NW CRICKET: All to play for as season finally draws to a close

Junior McBrine, making a rare appearance in the first team, helped himself to four wickets at Drummond.
Junior McBrine, making a rare appearance in the first team, helped himself to four wickets at Drummond.

The race for the Super Valu premiership title became a little clearer after the weekends fixtures with now anyone of three teams still in contention.

Donemana had two victories over Drummond and Eglinton while Brigade did the same defeating Bready and Coleraine which means a massive game at the Holm on Saturday where Brigade are the visitors.

A win for the men from Beechgrove would see them lift the title while a victory for Ricky Lee Dougherty’s would leave them in a showdown match on Saturday week when they travel to Ardmore.

The weather as has been the case all season may once again come into play but fingers crossed that the title is decided on the field of play.

There were a total of six Championship fixtures played out over the weekend but despite plenty of unresolved issues still to hand, it turned out to be a relatively low-key couple of days.

Champions Fox Lodge were in action on both days- ironically against the two sides chasing the second place play-off spot- however Brian Allen made good on his promise to let the “fringe players” enjoy the last three games now that the title and promotion have been secured.

On Saturday the Ballymagorry outfit headed to the Rectory where a superb knock by the skipper was nowhere near enough to stave off defeat against Alan Johnson’s men. Allen was at his flamboyant best as he thumped 6 fours and 13 sixes on his way to an unbeaten 118 while Jamie Huey added a more sedate 31.

Despite that however the visitors still only managed 194 all out- two wickets apiece for Trevor McDermott, Todd Killen and Gordon Montgomery as Glendermott kept everyone else quiet.

The reply was decisive too with Azeem Ghumman making 87 (12 fours and a six) while skipper Johnson added 46 and Jason Lynch 37.

The Rectory side still had 6 wickets in hand at the winning line as they moved to within one win off the play-off.

Newbuildings stayed bang in contention too as they recorded a 5-wicket win over Burndennett where the home side collapsed after an impressive start. Eddie McGettigan (33), Mark Doherty (32) and Mark Pollock (30) combined to take Burndennett to drinks on 119-2 however the final 8 wickets then fell for the addition of just 47 runs.

Dale Culbert (4-18) led the way with the ball and although they lost a few wickets early in the reply, that man Peat Salmon was there to see it home. The West Indian hit 3 fours and 6 sixes in his 67 with Mark Hanna chipping in with 30 more as Newbuildings won comfortably.

The closest game of the day was at Killyclooney where Ballyspallen were able to successfully defend their 184 all out. Stephen Kennedy was best for them with 38 while Lee Ritchie added 34 and Tyrone Webster 29. Mark Gordon picked up three wickets for the hosts while Richard McMorris and Darren Moan split another four.

Mattie Barr’s 59, 41 from Andre Henry and Giles Moan with 22 seemed to give the home side the advantage however three wickets each for Kennedy, Ritchie and Stephen McCloskey helped dismiss ‘Clooney just 5 runs short of their target.

The fourth match of the quartet may well have genuine repercussions as the season winds to a close as Bonds Glen took the points from their must-win clash at home to St Johnston. The Donegal men went into the contest with a three point advantage in the table so a win for them would have meant the Bee Gees finishing bottom and into the end-of-season play-off.

Batting first the home side made 192 all out with former skipper Graham Boyd top-scoring with 77. Roy Robinson added 46 while for the Saints there were three wickets each for Andrew Fleming and Nathan Cole.

The reply just never got going however with only Michael Rankin (29) offering much in the way of resistance. Boyd was in the thick of the action again as he helped himself to three wickets while David Robinson, Kyle Magee and Trevor Britton all bagged two as St Johnston closed 75-runs short.

David Lapsley’s side had the chance to put things right as they played their final game of the season at Burndennett on Sunday but once again they came up short. It was a low-scoring encounter this time with the Saints making just 87 as they batted first.

David Macbeth (24) fared best with the bat while Stephen McCay (4-12) and Eddie McGettigan (3-10) responded in kind for Burndennett.

Skipper Lapsley (3-17) and David Anthony (2-23) tried their best to keep the visitors in it but they just didn’t have enough runs to play with. This 5-wicket defeat means that the Donegal men now have a 1 point advantage over Bonds Glen at the bottom of the table although Trevor Britton’s team have two (albeit very difficult) matches in hand.

Back with the battle for second place and Newbuildings made very short work of another makeshift Fox Lodge team as the champions were dismissed for just 30 runs.

There were four wickets apiece for skipper Dale Culbert and Dean Mehaffey while Peat Salmon took just four overs to knock off the runs.

So Glendermott and Newbuildings go into their final matches this weekend - the Rectory side away at Killyclooney while Culbert’s boys play Bonds Glen - with second place still up in the air.

If Glendermott win, it is they who go through to play Drummond in the end-of-season shoot-out by virtue of their head-to-head results while if Newbuildings win and Glendermott don’t, the Foyle College team will take their chance.