Mixed weekend for Tyrone sides
Barry Chambers (Strabane Chronicle)
There were mixed results for the Tyrone sides on the opening weekend of the North West cricket season, with wins for Bready and Donemana (walkover), but defeats for Burndennett, Killyclooney, Strabane and Killyclooney.
The exciting nature of T20 cricket was exemplified by the fact that while Bready won from the final ball at Glendermott, Strabane lost in their rain affected home clash with Brigade.
The Red Caps featured two debutants, with Ehtesham Ahmed and Tanvir Hasan bolstering their playing strength and depth. The pair normally play their club cricket in Leinster, but their campaign doesn’t begin for another month. They did enough in the shortened game to show they may be a real asset to the club.
Strabane skipper Aaron Gillespie and teenager Tom Harpur clubbed seven sixes between them in their total of 92 for 3, and when Brigade required 14 off the last over, and seven from two balls, they looked like pulling off a shock win. Alas, it wasn’t to be as Kyle Magee’s late heroics denied them victory.
“The boys put up a great fight taking it to the last over there,” said a disappointed but proud Gillespie afterwards.
“We got ourselves back into the contest, and Chrisy Havern bowled a magnificent penultimate over. Unfortunately I failed to get us over the line but all in all, great fight and work-out for us.
“We had a couple of new faces today who acquitted themselves well and it gives us optimism for the season ahead. Since ‘Shami’ came he’s been so positive and a captain’s dream helping out, full of ideas and energy. Tanvir will be an asset too with his bowling.
“Myself and Tom Harpur had a fine partnership, and he is one of the cleanest strikers of a ball I’ve seen for the size of him, and he has a great eye. It’s obviously pleasing for myself to get a few runs, and I’ve been hitting the ball well in the nets and full of confidence.”
Bready survived a boundary blitz from Glendermott debutant Nathan McGuire as they won at The Rectory. The teenager hit an unbeaten 81 from just 62 balls, including six sixes. He also took two wickets but the Magheramason side won, just. Davy Rankin (49) and Irosh Samarasooriya (27) laid the platform for Conor Olphert and skipper Davy Scanlon to seal the last gasp win.
“It was a very good fight by us to get over the line,” said Scanlon afterwards. “I thought we were a bit rusty first up with the ball but that’s understandable. It’s the first time we’ve seen Nathan McGuire and he put on a bit of a show there.
“They really made us fight for our runs and Davy Rankin held us together. It was great we had a left-hander (Conor Olphert) coming in to target the short boundary and thankfully we got over the line, great game.”
Fox Lodge travelled to Eglinton and in a low-scoring contest, almost prevailed. Johnny Robinson (27) and Jason Milligan (20) top scored as they limped to 90 for 9. It looked well below par but two wickets apiece for captain Aaron Heywood, Levi Kerr and Jamie McIntyre reduced the hosts to 63 for 7. However Lee Ritchie hit three sixes in four balls to deny the Ballymagorry men.
“ It was a disappointing defeat, a game that we put ourselves to win but just came up short,” said Heywood.
“We were definitely 30 or 40 runs short at the interval, but credit to the bowling attack who brought us back into the game. Gareth and Jamie were first class in the opening spell and myself and Johnny Robinson really squeezed to put the pressure on.
“Unfortunately, when you post a score as low as 90, it was only going to take one good over from Eglinton to win it and fair dues to Lee Ritchie who struck three clean blows to win the game for them.
“All in all it was a good first test for our boys and something that we can work with going forward into next week against the BGs who had a brilliant victory over Coleraine.
“What we'll be looking for this weekend is a bit more depth in batting and one or two of the guys to really kick on and grind out a big score. There is competition in the bowling ranks and hopefully this weekend we will see one or two more guys available.
“Competition for places is great and it really pushes players on to better themselves, so it's a nice headache to have for myself and the selectors.”
Senior Cup holders Donemana get their season up and running on Saturday with a home game against Ballyspallen after their clash with St Johnston wasn’t able to happen due to covid restrictions in the Republic.
They will have two captains this year with William McClintock in charge of their T20 campaign, before handing over the reins to Andy McBrine for the longer format games. Irish international McBrine was confident his troops would again be challenging for major honours.
“We have a pretty settled side with few changes year-on-year. What’s pleasing is that they are for the most part a young squad that has already amassed plenty of medals and experience. T20 suits our game as we have plenty of all-rounders and power hitters.
“We had a good year last year and the cups always bring out the best in us. We like the one-offs and have the players who respond and raise their game. There’s a spine of experience with Jordy and Dwayne, while Levi Dougherty showed what he can do, and there’s more to come.
“I’m not sure how much I’ll be around from next month onwards, when hopefully I’ll be involved in the Ireland series against South Africa, The Netherlands and Zimbabwe. I’ll play when I can and I’m confident we have the depth of resources to cope when I’m not.”
Killyclooney were well beaten at Brigade, but they get an opportunity to put that right when play twice at the weekend. First up is a home tie with Strabane, followed 24 hours later by another trip to Beechgrove.
There was a remarkable coincidence for their second and third teams with both sides involved in ties. Two wickets for John McCreanor and Cody Wallace restricted Ardmore to 101 in their thirds clash. James Dougherty’s 35 just wasn’t enough to get the win, but ensured the points were shared, while R McDonald’s 42 helped their seconds tie versus Bonds Glen in another thriller.
Sion Mills made a winning start with a convincing nine-wicket win against Maghera. Three wickets for Glenn McCallan, two for Mark Patterson and one apiece for Lee McGonagle, Andy Lucas and Lee Finlay restricted Maghera to 111.
That proved no trouble for Sion thanks to a century stand between Rian McKelvey who hit 6 fours and a six in an unbeaten 53, while Simon Galloway offered excellent support in his 34 not out.
WEEKEND SENIOR FIXTURES (Saturday 2pm unless stated)
Fox Lodge v Bonds Glen
Coleraine v Eglinton
Burndennett v Glendermott
Bready v Newbuildings
Ardmore v St Johnston
Donemana v Ballyspallen
Killyclooney v Strabane
Brigade v Killyclooney (SUN)