CRICKET: All tied up at the top of Championship table

A section of the large crowd which enjoyed the Donemana vs Newbuildings Bank of Ireland NW Senior Cup tie at The Holm on Saturday. INLS2316-109KM
A section of the large crowd which enjoyed the Donemana vs Newbuildings Bank of Ireland NW Senior Cup tie at The Holm on Saturday. INLS2316-109KM

Pre-season predictions that the Long’s SuperValu Championship is set to be the tightest for many years look well founded at the minute as Ballyspallen, Fox Lodge and Glendermott set the pace with six points apiece after the first month.

The latter pair remain unbeaten - the Foxies making it three from three with a big win over Newbuildings at Foyle College on Sunday.

Yet another Peat Salmon century - his fourth so far this summer - wasn’t enough to prevent the Ballymagorry side pick up the points in that one.

Salmon’s 104 (9 fours, 5 sixes) and 41 from Jason Browne were a long way the best in the home team’s 181 all out; Marco Marais doing most of the damage with the ball as he claimed 5-17.

The visitors’ reply started well with Jason Milligan continuing his run of good form as the Ballymagorry team got on top early. A couple of quick wickets gave the home side a sniff but Milligan (67) and Marais soon put an end to that; rarely looking in trouble as the pair eased their side towards a telling win. The South African added an unbeaten 71 to his earlier “five for” as Fox Lodge won by six wickets.

On Saturday, Glendermott kept the pressure on with a five-wicket win over St Johnston courtesy of an unbeaten century from overseas man, Azeem Ghumman. The all-rounder shared an unbroken stand of 88 with Mattie Henderson (35 not out) after Josh Cole and David Anthony had claimed a couple of wickets apiece to reduce the home side to 128 for 5 chasing 215.

Earlier, the two Andrew’s - Fleming and McElhatton - had both made half centuries for the Saints with Ian Macbeth adding 43. Skipper Alan Johnson picked up three wickets and Ghumman and Charlie Elder two apiece as Glendermott fought back but they looked in trouble until that final partnership.

The Waterside team are currently hosting Burndennett this week in their outstanding match where a win there will obviously take them clear at the top.

The visitors are in the same boat as the Donegal outfit - neither have managed a league win this season - and with the top three or four looking to pull clear, it is a situation that needs remedied sooner rather than later.

Burndennett were on the wrong side of a batting onslaught on Saturday, falling to a seven-wicket reverse at home to Killyclooney.

Batting first the hosts made what seemed like a decent total of 221-8; father and son, Stephen McCay (55) and Ross (75*) accounting for a fair chunk of those.

The reply was brief and clinical with Mattie Barr (52) doing his bit, however Andre Henry was the star with a hard-hitting 136.

The overseas man clubbed 16 fours and 10 sixes in his assault, allowing Darren Moan’s team to claim the points after just 24 overs.

Ballyspallen kept pace with the league leaders after their win at Bonds Glen.

Home skipper, Graham Boyd followed up his 41 not out against Donemana in a T20 on Friday night, with more red ink here.

He blasted a fantastic unbeaten 109 this time, in their total of 185-7.

Such was Boyd’s dominance that the next highest score was 11, Lee Ritchie (3-23) and Graham Kennedy (2-56) faring best of the visitors’ bowling.

Ritchie also made 29 and Ivan Hill-Nicholl 24 as ’Spallen began their reply but the hosts lost five wickets in getting to within 60 of the target.

At that point Stephen McCloskey joined Tyrone Webster and these two were able to steer the ship home without any further damage.

Webster has started to look the part in the past couple of weeks and he made an impressive 49 not out and McCloskey 30 as the Bridge Park side claimed win number three, in what is a promising start to their summer.

They will be hoping that form can continue.