Fox Lodge & Newbuildings win Sam McConnell cups

The first silverware of the 2023 was handed out on Sunday afternoon at a pristine Rectory field with Fox Lodge women and Newbuildings men claiming the respective Sam McConnell Charity cups.

First up was the women’s final between last season’s cup winners Fox Lodge and league winners Bready, and it was the Ballymagorry side who claimed the honours with an 18-run verdict.

Mollie Devine batted really well for her 36 as did Sarah Black with 31, while Hannah McLaughlin added 28 in the Foxes’ total of 129-5.

Mansi Bhavsar (2-19) fared best with the ball for a young Bready team and their batters started really well in reply.

Millie Spence looks a player of real potential and she made 45 with Cody Wallace adding 34 in an opening stand of 90, at which point Bready looked strong favourites to go on and win.

Inexperience showed however after the openers were out and with Sarah Black claiming 2-16, Mollie 2-18 and Lucy Neely 2-22, the innings closed on 111-6.

To be fair to both sides it was a great game, which augurs well for the upcoming league season that starts on Monday week.

The men’s final was a real run-fest and showed once again just how good a job that Davy Watson, John Bratton, Fred Simpson and the team continue to do at the Bonds Street venue.

Batting first, Newbuildings racked up a huge 242 for 7 in their 20 overs.

Johnny Thompson was at his flamboyant best in front of the big crowd; the former Warriors man smashing 8 sixes and 5 fours in his brilliant 80.

Thompson and Mark Hanna (27) put on 55 in just 4 overs for the first wicket before ‘JT’ and Ryan Hunter (32) added 80 more for the second.

Trent McKeegan added 42 from just 15 balls (5 fours, 3 sixes) late on as the current league champions piled it on in the final overs with Adam Walker (3-52) the pick of the Ballymagorry men’s attack.

It looked a long way back from there, but fair play to Travis Nicholl (49 off 18- 5 sixes and 4 fours) and Gayan Maneeshan (47 off 17- 6 sixes, one four) as the openers racked up 80 in less than five overs.

That, however, was when man-of-the-match Charlie Downey played his hand- the young Newbuildings bowler returning brilliant figures of 5-31 on a belter of a track to put his side firmly in front.

Cameos from Dean McCarter (31), Levi Kerr (23 not out) and Jason Milligan (20) kept the batting side in the contest, but without ever threatening to pull off the win.

A final total of 195 meant a 47-run win for Newbuildings and while it was a win built on a superb batting display, it was absolutely secured by young Downey.

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