There were a few scares along the way in Saturday’s Bank of Ireland senior cup quarter final ties however the “Big Three” of Donemana, Brigade and Coleraine and battling Bready too are through to the last four of this season’s blue riband trophy after some cracking weekend action.

It’s fair to say that anyone looking to take the trophy away from Donemana this summer will need to turn in a very special performance, as in-form Newbuildings discovered to their cost. The Championship side probably felt they had the holders on the ropes early on- reducing them to 10-2 in the opening overs; however the Premier League side stamped their class all over the second half of the innings to leave Dale Culbert and his team with a bloodied nose.

Ricky-Lee Dougherty’s side piled on 167 runs in the last 12 overs with Jan Frylinck and William McClintock sharing an unbroken stand; Frylinck at one point taking 5 sixes and a four from one Culbert over. The South African was unbeaten on 111 at the end, made from just 64 balls and including 12 fours and 6 sixes.

McClintock was only slightly more subdued- 9 fours and 4 sixes in his 80 not out as Donemana posted a mammoth 407 for 5 in their 50 overs. Earlier, Andrew Riddles (90) and William McClintock (81) had batted brilliantly to lead the recovery after that poor start while all of the Newbuildings’ bowlers came in for at least some tap.

Culbert’s team’s reply started reasonably well with Dean Mehaffey (44) and David Robb (29) taking them to 66-1 early on. Chasing such a huge total however, the visitors needed a big innings from overseas man, Peat Salmon. The West Indian had earlier been presented with the Player-of-the-Month award for May but his luck didn’t hold here as he was run out for 20.

It was always going to be backs-to-the-wall stuff from there for the Newbuildings and despite Jason Browne (33), Peter Allen (27) and Stephen Wallace (22) all chipping in, it wasn’t to be their day. A final total of 233 represented a 174-run defeat as the holders marched ruthlessly into the last four. Dwayne McGerrigle (3-33) and Jordan McGonigle (2-29) fared best with the ball for them.

Down at Beechgrove, Brigade were given an almighty scare by Drummond before they made it through- Andy Britton’s team having to dig much deeper than they did against their visitors in the first game of the season.

An opening stand of 64 between Kyle Morrow and Andy Christie set the Roe Valley men on their way – Morrow hitting 8 fours in his 51 while Christie (34) showed all of his guile against a quality home attack.

Jamie Millar added 37 and Ricky McDaid 23 as Drummond closed just 5 short of 200; Jonny Robinson (3-36) and Ryan Macbeth (3-40) doing the bulk of the damage.

Any suggestion that this was a one-horse race was very quickly dispelled as Millar (4-34) was soon among the Brigade top order in the reply. Ryan Hunter dug deep for his 34, while Chris Dixon (30) and Danza Hyatt (28) fared best of the rest, however it took a game-saving knock from Robinson to drag Brigade over the winning line.

“Bap” hit 3 fours and 3 sixes to finish unbeaten on 56, dropped on the boundary late on just as Drummond looked like setting up a grandstand finish.

Make no mistake, this was a contest that could easily have gone either way and the visitors will be kicking themselves that they couldn’t close the deal out having worked so hard to tee it up.

Coleraine had few problems seeing off last year’s beaten finalists, Eglinton, as Scott Campbell’s team marched into yet another semi-final with an 8-wicket victory.

A solid showing with the ball was the catalyst for the Bannsiders’ win-Gordon Cooke (3-30) doing the early damage with support coming from Rishi Chopra (2-12), Varun Chopra (2-17) and Roshen Silva (2-22). Oraine Williams hit 6 fours in his 48 but the rest of the villagers’ batsmen struggled to stay with the Jamaican and it took late cameos from Scott Adair (23) and Chris Pierce (19) to get the total up to 145 all out.

The Bannsiders looked at ease throughout the reply with Campbell and Tim Chopra posting a stand of 59 before the skipper fell to Ross Allen for 35. Rishi Chopra (12) came and went before Tim and Roshen Silva saw the job through. Chopra was unbeaten on 53 and Silva likewise on 31 as Coleraine coasted into yet another semi-final.

The final tie of four saw Bready and Strabane serve up a thrilling contest at Magheramason that went the way of the home after a protracted struggle.

Fielding without skipper David Scanlon who is on holiday, Bready got off to the worst possible start when David Rankin was bowled around his legs by Aaron Gillespie for 0. Professional, Gavin Wallace and ‘keeper/batsman Andrew Austin soon had things levelled up however as they knocked it around for the next 17 overs with Strabane unable to capitalise on their big breakthrough.

The pair began a steady re-build before Wallace opened up; passing his half century in an over where he hit three sixes off youngster, Rhys Logue. The Red Caps contributed to their own problems; missing a couple of chances before Khushpal Singh entered the fray and lured Wallace into one big shot too many and Kevin Pretorius pouched a good catch at long on.

The West Indian’s 63 came off just 42 balls and contained 7 fours and 4 sixes in a stand worth 106.

New man Craig Young added just 2 before being run out by Ryan Gallagher before Austin and Kyle Hamilton eased Bready back in front.

Pretorius breathed some life into Strabane- dismissing Hamilton for 18 and then Brian Crumley (3) but some wayward bowling and ordinary work in the field undid most of it.

It was Austin’s day however and although he was out just before the end, the Ireland under-19 player had made 106 (10 fours) in a total of 266 as the home side asked the question of their Tyrone neighbours.

To be fair the reply started well enough with Manu Sharma and Barry Scott putting on 37 for the first wicket before Scott went for 9. Sharma and Peter Gillespie added 74 but the opener then played all around one from spinner Wallace and was gone for 39.

Gillespie looked in really good touch and at 100-2 Strabane were right back in the contest before Aaron Gillespie was run out looking for a cheap single. Soon after that, skipper Gallagher was also dismissed softly as he lobbed one from Andy Lucas straight to Wallace and was gone for 13.

Despite those avoidable setbacks Gillespie and overseas man Pretorius looked to have given their side a real shot at progressing, taking the score to 188 before the former Ireland International was trapped lbw by David Rankin for 69 (6 fours).

Pretorius was still going strong but just as he looked set to prolong the interest the South African was out in bizarre fashion. He square cut one from Wallace that just about reached a diving Craig Young, however in his attempts to hold on to what would have been a brilliant catch, Young inadvertently scooped it towards Conor Olphert who dived in and held on.

It was a total game-changer and Bready, whose heads had dropped when Gillespie and Pretorius were together, closed in for the kill- finally recording a 43-run win.

This was a big statement from the Magheramason men given their personnel problems but Strabane would have went back up the Victoria Road on Saturday night knowing they were masters of their own downfall.

And so the North West has the semi-final line-up it was expecting with all eyes now on which of the trio will be paired together in the last four draw.