Brigade are the Long’s SuperValu Premier Division champions for 2019 after a topsy-turvy weekend of cricket across the North West.
The Beechgrove side had the chance to claim the title on their own steam on Saturday when they entertained second placed Eglinton. However, having won 11 straight games in the league this season, the champions-elect found themselves on the wrong end of a hammering!
Some big-hitting from Andy Millar (59), Lee Ritchie (36 not out) and Richard Wylie (34) helped the ‘Villagers’ to a competitive looking 203 all out as they batted first. Iftikhar Hussain, with 3-36, was the pick of the home side bowlers but it was their batting that was to let Brigade down.
Kyle Magee stood firm in the middle order as he made 33 in his side’s reply while skipper Britton threatened briefly, adding 23. Jamie Millar, with 3 for 20, aided by two wickets apiece for Stephen Dunn, Jack Martin and Ritchie ensured however that the home side never got close in their reply.
In the end, the Beechgrove side had to settle for 88 all out- a poor enough effort for a side that has dominated domestically this summer - and it looked like the title race was heading into the final week of the season.
Elsewhere on Saturday, Coleraine took another step towards safety as they thumped Glendermott by 137 runs. Once again it was Graham Hume who was the star of the show for the Bannsiders, the South African hitting five fours and two sixes in an unbeaten 54.
Scott Campbell made 35 and Rishi Chopra 27 in the visitors’ total of 169-8, while for Glendermott, Ben Mills picked up three wickets and Keshan Wijerathne and Alan Johnson two a-peice.
If Brigade’s batting failed to fire on Saturday then Glendermott’s fell into a hole as they were shot out here for just 32. Some fantastic seam bowling from Stephen Hutchinson with figures of 5-5 and Hume again (5-24) ensured a huge win for the Sandel Lodge side, and sent the Rectory lads to the bottom of the table.
Bready got back on the winning trail as they had 83 runs to spare over Ballyspallen. Marcus Poskitt top scored for the outgoing champions as he made 80, while David Rankin added 37 and Jamie Magee 31 in a total of 214 all out.
Graham Kennedy helped himself to figures of 5 for 35 and the same player top scored for the visitors as he made 45 in the reply. Jamie Millar added 27 to ‘Spallen’s cause, however it wasn’t to be enough as they were dismissed for 131.
Reece Kelly claimed three wickets and Irosh Samarasooriya and Davy Scanlon two each in a comfortable win for them.
Donemana easily saw off Strabane in the Tyrone derby up at the Holm. Andy McBrine hit a very brisk 60 that contained eight sixes for the hosts, whilst Bilawal Iqbal added 51, Levi Dougherty 49, Ritchie McBrine 29 and Andrew Riddles 22 in a first innings total of 250.
Aaron Gillespie, with for 4-20, was the pick of Strabane’s bowling while Kevin Gallagher claimed three wickets and Chathura Peiris two for the Red Caps.
Here again it was a sorry tale for a second innings as Strabane made just 108 in reply. Tom Harper was best of that with 29 as Iqbal (4-13) McBrine (3-44) and Jordan McGonigle (2-4) tidied up.
All that set things up nicely for the two games on Sunday, starting at Eglinton where the hosts had a chance to really serve it up to leaders, Brigade, as they entertained bottom side, Glendermott.
Once again, however, the form book was chucked out the window, albeit influenced no doubt by the fact that the Villagers made six changes to the team who defeated Brigade the previous day.
With their Second XI playing in the Ulster Plate final at Ardmore, Eglinton were forced to backfill from their thirds, and their seven game winning league run ground to a halt as a consequence.
Stuart Thompson’s 60 and 34 from Tommy Orr were by some distance the best of the home team’s total of 139 all out as Alan Johnson picked up 3-32 with the ball. Reece Laird and Steve Moore added two wickets each in a solid showing from Glendermott.
Their batting was much better than Saturday too, Scott Laird getting things going with 38 at the top of the order, while an unbroken 65-run stand between Johnson (33*) and Keshan Wijerathne (32*) got them over the winning line.
For Glendermott it could well be the win that keeps them in the Premier Division. However, for their Senior Cup final conquerors Brigade, it sealed the league title and their first ‘double’ in 46 years.
At the other end of the table it turned out to be a horrible day for Strabane as they spurned a golden opportunity to move away from trouble.
Having bowled Ballyspallen out for just 70, Tommy Barr’s side batted for a full 40 overs in reply and still came up one run short.
Graham Kennedy and Peter Gillespie both made 22 for their respective teams, Gillespie not out at the end of his team’s reply, but all out of partners at the other end.
On a day when bowlers were totally on top, Rhys Logue, Chathura Peiris and Aaron Gillespie all picked up three wickets for the Tyrone side while Stuart Kennedy and Jamie Millar did likewise for ‘Spallen.