Having been pushing on the door of senior cricket for the past couple of seasons there will be few who would begrudge Ballyspallen their return to the Championship after the Bridge Park outfit beat Creevedonnell in Sunday’s promotion/relegation play-off at the Bleachgreen.
Hard work, and plenty of it, has gone into rebuilding the club’s infrastructure in recent years and their weekend win now means that they are in great shape both on and off the field for their return to the senior ranks next summer.
The Roe Valley men batted first in the play-off showdown and showed the type of form that took them to current second place in the league behind winners Donemana.
Stephen Kennedy hit 10 fours and a six as he made a quality 80 while Graeme added a valuable 46. Ivan Hill-Nicholl (33) and Kyle Martin (33 not out) kept the runs flowing while Jordan Curry (2-29) and Don Dougherty (2-42) fought hard for beleaguered ’Donnell.
A final total of 252 for 6 looked too many for a side that has struggled really badly since losing their talented professional, Jean Symes, and so it proved.
Dougherty complimented his wickets with a top score of 32 while Andy Barr (22) offered some resistance before the inevitable end.
Creighton Wilson (4-23), Stephen Kennedy (3-20) and Kyle Martin (2-11) were the men on the mark for dominant ’Spallen as they won with tons in hand.
It’s difficult to argue that this has been the most frustrating of seasons for Creevedonnell and the Curryfree Road side have now paid a heavy price for their misfortune this summer.
The appetite for the fight took a massive hit when Symes was forced to return to South Africa several weeks early. Prior to that he had scored 1200 runs in just 16 visits to the crease at a whopping average of 87 a time.
Symes’ contribution needs no explanation but the plain fact is that if you have a guy averaging 87 runs in each of his 16 matches and you only win 2 of them then you don’t need a calculator to do the maths.
And that’s where they need to focus as the club now sits down to work out what happens next.
There would be no Creevedonnell were it not for Brian Dougherty and you had to feel for him as relegation was confirmed.
The fact is however that they need a major injection of fresh blood and between the club and the North West they need some serious help if they aren’t to struggle from here on.
There will be plenty hoping that they can find a way around the mire as the last thing the North West needs is to lose another club.