NW CRICKET: Brigade, Coleraine up ante as title race set to go to the wire

Bready celebrate their O'Neill's Ulster Plate victory on Sunday.

Bready celebrate their O'Neill's Ulster Plate victory on Sunday.

Despite heading into September we’re still no closer to finding out who will be crowned 2016 Long’s SuperValu North West champions after Brigade and Coleraine turned the screw with crucial wins on Saturday.

The Beechgrove men came out on top of a thriller away at leaders Eglinton by a quickly diminishing two wickets while Coleraine were too strong for Ardmore despite Decker Curry posting a 99th lifetime century at the home of the current champions.

All four sides are still mathematically in with a chance of winning the division but next Saturday’s game between Brigade and Coleraine at Beechgrove now looks massive.

Donemana had requested the weekend off before the start of the season owing to a wedding and the cup holders will have been kicking their heels in frustration that, with five games still to play, it was an ideal couple of days to get their schedule reduced weather-wise.

Ricky-Lee Dougherty’s team were due to start the first of their outstanding matches at home to Drummond last night however it is understood the game is the subject of a protest by another club on the basis that it has gone beyond the North West Union’s stated policy of 29 allowable days for a replay. The match was originally scheduled to be played on July 9th, however it was re-arranged on a couple of occasions since but then had to be postponed again for a bereavement, and then ground unavailability respectively.

So while that quintet will sort the destination of the title out between them, Bready and Drummond scrapped it out to see which of them would be consigned to seventh place and the end-of-season promotion/relegation play-off. It turned out to be an entertaining contest that went the way of the home side, meaning it’s the newly promoted Roe Valley club that should finish 7th.

The big game in the Championship came on Sunday and after Fox Lodge’s match with Killyclooney 24 hours earlier was washed out, the Ballymagorry side clinched promotion with success at Ballyspallen. Brian Allen’s men have been a long way the best team in the league this year and after coming so close in 2015, have now secured their just rewards. Fittingly, skipper Allen scored a superb unbeaten century to send his team back to the top flight next year.

Also on Sunday Bready 2nd XI won the O’Neill’s Ulster Plate after defeating Brigade by seven wickets in the final at Eglinton.