Tyrone sides dominate start of local cricket season
TYRONE SIDES DOMINATE START OF LOCAL CRICKET SEASON
It may only have been the first week in May and temperature wise it felt like the last week in December but at Magheramason on Sunday the first trophies of the 2012 domestic season were handed out to St Johnston and Donemana. The Derry Midweek League this year changed the format of their Charity Cup final from a one-off 40 over match between the winners of the Faughan Valley and Northern Bank cups to two 20 over games between that pair and also between the winners of the Sperrin Springs and Sammy Jeffrey competitions. Attendance wise there probably wasn't much difference in size between this and previous years although the fact that most chose to observe the action from the relative warmth of their four-wheelers made it difficult to be sure.
The Saints and newly promoted Creevedonnell got action under way, Stephen Scroggie opting to bowl first on winning the toss and despite a night of celebration following their win at Glendermott the previous day, the bowlers started well. Andrew Fleming has played, and played well at this level before but him apart the Donegal men's batting wasn't holding up. David MacBeth and Ian MacBeth offered the only real support to the left-hander with 17 and 15 respectively but Fleming's half century was by far and away the highlight of their 141 for 8 in the allotted 20 overs. Gareth Falconer bowled well for the Creevies to claim 3 for 24 while there were 2 wickets apiece for skipper Scroggie and former skipper Brian Dougherty.
The Division 1 side would probably have fancied their chances of chasing that tally down on an excellent batting track and despite losing the prolific Kyle Morrow early, Gary Neely and Jack Glenn put them in a strong position at 53 for 1. The game was to change however with the introduction of Ian MacBeth as after Kushpal Singh had removed Neely, MacBeth took over. The medium pacer accounted for the entire Creevedonnell middle order to finish with 6 for 24 as despite Glenn's best efforts in making 38, Scroggie's men could manage just 106 in reply.
The Division 1 final featured two sides with 100% starts to their league campaigns, Bready and Donemana and Richard Kee also decided that batting second was preferable and he sent the hosts in. It looked a brave call after David Scanlon's side had chased down Brigade's 251 for the loss of just 2 wickets on the exact same pitch the previous day and David Rankin and David Barr started really well to post a 54-run stand. Skipper Kee then threw the ball to Andy McBrine and the Ireland under-19 player set about changing the course of Bready's innings removing Barr, the dangerous Sabir, Brian Crumley and Andy Barr for the sum cost to him of just 11 runs. From 54 without loss Bready were 86 for 7 before skipper Scanlon and Ian Young added an unbroken 31 to give the contest some sort of competitive look. Bready's final card had one very remarkable factor to note as well; in many years of covering cricket, and especially given the very strict regulations in place these days I had never come across an innings with 0 extras until then- Donemana at their meanest best.
Defending just 117 Bready needed a good start and they got one with the skipper having Ryan Hunter caught behind in his first over. Kamran Sajid and Andy McBrine made that 35 before the professional was run out bringing Ricky Lee Dougherty to join McBrine. This pair batted seriously well together, pushing ones every ball with Dougherty in particular laying in to anything too full as Donemana cruised towards the target. It would have been fitting had they stayed to the end but Dougherty mistimed one from James Long and was caught and William McClintock fell late on before McBrine ended it with a boundary to long off. The youngster's unbeaten 46, added to his earlier 4 wickets made the man-of-the-match call a formality for Davy Caldwell as Donemana claimed the cup by 6 wickets.
Earlier in the weekend three of the four sides had been in Division 1 league action and all three had emerged victorious; Donemana accounting for Bonds Glen while Bready and Creevedonnell recorded wins over Brigade and Glendermott respectively. They were all big wins in their own context but the Magheramason side's thrashing of the champions was particularly taking, especially considering that they had been asked to chase down 250 plus. Agha Sabir Ali's magnificent unbeaten 130 was the key for Bready who could well be emerging as serious title contenders. Creevedonnell's win at The Rectory could prove very valuable at the other end of the table come September but perhaps the biggest result of the weekend was Strabane's win at home to title favourites Limavady. Des Curry was continuing in his excellent vein of form as he made 73 but there was little to note elsewhere in the innings apart from the Red Caps conceding a shocking 49 extras. That they did so and still won so comfortably shows the strength of their title challenge and also the quality of their new professional, Faisal Iqbal. The former Pakistan Test player was again in form with the bat as his unbeaten 75 allowed the former champions to chase down the required 200 runs for a facile win.
There was a feast of runs at Ballymagorry as Coleraine posted a huge 346 for 5 in their 50 overs but were then faced to dig deep to defend that total as Jonny Robinson and Andrew McGinnis threatened to pull off a mammoth win for the Foxies. Unfortunately for the hosts there was little or no resistance once those two departed but they still got to within 31 runs in a belter of a game.
Action hots up this coming weekend with the start of both the Bob Kerr Irish senior cup and the equivalent for second tier clubs the new RSA National Cup. Local sides all look to have been handed very tricky ties in the Bob Kerr- Donemana and Bready travelling to Dublin to face Pembroke and The Hills respectively while Strabane and Fox Lodge are also on their travels as they head to Belfast to play Waringstown and North Down. Whilst a trip into the holders' back yard is hardly the first round draw you would want it would be no surprise to see Martin Deans' side continue their very positive start to the season but we will round all of those games up next time.