Premiership title race goes down to the wire
Bready were unable to wrap up the Premiership title race at home to Eglinton today meaning the door has been left open for Newbuildings to nick it when they play Ardmore in their final league game.
The current holders knew that if they matched the beaten cup finalists’ points tally this afternoon, they would have retained their title, however a patched-up village side gave the Magheramason men all they wanted.
Eglinton travelled without half of their usual first team, but an excellent 56 at the top of the order from skipper Andy Millar got them off to a good start as they batted first.
More was to come from Tommy Orr- the Warriors’ keeper/batsman in scintillating form as he hit 11 fours in his unbeaten 130.
Robbie Millar (22) and Mike Erlank (17*) also chipped in as Eglinton, with two of the club’s women’s players making their senior debut alongside two third XI players, racked up a daunting total of 247-2 from their 40 overs.
The villagers inexperience did show in the field but they still pushed their hosts every inch of the way before succumbing to the very last ball of the innings, and with the last pair at the wicket.
Ian Young’s unbeaten 62 was the defining effort with the bat- that final delivery drilled to the boundary with 2 runs needed to win.
Gavin Roulston (43), James McKillop (34), Robert Spence (31) and Jamie Magee (25) all played their part as well and although Bready fell over the winning line to keep the title race alive- you could sense that skipper David Scanlon knew they had blown a golden opportunity to make sure today.
Newbuildings did what they had to, although they too made a bit of heavy weather of getting past their cup final conquerors last week Fox Lodge.
Ryan Hunter made 69, Jared Wilson 59 not out and Gareth McKeegan a 24-ball 52, while Leeroy McKeegan hit 40 at the top of the order in a total of 282-6.
It looked plenty, however not for the first time in the past week, Newbuildings found Brian Allen a difficult proposition to shift.
While ‘BA’ was in the middle there was always a live danger to the visitors’ title hopes, however once the left hander had gone for an excellent 82, the fight was out of the Foxes.
Johnny Robinson chipped in with 29 while Jason Dunn helped himself to 3-33, Gary Mitchell 3-39 and skipper Wilson 2-23 as Fox Lodge were all out for 219.
Crucially, the 63-run margin meant the full set of bonus points for Newbuildings whereas Bready didn’t get any- meaning the balance of power had shifted.
With Brigade’s game at home to Donemana postponed for 24 hours, the only other top-flight contest was another thriller as Ardmore came home from Coleraine with a 2-run success.
Harry Zimmerman made 66 and Tyron Koen 50 in the Bleachgreen side’s 183-6 with Stephen Hutchinson (3-32) and Ravi Karunaratne (2-32) best with the ball for the home side.
Varun Chopra made 52 and Rory Know 38 in the Bannsiders’ reply, however Koen showed his class with the ball again to pick up 5-34 and Zimmerman added 2-30 as Coleraine landed just 2 runs short of the target.
There were just a couple of matches in the Championship after Bonds Glen wrapped up the title last week; Mark Pollock and Aidan Logue making half centuries for Burndennett as they set Strabane a target of 163.
Erik Musuku (3-23), Tanvir Hasan (3-32) and Aaron Gillespie (2-24) were all on the mark with the ball for the visitors, who ran out easy winners.
Conor Graham (57*), Musuku (51*) and skipper Gillespie (32) made short work of the reply in an 8-wicket success for the Red Caps.
A Michael Rankin century was the highlight at the Boathole as the Saints beat Killyclooney by 145 runs to finish just a fraction behind the Bee Gees in the table.
Rankin hit 7 fours and 6 sixes in his 101, with Jacob Maroske adding 50 and Ian Macbeth 39 in their 287-6.
Jordan Nelson made 31, Darren Moan 29 and Richard McMorris 29 as ‘Clooney closed on 142 in reply.