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Ballymena slide further from the elite after more relegation woe

By Ian Callender

Just two seasons after playing in the Premier League, Ballymena will be in Section Two next year after being relegated for the second successive time.

A nine-wicket defeat to Lurgan sealed the Eaton Park side's fate, their 15th loss in the 18-match programme which also included a no-result.

They will be replaced in Section One next year by Cliftonville, who have won Section Two by eight points from Holywood and Cregagh. Millpark finished bottom, without a win, and return to Section Three although at least they finished the season. Sadly, Drumaness withdrew.

Drumaness' absence is Donaghadee's gain as two teams are now promoted from Section Three, which was won this year by Larne, whose only defeat was against the runners-up.

In the North West, Fox Lodge will replace Strabane in the Premiership, although they obviously took their celebrations a little too far last Sunday, bowled out for 30 in their penultimate game by Newbuildings, who stay in contention for promotion.

However, if Glendermott beat Killyclooney on Saturday, they will claim the runners-up spot because of their head-to head record against Newbuildings, who end with a game against Bonds Glen on Sunday.

Three of the other league winners in the North West are known with Bready II, Ardmore II and Newbuildings II the champions while Ardmore III and Fox Lodge III meet on Sunday for the Qualifying 4 title. An Ardmore victory will give the Bleachgreen club their fifth trophy of the season, and complete the double for the Thirds after their six-run win over Bready V in the cup final last weekend.

Civil Service North, Derriaghy and Eglinton will each have teams in this year's all-Ireland youth finals.

CSN defeated St Johnston to reach the U11 final, which will be played on Sunday at midday, Eglinton U13s have home advantage against Leinster, also on Sunday, at 1.30pm, and Derriaghy will host Rush in the U15 decider on Sunday week at noon.

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