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Ballyspallen blow promotion hopes as Foxes hold nerve in thriller

 

By Ian Callender

Fox Lodge will play in the Long's SuperValu Premiership again next season but Ballyspallen know they should have been swapping places with them.

In yesterday's promotion/relegation play-off at Beechgrove, this year's Senior Cup finalists were 120 for one, chasing 199 for victory, but they lost their last nine wickets for 73 to fall six runs short.

Ballyspallen were still favourites with two overs to go, needing seven from the last 12 balls, albeit with just two wickets left, but they could manage only a single from the 34th over - the game reduced to 35 overs by a delayed start - and when Craig Averill was caught in the deep from the third ball of the last over, Adam Walker bowled Stuart Kennedy next ball to give the Foxes victory.

Brian Allen dominated the Fox Lodge innings with 88 (seven sixes and six fours) from 50 balls, but Ballyspallen's West Indian overseas player Darnell McCallum almost matched him with 78 (six sixes and seven fours) from 43 and shared an opening stand of 91 with Stephen Kennedy.

In the other play-off game in the North West, Glendermott retained their place in the Championship with a six wickets victory over Sion Mills, Stuart Cochrane having figures of 7-5-6-4 as the Qualifying 1 side were bowled out for 77.

In the NCU, Cliftonville were relegated to Section Two after losing to Bangor (136-6 in 20 overs) yesterday by 63 runs at Upritchard Park, while Laurelvale beat Templepatrick by six wickets at Hollinger Park to go top of Section Two.

Laurelvale are certain to be promoted but they will be pipped to the title next Sunday if Cregagh beat Saintfield.

LONG'S SUPERVALU PREMIERSHIP PROMOTION/RELEGATION PLAY-OFF

Beechgrove: Fox Lodge 198-8 (35 overs, B Allen 88 not out, D Mehaffey 27; S McCluskey 2-32, St Kennedy 2-36, M Averill 2-39) Ballyspallen 193 (34.4 overs, D McCallum 78, C Averill 43, Ste Kennedy 37; J Milligan 3-23, A Walker 2-34, A Boyd 2-45). Fox Lodge won by 5 runs and stay in the Premieship.

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