Fox Lodge win Sports Hub Senior Cup

Fox Lodge claimed the Sports Hub Senior Cup for the first time in their history on Saturday evening after a titanic tussle over Newbuildings at Eglinton. 

It was a game that ebbed and flowed over the two innings- just one run between the sides after an enthralling Friday was the lowest first innings deficit in the 125 finals that have been contested in the competition’s history.

Jared Wilson won the toss on Friday morning and immediately elected to bat first.

A 74-run stand for the second wicket between Gareth McKeegan and Ryan Hunter (both made 48) took the village side to 101-1 early on before a magnificent spell of bowling from stand-in overseas player, Geeth Kumara, saw the Foxes fight their way back in.

The English-based Sri Lankan returned figures of 6-28 from his 10 overs as Newbuildings struggled to break the shackles.

Skipper Wilson made a fine 57 (4 fours, 3 sixes) and Ross Hunter added a valuable 41 not out to allow the batting side post a fairly par total of 231-8.

The Foxes needed to start well but lost openers Jason Milligan and Travis Nicholl early in the piece.

That soon became 83-5, including the key wicket of Kumara for just 11 as Johnny Thompson (4-27) and Trent McKeegan (3-54) put the Ballymagorry side under pressure.

They desperately needed their experienced players to stand up and in Jonny Robinson and Brian Allen, Fox Lodge found their men.

Those two added 60 before ‘BA’ was caught behind off Thompson for 56, but ‘Bap’ was far from done.

Robinson and skipper Aaron Heywood (17) added 60 more for the seventh wicket as well- the former finally making a priceless 85 (7 fours, 5 sixes) as their side finished the day a single run in front.

In truth, Day 2 began like a mirror image of Day 1- McKeegan making 58 and Ryan Hunter 37 in a 78-run second wicket partnership but this time Thompson (41), Ryan Hunter (37) and skipper Wilson (34) followed them in as Newbuildings reached 183-5.

Back came the Foxies- Kumara (3-34) and Robinson (2-42) stalling Newbuildings, and while he wasn’t among the wickets- Adam Walker’s 0-23 from 7 was no less valuable.

It all meant a second innings total of 225-9 and with that one run lead, Aaron Heywood’s men now needed 225 to win it.

Once again they started slowly- both openers out with the score on 30- and once again, Allen and Co picked up the baton.

Those who had seen Kumara’s century in the semi-final at Eglinton didn’t expect him to fail twice with the bat in the decider. And they were right.

The Sri Lankan teamed up with Brian Allen (46) for a third wicket partnership worth 112, but even after he lost his batting partner, Geeth was now firmly at the helm.

He found another willing partner in Friday’s hero Robinson after Fox Lodge lost a couple more quick wickets- Kumara and ‘Bap’ settling in to reduce the target before accelerating away as Newbuildings couldn’t find a way through.

By the end, the Sri Lankan was picking his time, an unbeaten 90 containing 8 fours and two sixes.

At the other end, Jonny Robinson, no stranger to picking up cup medals, was in his element- his 24-ball 40 (7 fours) seeing to it that the Foxes got over the line with no further concerns.

124 runs and a couple of wickets over the two days saw ‘Bap’ deservedly claim the Man-of-the-Match award as a clearly emotional Aaron Heywood finally got his hands on the big prize.

It was a couple final that will be remembered for some time by the huge crowds (over 2000 across the two days) that were there to see it. And probably never be forgotten for the Ballymagorry club and its supporters.

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