LONG’S SUPERVALU PREMIER DIVISION
It isn’t beyond the realms of possibility that Brigade could wrap up the Long’s SuperValu Premiership title next Saturday at Ballyspallen after a compelling weekend of cricket across the North West.
It would take another strange set of results for that eventuality to come about but given that we’re still in July, it shows the extent of the Beechgrove side’s complete dominance so far this summer.
On Saturday they were much too strong for a struggling Coleraine side as Ryan Macbeth took his turn to shine for the league leaders.
The former St. Johnston pace bowler ended the game as a contest returning figures of 6-30 as the north coast side’s batting gave way. There were a couple of wickets each for Johnny Thompson and Ross Allen as well as the Bannsiders struggled to 79 all out.
It could have been even worse for the visitors too - at one stage reduced to 38 for 8 before cameos from Ali Handforth and Sher Khan got them to that final total.
Brigade didn’t get it all their own way in reply and in often difficult batting circumstances, it took them 26 overs to reach the winning line. Kyle Magee’s 29 not out came off 76 balls while David Murdock remained undefeated at the other end on 23.
With all the time in the world on their side however, the champions-elect made no mistake and now go to Ballyspallen next weekend knowing that one win and a handful of bonus points from their final four games will be enough to secure the trophy.
Bready went into the weekend in second place but Davy Scanlon’s side were blown away by Eglinton up at Magheramason.
It was a strange effort with the bat from the home side, Marcus Poskitt’s 20 the best of their bitterly disappointing total of 66 all out. Mattie Mills (3-9) and Lee Ritchie (3-29) were best with the ball for the delighted villagers.
Eglinton had started the day far from safe at the wrong end of the table however they found conditions a lot more to their liking in reply. Tommy Orr made 33 in a winning chase that took little more than 11 overs to complete.
It was a huge result for Stuart Thompson’s team, albeit the skipper wasn’t there himself to see it, preparing instead to hopefully play his part in Ireland’s Test match against England at Lords which starts on Wednesday.
His side however are now surely out of any trouble at the bottom, although this was a very poor effort from the reigning champions as any hope they had of retaining their trophy were banished.
Donemana are barely in the mix either but a narrow win at home to Ballyspallen at least kept their momentum alive.
Brendon Louw made 81, a knock that included nine fours and three sixes while Graham Kennedy added 60 (7 fours and 2 sixes) as these two put together an impressive 122-run partnership that gave the visitors early hope.
Bilawal Iqbal picked up 3 for 25, Dwayne MxGerrigle 2 for 34 and William McBrine 2 for 35 as the Roe Valley men set their hosts a competitive target of 240.
Levi Dougherty batted well for his 60 in the Holm side’s chase while William McClintock (39) and Gary (32) chipped in too. It was left to Dean Mehaffey to finish the job however as his unbeaten 34 got Donemana over the line with wickets tumbling at the other end.
The former champions had little to spare at the winning line as Graham Kennedy, with 3 for 31, and brother Stuart (2 for 55) kept the margin to just two wickets. That at least allowed ‘Spallen to take home the full set of bonus points.
The bottom end of the table is now where all the attention is focused after Strabane leap-frogged Coleraine with an emphatic win at home to Glendermott.
The Senior Cup finalists posted a total of 163 at the Park with their overseas player Keshan Wijerathne making a very composed 57. Stevie Moore added 37 while there were four wickets for Chathura Peiris and three for Aaron Gillespie for the hosts.
The Red Caps will have been happy with their work at half way and it was the same two players who took control of the reply as well.
Kevin Gallagher’s 33 got Strabane off to a solid start, and after he fell to a superb catch by Moore, Gillespie and Peiris took control.
The former finished unbeaten on 75 (11 fours and 3 sixes) and showed the quality the Warriors man has in his locker when it’s his day. Peiris rarely looked in trouble at the other end either and from nowhere, Strabane have given themselves a chance of staying up.
They have Coleraine up at the Park next Saturday when the visitors will surely have their key players in tow. It looks like being quite the tussle this one but Tommy Barr’s men will be buoyed by the fact that they looked in good touch this weekend.
At the top of the Championship, Burndennett made it nine wins from nine starts and with just three games to go they have a real chance of making it to the top flight for the first time in their history.
They had 83 runs to spare over Bond’s Glen on Saturday courtesy of some big hitting from Marty Mehaffey and Eddie McGettigan. The former blasted seven fours and seven sixes in his 89 while McGettigan had five fours and six sixes in his unbeaten 71.
The home side’s 259-8 was too many for the struggling Bee Gees despite Mattie Barr making 65 in their reply of 176
‘Dennett have a tough finish from here - Newbuildings, Ardmore and Fox Lodge now standing between them and the Premiership - although there will be no shortage of confidence either.
Newbuildings themselves lost out in a high-scoring match at home to Killyclooney on Saturday. Andre Henry hit 13 fours and six sixes in his 112 as he continued to dominate the Championship batting race. William Finlay added an unbeaten 96 as ‘Clooney posted 340-7 from their 50 overs.
Tom Riddles picked up 3-36 for Newbuildings and Darnell McCallum and Mark Hannah both made half centuries in the reply, however the hosts finished a long way behind.
The final match saw St Johnston post a really impressive 9-wicket win at home to Fox Lodge, a result that surely rules the visitors out of the promotion race.
Jack Macbeth top scored with 59 not out for the Saints as David Lapsley with 36 and Michael Rankin 30 not out kept him company.
Chasing just 138 to win, this was as straightforward as it gets for the Saints, however it waa also a performance that leaves you wondering where they’ve been all summer.