NW CRICKET: Saints face Eric Cooke Cup winners

Fox Lodge's Dean McCarter.
Fox Lodge's Dean McCarter.

There’s a full programme of Long’s Supervalu Championship games down for decision this Saturday with the match of the day likely to be back in Donegal where the Saints host Eric Cooke Cup winners Ballyspallen.

David Lapsley’s team are confident that they can find their way out of trouble from here and you would think that a couple of league wins from their final five games should do the trick.

The Roe Valley side have enjoyed an excellent debut season in the Championship already and, rest assured they will be nobody’s mugs.

A win for Stephen Kennedy’s team opens the promotion play-off door for them so there’s plenty at stake; however the home side’s need is greater.

Elsewhere, leaders Fox Lodge really ought to win at Bonds Glen while Glendermott can ill-afford to slip up at Burndennett if they want to keep the pressure on Brian Allen’s team.

Newbuildings entertain Killyclooney at Foyle College, with Dale Culbert’s men another side who will feel they can finish in the top two places.

The Bank of Ireland senior cup final accounted for pretty much all the rest of the weekend’s domestic action albeit there were a couple of very pivotal Championship games played on Sunday.

The first of those saw league leaders Fox Lodge bid to keep their unbeaten run intact against an improving St Johnston side and with the Boathole suffering like most other grounds up and down the country it turned out to be a fairly turgid affair.

These two will meet in the Sammy Jeffrey final later this month of course but vital points rather than psychological advantage were very much the order of the day here.

The home side batted first, and found scoring difficult against a varied Foxies’ attack. Andrew McElhatton’s 46 was by some way the best that they had to offer with only Michael Rankin (20) bothering the scorers much after that.

Despite batting for close to 43 overs the Donegal side could muster only 116 all out and even in the conditions it looked light.

The spin of Aaron Heywood (4-17) accounted for much of the damage while there were a couple of wickets apiece for Jamie McIntyre and Andrew McGinnis, leaving the visitors well on top at half way.

Brian Allen’s team’s batting has been really potent this summer and you sensed they weren’t going to miss out from there. Dean McCarter’s 32 gave them the ideal start leaving Marco Marais who hit 4 sixes in his 37 not out, and Jason Milligan (26 not out) to bring it home.

Two more points for Fox Lodge then in a resounding eight wicket win as they look to cement their promotion charge while St Johnston will feel that more winnable opportunities lie ahead.

Having leap-frogged Bonds Glen in the table with their midweek win at Killyclooney the Saints would have been very anxious to see how the Bee Gees fared against the same opposition in Sunday’s other fixture.

Graham Boyd’s men have just the one win to their credit so far this season and unfortunately for them they couldn’t manage a second here as they slipped to a 6-wicket defeat.

Roy Robinson made a defiant 65 as the home side batted first, however Trevor Britton’s 26 was best of the rest in a total of 175 all out. Mattie Barr (3-31) and Mark Snodgrass (3-45) were the pick of the bowlers as ’Clooney went after a fourth win of the season.

The reply was dominated by one man- the visitors’ overseas professional Andre Henry- as he set about the chase in style. Boasting one of the strongest batting line-up’s in the league, ’Clooney lost a few wickets early on before the West Indian calmed the situation with a match-winning knock.

It was a solid win in the end and Darren Moan’s men aren’t entirely out of the running for the play-off spot just yet, however Bonds Glen need to string a result or two together to prevent them heading to the play-off.