North Down in pole position
Ian Callender (Belfast Telegraph)
NORTH Down are back on top of the Ulster Bank Premier League table after a dream weekend when they defeated Waringstown and Carrickfergus and then saw their perennial rivals for the title crash at home to Lisburn to leave the Villagers in a four-way tie for second place.
It was hardly straightforward for the defending champions who lost four wickets for 20 runs, chasing a modest 177 on Saturday, before getting home by three wickets and it was even more nerve-racking for their supporters yesterday, with former captain Peter Shields hitting the winning runs with two balls to spare and No 11 David Kennedy at the other end.
With Jamie Holmes hitting 92 from 109 balls for Carrick, the team already condemned to Section One cricket next season, set North Down a victory target of 209. Not one visiting batsman reached 50 however and at the start of the last over they needed only three runs but with just two wickets left.
Danny Evans, the Yorkshire 2nd XI player signed as replacement for overseas professional Gayan Wijekoon until the end of the season, played one big hit too many and was caught without addition to the score. But, crucially, the batsmen crossed, Shields was in strike and. after a controversial wide, he hit the next ball for two.
What a weekend for Kyle McCallan to go on holiday. The Waringstown skipper avoided last weekend because the Villagers could have been involved in a rearranged Irish Cup semi final – they weren’t – and so he chose this weekend when the Villagers were supposed to play only one match – they played two.
He could so easily have made the difference at Comber but he will be desperately disappointed to learn that his team-mates collapsed to 160 all out, in vain pursuit of Lisburn’s 270 for six. Darryl Brown top scored for the visitors with 79 from 75 balls with just seven boundaries, leaving the big hitting to Greg Thompson who had eight fours and two sixes in his 64.
Lisburn are now just one win behind the leaders, on the same points as Waringstown, Instonians, who lost six wickets chasing Civil Service North’s 76 on Saturday and CIYMS who lost just four, passing Ballymena’s 217; Chris Dougherty scored 101.
Muckamore won the Ulster Shield final yesterday despite Eglinton matching their total of 183. The NCU side received the trophy because they had lost five wickets to Eglinton's seven.
The North West side needed 10 off the last over but only scored five off the first five deliveries. Stephen Smyth's attempt to clear the fence from the last ball ended in failure.