BAD DAY AT BLACK ROCK AS TEN IS CUT TO THREE

It was always going to be a difficult day at the office for the region's cricketers given the tough draw handed out in the first round of the Bob Kerr Irish Senior Cup but few would have expected that just three sides would survive as the North West took a standing count on Saturday.

Probably the biggest shock of the day was the ease with which a much fancied Limavady side were put to the sword by Terenure; the Roesiders not coping with either the Leinster side's mat, or their opening bowler Ken Brennan. There was still no Stuart Thompson in the Limavady ranks although Zeeshan Malik and Dean Curry came into the side that lost against Strabane in the league, however Limavady never looked at ease in the conditions. Chris Moore made 18 at the top of the order but the only other player to reach double figures was Dean Curry with 10 in a shambolic performance. The visitors managed just 66 all out, Brennan with 6 for 17 the stand-out performer with the ball although former Ireland International Andre Botha and Dan van Zyl both picked up a couple. The hosts were hardly altogether convincing themselves when they came to bat but Kenny McDonald with 25 and van Zyl with 14 not out allowed them to recover from 3 for 2 to secure a 6-wicket win and end the North West side's campaign before it had begun.

Strabane are gone too; Martin Deans' side unable to pull the rug from under the cup holders although they did give them a real scare. Here again the visitors got off to an horrendous start as Kris Lyness trapped Kevin Martin lbw with his very first ball although Niall McDonnell and Mark Gillespie repaired the damage with a 53-run stand. Scoring was far from easy here too but when that pair went in quick succession, the Red Caps looked to their professional Faisal Iqbal to pick up the pace. The Pakistani has been named in his country's squad for next month's tour of Sri Lanka and in his two innings' to date for Strabane has posted unbeaten half centuries and try though they may, the NCU kingpins couldn't get him either. Iqbal and skipper Deans posted a 7thwicket partnership worth nearly 50 runs as Strabane tried to up the ante before the latter was trapped lbw by James Hall. Iqbal though stood tall with another unbeaten knock and finished 63 not out in his side's fighting total of 177. Gary Kidd with 4 for 30 fared best with the ball while professional Glen Addicott and James Hall claimed two wickets each.

The hosts' reply started really well with Simon Harrison and James Hall putting on 62 for the first wicket before Iqbal swapped bat for ball to again put his team into the match. The pitch was now taking spin and plenty of it as even Phil Eaglestone turned down the revs. From cruise control the holders were then reeling on 122 for 6, the top half including Addicott all back in the hutch with still 56 required; Iqbal and Tommy Barr seemingly sending down hand grenades as their collective 20 overs yielded just 43 runs. David Dawson and Andrew Cousins rallied the home side however and that pair dug deep to drag Waringstown towards the winning line, and although the latter fell towards the end, the game was in the bag.

There was better news for the North West at Beechgrove where Brigade overcame a stubborn challenge from Carrickfergus to take their place in the last sixteen. Ross Gelderbloem anchored the visitors' innings as he hit 11 fours and 2 sixes in making 78, sharing in a 100 run second wicket partnership with Mikey Taiaora. Alex Haggan added a very useful 43 in the middle before the home side took the final 4 wickets for just 7 runs to restrict Carrick to 212. Skipper Mark Simpson claimed 5 for 48 while new signing Harry Chappell chipped in with a couple.

Chappell has only been in the Waterside for two days but he certainly did a job for his new mates with the bat after Gelderbloem removed both Brigade openers, Mattie Moran and Gareth McKeegan with just 1 run on the board. Chappell joined Iftikhar Hussain at that delicate stage and they posted a 130-run stand that set the seal on a Brigade win. Chappell's 58 contained 7 fours and a six while Hussain went the whole hog and fired in an unbeaten century that smacked of his usual class. In the end Brigade had 6 wickets and more than 10 overs to spare and the subsequent draw gave the Beechgrove side another home tie next and the chance to avenge last year's semi final defeat when they cross swords again with holders Waringstown.

Coleraine won too, Ian McGregor's men hitting the target again after claiming their first points of the season at Fox Lodge last weekend. The skipper was in the thick of it as well as he and Scott Campbell again got them off to a superb start in an 85-run stand. Even after losing a couple of quick wickets however McGregor continued to dominate and with first Chinthaka Jayasinghe and then David Cooke joining in the fun, the Bannsiders were able to post a daunting 263 for 6 in their 50 overs. The skipper made 79 while Cooke was unbeaten on 51 and Jayasinghe out just 2 short of his half century in a solid all-round batting performance from them.

