CRICKET: Bready crown Ulster Cup champions as Strabane relegated
It may have been yet another wet weekend in a summer of incessant rain but despite the fact that only a handful of games survived the elements, this was probably the most telling few days of the domestic cricket season so far.
Brigade won the O’Neill’s Ulster Cup on Sunday - that too destroyed as a spectacle by the weather- meaning the sides had to settle it by a bowl-out which Andy Britton’s team won 3-2.
Twenty-four hours earlier it was a wildly contrasting scene at Drummond where the home team celebrated avoiding automatic relegation with a win at home to Strabane. Having just been promoted from the Championship last season, this was a magnificent achievement for Chris Moore’s team, completed as it was without the help of an overseas professional. Drummond now go to Bready on Saturday where a win there will give the Roe Valley outfit a chance even to avoid the 7th place play-off, and what a stunning effort that would be.
For Strabane however the mood was as sombre as it could ever be as they contemplated relegation for the first time in their 130-year history. This, remember is the league’s most successful club side of the past decade, having claimed the senior title three times since 2009. Ryan Gallagher’s men will now need to start again and plan a way back into the top flight in 2017.
At the other end, it is advantage Eglinton as they brushed aside a tame Bready in an 8-wicket win at Magheramason to go two points clear at the top of the table. Oraine Williams was the star of the show for the villagers as the West Indian claimed five wickets and also made 78 not out in a one-sided affair.
Donemana’s match at Ardmore and Brigade’s game at home to Coleraine were both abandoned in late afternoon meaning yet more fixtures now dragged beyond the scheduled end of season. It looks a big ask now to get them all completed; especially for Donemana who after Saturday still had six games to go as we head towards September.
There were two scheduled matches in the Championship and both were washed out as well; however the Sammy Jeffrey final between Fox Lodge and St. Johnston went ahead at Eglinton. Given the conditions, the two teams agreed to play one innings apiece and it was the league leaders who came away with the trophy after an emphatic win over the Donegal men.
Also on Sunday, Donemana got one of their outstanding league matches out of the way as they entertained battle-weary Strabane and despite dominating the contest from the start, the cup holders were very nearly crushed by the weather. They only just managed to get the game restarted with minutes to spare and Ricky-Lee Dougherty’s team wasted little time in knocking off the handful of runs still needed.