CRICKET: Big win for Saints as rain hampers Championship

Graham Sweeney batting for Brigade II's during their match against Coleraine. INLS2616-111KM

Graham Sweeney batting for Brigade II's during their match against Coleraine. INLS2616-111KM

There was a real dearth of action in the Long’s SuperValu Championship on Saturday with rain accounting for the big game of the day between Fox Lodge and Glendermott, as well as Newbuildings match at home to Burndennett.

Obviously with three of the top four teams in the table not playing, the focus changed to the equally important scrap at the bottom and it proved to be a telling afternoon for at least one of those involved.

It has been a very difficult 12 months for St Johnston not only in terms of relegation from the top flight but also in that they lost key players like Kevin Martin, Ryan Macbeth, Khushpal Singh and Jassi Wallia and the impact has been clear to see. Confidence was hit hard at the start of the season before a really silly 1-point deduction for failing to submit a captain’s report bit at their core.

An injury to Ian Macbeth didn’t help but in the last couple of weeks there have been definite signs that things might be about to improve. They came close to getting their first points against Burndennett last time out but on Saturday produced their best performance of the summer so far to beat fellow strugglers Bonds Glen at the Boathole.

The form of North West chairman, Andrew Fleming, has coincided with the upturn in fortunes and he was in good nick again on Saturday as the Saints made it 7th time lucky.

Fleming hit 5 fours and a six in his 62 while David Lapsley joined the party with 5 fours and 3 sixes as he added 57 as the hosts made an imposing 237-7 from their allotted overs.

David Macbeth (38) and Ian (28) chipped in with useful cameos as well, while for the visitors, David Robinson, Graham Boyd and Derek Curry all picked up two wickets apiece.

The Bee Gees have been struggling for runs themselves this season and they came up some way short in the reply. David Robinson top scored with 26 while Colly Robinson added 23 but it was never going to be enough.

David Lapsley laid down his claim to “Player of the Week” by following up his half century with four wickets while Nathan Cole added three and David Anthony two as Bonds Glen slumped to 116 all out.

It’s getting tight at the bottom at the half-way point of the season with the win leaving St Johnston one behind Saturday’s opponents while Burndennett aren’t out of danger either albeit they have four with a game in hand.

In the only other match played, Killyclooney closed the gap on Ballyspallen in fourth to just two points with an impressive win down at the Roe Valley venue.

The visitors batted first here and were indebted to an excellent knock from their overseas man, Andre Henry, as they made an imposing 266-8 from their 50 overs.

The Jamaican hit 13 fours and 2 sixes as he made 81 while Darren Moan hit 4 fours and 3 sixes in his 56.

Richard McMorris (32*) and Alan Colhoun (26) also contributed while Creighton Wilson, James Thompson and Lee Ritchie all managed two wickets each for the home side.

As always, ‘Spallen were competitive in reply with Graham Kennedy continuing his good run of form with 9 fours and 2 sixes in his 66. Tyrone Webster added 54 (8 fours and a six) while another in-form man, Ivan Hill-Nicholl chipped in with 41.

Mattie Barr (4-10) was the main reason the Bridge Park side were unable to pull off the chase however; he and William Finlay (2-33) doing enough to ensure a 46 run win for ’Clooney.

The North West have already released dates for the washed out games with Newbuildings entertaining Burndennett this coming Sunday (3 July) while the top-of-the-table clash will be played next Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings at Ballymagorry.