to explain as without the steadying influence of Steven Clarke and aided by a devastating spell of bowling from Strydom they had lost half of their wickets with just 3 runs on the board.

Ian Young then brought a degree of respectability to proceedings with a battling half century but all it was doing was delaying the inevitable. Young's innings allowed Bready to get to 98 all out as Strydom finished with 5 for 25 in a one-sided contest.

Eglinton's miserable season continued with a not unexpected heavy defeat away at North County. The home side even without Ireland players Andre Botha and John Mooney proved too strong, winning at a canter by 8 wickets. Eglinton managed to post just 137, with the only significant contributions coming from skipper Andy Christie (31), Neil Stewart (30), and professional Adam Knezevic (18). There were 3 wickets apiece for James Boyland (3-35) and Conor Sheil (3-20). Knezevic (2-43), claimed the early wickets of Conor Armstrong and Brian Shields, but that was to the prove a false dawn. Richie Lawrence (53*), and Conor Sheil (44*) easing County into the next round.

Fox Lodge claimed a hard fought win on the road at Ballymena - 22 runs the margin of victory. Darryl Brown (51) and Brian Allen (40) dominated their batting in what looked a below par total of 159. They were at one stage 97-2 after a 69 run third wicket partnership between the pair, but collapsed alarmingly. Aphale (3-12), and Carl Williams (4-36) doing the damage with the ball for Ballymena. The home side showed they too weren't immune to collapse, as they slid from 39-1 to 55 for 6, bamboozled by the wiles of spinner Johnny Robinson. He had the fantastic figures of 5 for 22, as Ballymena were eventually skittled for 137 - Brown and Heywood taking two wickets apiece.

Donemana lost heavily on their trip to CIYMS in Belfast, going down to a nine wickets reversal. The father and son combination of Junior and Andy McBrine both scored half centuries as Donemana made what looked a challenging 212 for 7. The alarm bells should have been ringing that it wasn't going to be enough as Junior (67*) and Dale Olphert (30*) were able to add an unbroken 73 for the 8th wicket - 59 of those coming in the last five overs of the innings. So it proved, as CIYMS romped to the easiest of wins, with Barry Cooper (94*) and former New Zealand Test star Craig McMillan (91) putting on a match winning stand of 145 for the 2nd wicket.

There was better news on the road for Limavady who prevailed by 64 runs in a high scoring contest at Lisburn. David Cooke (95) and Decker Curry (93) the main contributors in their total of 288 for 7. The pair shared in a fourth wicket partnership of 172 runs, rolling back the years with some vintage strokeplay. Lisburn bowlers Ervine , Simpson and Atkinson each claiming two wickets. Six Lisburn batsmen reached double figures, with Halliday (40), Thompson (37), and Ervine (37) the main scorers of note. None went on to play a really substantial innings though, and Andrew Riddles (5-30) and Simon Dunn (3-49) bowled Limavady to a 64 run win.

Closest game of the day was down in the wonderful setting of Phoenix Park, where Glendermott beat the home side in a dramatic encounter which ebbed and flowed during the course of the day. Gary Neely (6-33) soon had Phoenix reeling at 8 for 3, but Dave Langford-Smith (125), and Conor Kelly (53) staged a rescue act - Phoenix eventually posting 242 for 9. The early wickets of Averill and Robinson, both to Langford-Smith meant it looked like an early exit for the Rectory side. However Stephen Smyth (72), and professional Hancke von Rauenstein (55), got them into a winning position, along with a typically quickfire 36 from Gordon Montgomery. They still needed the help of two dropped catches and four byes to help them prevail by three wicket with just a soliatary ball remaining. I suspect the journey home was not without a celebratory jar or two along the way.