Villagers safe as Ardmore come up short
VILLAGERS SAFE AS ARDMORE COME UP SHORT
Ardmore will provide the opposition to Glendermott in Sunday's promotion/relegation game after the Bleachgreen side were beaten by Eglinton in Saturday's 7th-place play-off at a sunny but cold Magheramason.
It was a keenly contested affair that swung one way then the other before the villagers held their nerve best towards the end. Andrew Riddles struck the first blow after Eglinton won the toss and batted first as the Warriors man trapped Andy Christie leg before during the opening exchanges.
Any thoughts of pressing home the advantage were soon blown away however in a 119-run second wicket stand between Andy Pierce and Craig Averill. Although this pair dominated they never really took the game away from Ardmore and both fell in quick succession in an attempt to up the run rate.
Averill's 70 was a fantastic effort and young Pierce with 48 showed why he has been trusted at the top of the order all season. Stuart Thompson chipped in with 31 before being bowled by Gary Neely before Stephen Smyth did some real damage late on with 4 fours and 3 sixes in his 49.
Smyth and Jamie Millar (23 not out) put on an invaluable 71 for the 6th wicket that ended in the penultimate delivery of the innings when the former Ireland International was caught on the boundary rope by Riddles off the bowling of old adversary Decker Curry.
All of that allowed Eglinton to post a healthy 254 for 6 in their 50 overs with Riddles (3-46) the pick of the Bleachgreen team's bowlers.
Ardmore's reply started well with Ciaran Curley and Paul McDowell posting an opening stand of 54 before both were dismissed in the space of a couple of overs. They say catches win matches but it wasn't the case here as Curley was dropped no fewer than four times before Eglinton finally held one.
The opening batsman appeared to pick up a leg injury early in his innings and it certainly hampered him quite badly before he was first to go for 27. McDowell (29) and Peter Harrigan (17) both got starts but were unable to kick on before Curry and Riddles came together with the reply on 92 for 3.
In normal circumstances once that pair gets in front they are very difficult to peg back and although Decker batted well to reach his half century, he carried a bit of luck here and there along the way. Many thought that when Mark Averill dropped Curry on the boundary, giving away six in the process that the tide had turned but Chris Pierce's side refused to give up.
The villagers then turned to Stuart Thompson to break the partnership and despite taking a heavy knock in the outfield earlier, and with a plane seat to Australia on Tuesday with his name on it, Thompson obliged.
And if there was to be a turning point in the match, this was it. Thompson bowled Decker for 64 before sending down another 5 overs in which Ardmore scored just one boundary.
The screw had tightened and the run rate was shooting up and when Riddles was caught by Craig Averill off Jamie Millar for 56, the game was as good as up.
The youngsters that had pushed Strabane all the way last weekend simply could break the shackles here as Eglinton claimed a 21-run win that leaves them safe for at least another year.
Millar (3-33) and Thompson (2-36) fared best with the ball and Ardmore have a bit to think about before putting their Premiership status on the line against Glendermott on Sunday.
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