GALLAGHER AND GILLESPIE STAR IN CUP SUCCESSES FOR STRABANE

It was an excellent weekend in the cup competitions for Strabane who beat Fox Lodge in the final of the Eric Cooke cup, and progressed to the semi-final of the Sammy Jeffrey Shield thanks to a brilliant 133 for skipper Aaron Gillespie as they beat Coleraine.

“I was absolutely delighted with our performance in the final against Fox Lodge,” said Gillespie. “It was probably our most complete performance all season in the three disciplines, and I have to give credit to Ryan Gallagher especially. His Man of the Match performance was vital, with his innings at the end put us into a position where we felt we had a very competitive score to defend.

“Then the way our bowling unit went about their business, I simply couldn’t have asked for any more from them, to restrict them the way we did was a faultless bowling display.

“To come away with the trophy it’s just a testament to the guys, the hard work they’ve put in off the field all year so for me it was truly deserved.”

Gillespie’s second century of the season continued his recent rich vein of form, and the Ireland A international is pleased that it’s coming together at the business end of the campaign.

“I’ve had a quiet first half of the season but always knew I’ve been hitting the ball really well this year and now in the last month or so the runs have finally started to come more consistently. It’s just something to continue going into the final few games of the season.

“Sunday’s hundred is probably going to go up there with one of my best innings after sitting at 10-3. I just knew it was one of those days I had to play no risk cricket and bat as deep as I could to be able to get to a total that we could defend.

“I have to give credit to Tanvir Hassan who came in at a very difficult time and soaked up some of the pressure to help us then gain momentum going into the last part of the innings. Conor Graham did brilliantly, who this season has shown great potential. Those 25-30 runs he got was exactly what we needed at that stage, where he just played simple low risk cricket, and helped rebuild a partnership with myself to be able to kick on in the last ten.”

There’s another big game on the horizon with a semi-final clash once again with Fox Lodge and Gillespie is all too aware it’s going to be a tough proposition.

“We know we will have to be on top form and replicate our display in the final and more as we know that it’ll be a game that they will be desperate to win. It has turned out to be an exciting end to the season and to be able to play in another semi-final it’s one that we’ll be taking in our stride and definitely one we’re going to target. Our confidence is high at the moment so we’ll be going into it with a good mindset and hoping we can come out too with another win.”