CRICKET: National Cup takes centre stage for sides

Glendermott professional Azzem Ghuman smashes this shot out to the boundary during Saturday's match against Newbuildings. INLS1816-116KM
Glendermott professional Azzem Ghuman smashes this shot out to the boundary during Saturday's match against Newbuildings. INLS1816-116KM

Focus now switches to the All-Ireland competitions this coming weekend with two Championship sides - Fox Lodge and St Johnston - participating in the Irish Senior Cup while the rest plus Qualifying 1 teams Creevedonnell and Sion Mills are involved in the National Cup.

The Foxies and the Saints are both on the road on Saturday, to Leinster and Phoenix respectively, and both look up against it despite the Ballymagorry men boasting the upper hand against their opponents having beaten them twice in this competition in recent years.

In the National Cup, Glendermott start favourites against Lurgan but will need to be wary of Niranjan Godbole among others if they hope to progress to the next round.

Burndennett will need to be better against Michael Irwin’s Woodvale than they were against Ballyspallen at the weekend while Creevedonnell do at least have home advantage over what is habitually a strong Leinster Civil Service team.

Ballyspallen themselves will relish taking on Wicklow side, Greystones, although Sion Mills and Killyclooney have difficult tasks away at Cliftonville and Balbriggan respectively.

Newbuildings wouldn’t be without a decent chance of beating Academy and despite the long run to Kildare, Bonds Glen could conceivably get past the home side in that one if things fell their way.

Glendermott are one of the teams perennially associated with a promotion push and Alan Johnson knew that a home game against Newbuildings would give his side the chance of a really positive start to their quest.

There was no Simon Killen in the home line-up this time as the opener was on holiday however Charlie Elder was back having missed most of 2015.

The hosts were under pressure early and lost openers Gordon Montgomery and Trevor McDermott with just 12 runs on the board. Bob Robinson and new professional, Azeem Ghumman, shored things up however with Robinson in particularly good form.

The Glendermott stalwart went on to make 65 in all - 5 fours and 2 sixes in that knock – while Ghumman’s 38 and a cameo of 27 from Jack Glenn were of plenty help too.

Ross Hunter has been flagged up by Newbuildings as one of their players to watch in 2016 and the teenager bowled superbly to claim figures of 4 for 39.

West Indian, Peat Salmon, chipped in with 2-35 but Robinson’s efforts had meant the home side posted a decent target of 190-9 in their allotted overs.

The visitors need to start well however they were soon in trouble as the bowlers got on top straight away. Stuart Cochrane struck the telling blow early on, dismissing Salmon for 0 and it was all downhill after that.

At one stage Newbuildings were reduced to 20-5 before Graeme Robb’s 18 stemmed the flow for a short while.

Elder showed he has lost nothing with the ball returning impressive figures of 3-31 while Glenn (2-8) and Ghumman (2-9) tidied things up, as the visitors were all out for a disappointing 85.

A really impressive 105 run win for Glendermott was this and the Rectory side looks as though they won’t be far away again this summer.

Down in the Roe Valley, Ballyspallen were returning to the senior ranks after an absence of a decade and they too started with a bang, beating Burndennett by 48 runs.

Ballyspallen have brought in a few former Eglinton players this season, and it was one of them, Stephen McCloskey, who put his stamp all over Saturday’s performance.

McCloskey top scored with 49 (7 fours) as the hosts were all out for 131; Ian Crown with 19 faring best of the rest after that.

There were two wickets apiece for Gerard McAuley, Brian Devine, Conan Pollock and Stephen McCay for the visitors.

The Tyrone’s side’s reply was in all sorts of bother early on: a super spell of bowling from Graham Kennedy (4-6 from 8 overs) backed up by that man McCloskey (4-37) leaving them teetering on 42 for 9 in reply.

A last-wicket stand between Mark Roulston (20 not out) and McAuley (15) helped double the score but it wasn’t to be enough as Ballyspallen posted a deserved victory.