To add insult to injury the visitors could only bat nine players as Grieve and McCollum sustained injuries in the first innings but in truth they probably could have batted twice and still not got close. Openers Godbole and Johnston put on 52 for the first wicket but once they departed, the deck gave way in some style. Stevie Dunn with 5 for 30 did most of the damage but in truth this one was over as a contest a long way from home

Donemana made the journey south to face Pembroke and the Holm side also won through as they too fought back against a solid start from their opponents. Theo Lawson and Robin Kelly put on 89 for the first wicket here but scoring was fairly deliberate as the bowlers stayed with them. Paul Lawson and Barry McCarthy were also among the run s but the mean Donemana attack was giving little away as Kamran Sajid (3 for 33) and the McBrine twins Junior (4 for 26) and Junior (2 for 35) ensured they never got too far away. In the end the target was 186 but even that looked a long way off as Ryan Hunter and Kamran Sajid were both back in the pavillion with just 4 runs on the board. If the Dublin side were thinking about a party however then skipper Richard Kee and Andy McBrine soon turned the music down with a stand of 70 before the former was dismissed for 41. McBrine was then joined by his dad, Junior, and the father/ son combo were much too hot for the hosts as they cruised to the target. Andy finished unbeaten on 76 and may have had a flea in his ear from pops on the way home as the man-of-the-match was left a run short of an unbeaten half century at the winning line.

Donemana's home draw ban officially ended after the game but as luck would have it they came out of the hat second again albeit this time needing only to make the short jaunt to Coleraine. Such a pity too that two of the three local clubs left in this season's competition should be paired up so soon but both will have to put that out of their minds now and concentrate on a quarter final slot.

Elsewhere unfortunately it was a tale of woe despite some of those going down, doing so with their boots on. Bready looked to be bang on course to cause an upset at The Hills as a couple of run outs and a wicket apiece for David Scanlon and Ian Young saw the hosts reduced to 24 for 4 before Max Sorensen restored order with an excellent 67. Sorensen had good support from Tomas Murphy and Mark Dwyer before some tidy bowling from James Long evened things up. When the sums were finalised Bready needed 184 to win and David Scanlon's men would have fancied their chances before a series of setbacks turned the tide. David Barr went lbw to Naseer Shoukat and was replaced by professional Agha Sabir Ali who went lbw to Shoukat. Bryan Scanlon was then caught and bowled by Dwyer and was replaced by Brian Crumley who went lbw to Luke Clinton, soon to be followed by David Rankin who was lbw to....well you get the picture.

Ian Young, what a start to the season he is having, managed to keep his pads out of the way long enough to make a half century but despite a rearguard action from the tail the Magheramason side were an agonising 14 runs adrift at the end.

Performance of the day in defeat definitely belonged to Creevedonnell who scared the living daylights out of North County before going down by 3 wickets. It looked like a fairly straightforward afternoon for the five times winners as Eddie Richardson, Adam Coughlan, Ian Bertram and Andrew Sheridan all picked up a couple of wickets, however Nicky Cooke was proving a tougher nut to crack. Cooke has been a superb signing for Stephen Scroggie's side and his composed unbeaten 47 allowed the visitors to post a respectable 159. Respectable may have been the aim but 15 minutes into the reply the illustrious visitors were 4 for 4 and rattled to their core. Gary Neely bowled superbly, the former Ireland International really on fire at the start of this season and after his first 6 overs his figures read 6 maidens, 2 wickets for 0 runs! Jack Glenn started equally well at the other end but when you need someone to dig into the trenches in that type of situation there are few better in Irish cricket than John Mooney. The Irish International teamed up with Ciaran Garry and despite their magnificent start the Creevies couldn't split that pair until it was too late. Garry hit 5 sixes and 4 fours in his 60 and although his dismissal sparked another mini panic to take the wickets column to 7 there was to be no shifting Mooney who blasted 7 sixes and 3 fours in his match-winning 78 not out. Despite the defeat you can now sense the confidence around Creevedonnell and that may well prove a useful spin-off as the season progresses.

Confidence certainly isn't plentiful at The Rectory these days and Gordon Montgomery's side was always second best to Railway Union. Simon Killen blasted the first ball of the innings over the clubhouse roof in this one but it was to prove a false dawn as the bowlers took command . Roy Silva and skipper Montgomery's 60-run partnership gave the hosts something to build on, the Sri Lankan hitting 6 fours and 4 sixes on his way to another half century but there is absolutely no depth at Bonds Street these days and missing Bob Robinson the rest of the batting was too light. Chasing just 142 to win the visitors lost Tom Fisher in the first over but a steadying 69 not out from skipper Kevin O'Brien and a half century from Pat Collins wrapped matters up in less than 20 overs

Fox Lodge had a difficult looking task at North Down to contend with and found a bowling attack of Gavin McKenna, Martin Moreland and Peter Eakin too much for them early on. Jonny Heywood, Andrew McGinnis and Mark Mooney resisted best but a total of 142 all out never looked likely to trouble the Comber side. Ryan Haire, Andrew Sutherland and Neil Russell all got starts for the hosts and that was to be enough as they coasted home by 7 wickets.

It was even worse for Bonds Glen as they were shot out for just 49 by one of the tournament favourites, CIYMS, Taimur Khan returning the stunning figures of 8 for 21. Strangely enough the Belfast side took close on 20 overs to get 50, Chris Dougherty finishing with 24 not out in a one-horse race.