CREGAGH will play in the top division of the NCU next season for the first time in 46 years.

It was on September 18, 1976 that the Gibson Park Avenue side were relegated after a seven-wicket defeat by Lisburn but on Sunday they claimed the second promotion spot in Robinson Services League One to confirm their promotion back to the big time.

But it is Cliftonville Academy who will go up to the Premier League as champions, despite their defeat on Saturday by Derriaghy as the 62 runs margin was just enough to keep them above Cregagh and well clear of the Queensway club. Remarkably, all three teams finished the season with 15 wins and three defeats.

Cregagh knew at halfway yesterday that they had to pass Saintfield’s 133 for nine in 13.4 overs to claim the trophy but, as fate would have it, that was when they lost their first wicket with the total on 120 – an agonising 14 runs short of the title.

Jay Hunter was the man out but not before he had passed 1,000 runs for the season and although Cregagh lost two more wickets by that stage the win on the day was not in doubt.

Cregagh will look back on the first 10 overs of the match as when they effectively surrendered the league, Saintfield plundering 89 for two, and although Adam Beattie took two wickets in two balls to halt their charge, the damage had been done.

In the North West, only one of the three scheduled Premiership games went ahead with Coleraine scratching against Ardmore and Fox Lodge against to Newbuildings. Brigade beat Eglinton by 29 runs in a cup final dress rehearsal.