Mixed fortunes for NW sides in Ulster competitions
Its probably fair to suggest that any cricket is good cricket at the minute given the difficulty in getting games played but Sunday's matches served up plenty of entertainment as Brigade and Eglinton both progressed to their respective Ulster finals. Donemana came close to making it an all- North West senior decider but their trip to Stormont was possibly just one game too many although no doubt the Tyrone side came back over the Glenshane disappointed in the extreme by the days events.
We start at Beechgrove however and despite some really indifferent efforts this season the reigning North West champions have shown glimpses of this type of form, albeit far too infrequently, as they blew away a strongly fancied North Down top order to book their place in the Club Turf final. Batting first, Johnny Thompson- who else- top scored with 39 for Mark Simpson's men while Iftikhar Hussain (22), Gareth McKeegan (20) and Mark Snodgrass (21) all contributed to a fighting total of 170 all out. The NCU lads would surely have backed themselves from there however they hadn't counted on a superb new ball burst from Thompson and Simpson that had them reeling in disbelief as the scoreboard read 15 for 5. Johnny Terrett and Neil Russell rallied briefly before Simpson returned with a vengeance to ensure no slip-up's; the skipper returning stunning figures of 5 for 12 runs that sent his side into the Ulster final. Hard to believe that this was the same Brigade who were lapped by Donemana just 48 hours earlier in the league but such are the complexities of our sport that Richard Kee's side were a mirror image of that league game as they came unstuck at Stormont.
Professional Kamran Sajid has been in a superb vein of form this season but the tone was set for Donemana's day when the Pakistani was run out early on with the North West side already one down. That seemed to upset the rhythm of the side and Andy McBrine was soon also back in the hutch as CS assumed control. Ricky-Lee Dougherty was in the process of restoring order when he was adjudged leg before, one of several calls the visitors felt had gone against them but the Tyrone side was to be further incensed when Ritchie McBrine was also adjudged lbw following a half hearted appeal from bowler Jordan Wilson on his own. Dougherty's 34 was much the best of Donemana's hugely disappointing 98 all out as Nigel Jones (2-9) Allen Coulter (3-26) and Wilson (3-17) claimed the bowling honours. It should have been plain sailing from there for CS but Donemana flew out of the traps with the ball reducing them to 12 for 3 in reply. Kamran Sajid bowled very well to claim 3 for 16 from his 8 overs but a match-winning 46 not out from Patrick Fisher and 25 from Wayne Horwood rescued a 5 wicket win for the hosts. A venue for the final has yet to be agreed but it is definitely the North West's turn to host and the decision will follow in due course.
The day's final game was the Ulster Shield semi final tie at Eglinton and Karl O'Doherty's side continued the impressive start to their season with a convincing win over Cliftonville. The home side batted first and once again Christopher Pierce was their top scorer, the big opener continuing his excellent run of form hitting 10 fours and 2 sixes in his impressive 78. Support came in cameos from Stephen Smyth (24) and Richard Wylie (21)as Eglinton finished on 203 all out. The visitors kept losing key wickets in the reply but Owen Ivins was proving much more troublesome despite some excellent bowling from Johnny Gardiner (2-15) and Stephen Smyth (3-5). Cliftonville's overseas man eventually went for a defiant 63 however and with him his team's chances as the villagers headed into next month's final with a 75-run win.