It was to be a disappointing weekend for the local cricket fraternity as a couple of nights of rain accounted for the vast majority of the scheduled fixtures.
Brigade’s title champagne will stay on ice for another week at least after their game at Donemana was a victim of the inclement weather.
Second-placed Eglinton weren’t in action either, however their home match against Glendermott had been called off on Friday following the sad passing of former villagers’ player, Oliver Thompson.
The crunch clash in the bottom half of the Premier Division table between Ballyspallen and Strabane also lost out to the elements, leaving Coleraine and Bready with the stage to themselves on Saturday afternoon.
The game presented the home side with one final shot at saving their top-flight skins against a Bready outfit who have lost their momentum in the latter stages of the summer, and it was an opportunity the Bannsiders grabbed with both hands.
Having won just twice in the league before this weekend, Coleraine turned the form book on its head to post a whopping 113-run win, bagging themselves 25 points in the process to close the gap on the teams above them to single figures.
The win was built around one man, overseas player Graham Hume who, not for the first time, carried his side to an invaluable victory. Hume came to the wicket with Coleraine struggling on 44-5, but patiently built his innings with cameos from Stephen Hutchinson and Ali Handforth to drag them back into it.
The South African’s final contribution was an unbeaten 86 (six fours, three sixes) which allowed the hosts to post a competitive 180-9 from their 50 overs.
While Hume deservedly takes the plaudits, it is only fair to single out Conor Olphert from Bready’s attack. Olphert has been excellent this year following the departure of Craig Young to North Down and he finished with 6-24 here which was an outstanding effort in the circumstances.
However while the visitors had something to cheer with ball in hand, it was a different story with the bat.
Coleraine simply didn’t let the current champions settle and were right among them from the first ball. Hume was again front and centre as he conducted affairs and Bready had nothing to offer in defence.
Irosh Samarasooriya resisted as best he could and without his 46 (one four, five sixes) this wouldn’t have been a pretty sight. Taking the Sri Lankan’s innings and 10 ‘extras’ out of a reply of 67 all out, the rest of the order contributed the sum total of 11 between them.
A really poor day for the Magheramason men but take nothing away from Coleraine who fought for their lives and deservedly came away with all the points.
The win doesn’t quite lift Stephen Hutchinson’s side off the bottom of the table, but it certainly ensures that the dogfight is now going right down to the wire.
The big Championship game between leaders Burndennett and second-placed Ardmore also went ahead although the rain interrupted proceedings several times throughout the day.
Burndennett started slowly before a quality knock from their overseas player, Salman Ahmed, got them back in the game. However Ardmore fought back well late on to take the advantage at half way.
Ahmed hit nine fours and four sixes in his 86 but three wickets for Conor Brolly and a couple for Gary Neely reined it back in late on as the home side closed on 197-9 after 41 overs.
More rain during the break saw the game reduced to 30 overs with Ardmore set 166 to win, and they never looked like losing from there. Peet Pienaar started the ball rolling with 44 before Ryan Brolly added another 41.
The game was brought to an abrupt end by Jared Wilson who hit four consecutive sixes to earn his side the win - Wilson finishing 36 not out from 18 balls faced. The final margin was five wickets as the Bleachgreen side took over at the top of the table with just two games to go.
Newbuidings posted a 17-run win over St Johnston in a very low-key affair at Foyle View to complete the trio of games to escape the weather.
Sunday’s much-anticipated T20 finals day also fell to the elements and will now be split in order to get them played. The Faughan Valley Cup final between Brigade and Donemana will go first as the winners of that will advance to the All-Ireland finals the weekend after next.
The match has now been scheduled for this coming Thursday, again at the Park, with a 6.30pm start (or earlier if possible).
The Eric Cooke cup final is still awaiting confirmation but has been provisionally set for the same venue at noon this Sunday.