The new domestic cricket season got under way on Saturday with a plethora of changes on and off the field heralding the start of another busy summer.
Seven of the eight Premiership clubs are set to field first-season overseas players in 2017 with Drummond again deciding not to bring anyone in, albeit Brigade, Donemana and Eglinton were without their new men on Saturday as all three have yet to arrive in the region.
There’s a change in the points system too- a win is now worth 20 points but there are also 5 bonus points up for grabs in each game- with Coleraine and Bready the only two sides to claim the full 25 on Day 1.
The Bannsiders began their quest for the title with a bloodless win at Ardmore and it was their new overseas man Graham Hume that led the way in the emphatic victory. Hume looked sharp and Ardmore were unable to cope with a combination of him and Stephen Hutchinson as they fairly ripped through the hosts top order.
Bready dismissed Drummond for just 75 as they too claimed all five of the extra points while Brigade and Donemana posted 5-wicket verdicts over Fox Lodge and Eglinton respectively.
In the Championship, relegated Strabane bared their teeth early as they hammered St Johnston by 205 runs- a century from Aaron Gillespie and 59 from Peter helping the Red Caps to 304-5 from their 50 overs. The Saints never looked at any stage like getting half of those.
Newbuildings won too- 40 runs and 2 wickets for Peat Salmon as they had 62 runs to spare over Bonds Glen while Killyclooney and Ballyspallen served up a run-spree in their game. ‘Clooney’s West Indian Andre Henry oozed class as he hit 19 fours and 2 sixes in his 113 while skipper Darren Moan added 86 in a total of 263.
James Thompson turned in the best bowling performance of the day as his 7-34 brought the visitors right back into it but despite a half century from their own overseas man Darnell McCallum- the Roe Valley side came up well short.
Closest finish of the day was at Burndennett where Glendermott held their nerve to claim a 15-run verdict and get their season off to a solid start.
On Sunday, the Faughan Valley Charity trophy match was postponed to a later date due to unforeseen circumstances while Championship Ballyspallen picked up the Sam McConnell Memorial trophy when they comfortably beat Fox Lodge.
Stephen Kennedy hit an unbeaten 57 and new overseas man Darnell McCallum 40 as the Roe Valley side chased down 122 to win with any amount in hand.