CRICKET: George Kennedy proves to be Ballyspallen’s cup hero

Valerie Cooke presents the Eric Cooke Cup to Ballyspallen skipper Stephen Kennedy. INLS30-Ballyspallen
Valerie Cooke presents the Eric Cooke Cup to Ballyspallen skipper Stephen Kennedy. INLS30-Ballyspallen

Not since they won the old Division 2 title back in 2004 have Ballyspallen got their hands on a senior North West trophy and although this is an altogether different model these days the club was back on the winning trail at Beechgrove on Sunday in the final of the Eric Cooke T20 competition.

It hasn’t been an easy road, but driven by a really strong committee the Roe Valley outfit can reflect on a job well done in just their first season back in the second tier.

John Kennedy has been a major influence on events at Bridge Park since the rejuvenation began and there was as real “Kennedy influence” on Sunday’s victory.

Son Graham Kennedy proved the hero for ’Spallen as he timed the chase to perfection - smashing an unbeaten 64 as they chased down Killyclooney’s 120 for 8 with just three balls to spare.

Kennedy and co looked to have left themselves too much to do as the required rate nudged double figures before the teenage left-hander exploded into action in the final few overs.

He cleared the ropes six times and also hit two fours in a whirlwind 64 from just 38 balls as Ballyspallen came from way off the pace to nick it on the line.

Earlier, the Killyclooney total of 120 for 7 had been built around a half-century from professional Andre Henry who top scored with 52 from 46 balls (6 fours, 2 sixes), receiving good support from Giles Moan (20) and Mark Gordon (16).

The Ballyspallen bowling unit stuck to their task well, with two wickets apiece for Stephen Kennedy, James Thompson and Steven McCloskey, but it was that late, decisive swoop from Kennedy that allowed his brother Stephen to step up to collect the cup from Valerie Cooke - wife of the late former International umpire.

Meanwhile there was just the one Long’s Supervalu Championship league game this time with Glendermott and Bonds Glen sharing over 550 runs before the home side ran out comfortable winners to stay on the tail of leaders, Fox Lodge.

A magnificent century from Azeem Ghumman helped the hosts to 313 for 4 as the Bee Gees’ bowlers toiled, but this was no one-man show.

Ghumman hit 14 fours and 4 sixes in his maximum 147 and he received good support from skipper Alan Johnson with an unbeaten 70, and Bob Robinson (59).

The visitors’ were kept at arm’s length in reply if truth be told and although Lee Britton made 65 and skipper Trevor Britton added 37, Ghumman was again on the mark, this time with the ball.

His man-of-the-match performance was completed with figures of 4-38, while Johnson’s day wasn’t bad either - 3 for 37 for him to add to his runs, although more importantly, a couple of very welcome points went on the board.