Cricket: Villagers ready to seize Premier League crown
Waringstown, the defending joint champions of the Ulster Bank Premier League, have taken the destination of this year’s title to the last Saturday.
Back-to-back victories over Lurgan and yesterday against Lisburn left them just two points behind the leaders and poised to win the title outright if North Down slip up in their final match.
While Waringstown will expect to win at Stormont, against an under-strength Civil Service North, North Down must beat CIYMS, including Craig McMillan, at Belmont to regain the trophy they have won seven times in the last 11 years.
The Villagers ended Lisburn’s challenge with a seven wickets win at The Lawn mainly thanks to Lee Nelson’s best innings of the summer. The Ireland under -19 international scored 75 not out from 92 balls with eight fours and four sixes as Waringstown reached their target of 164 for the loss of just three wickets with more than eight overs to spare.
For the second day in a row, the Villagers proved they can win without a significant contribution from Kyle McCallan. On Saturday Andrew Cousins and James Hall added an unbeaten 115 for the second wicket and yesterday Hall produced another solid 43 to ensure the vital win.
North Down remain in pole position after a nine wicket win over Ballymena at Eaton Park. Despite David Kennedy continuing his good end-of-season form — he scored 90 out of the home side’s 237 for eight in 48 overs — North Down reached their revised target of 166 in 37 overs with 11 balls to spare.
Andrew Sutherland continued his personal destruction of the Ballymena attack this season with an unbeaten 74 to take his aggregate in the three games to 298. Ryan Haire, who scored 158 in the league game at The Green had scored exactly half that on Saturday when the game was won.
With Downpatrick playing Lurgan in their last game, Ballymena will be desperate for one more win to preserve their Premier League status when they host Carrickfergus.
Muckamore will return to the top flight, for the first time in nine years, as champions of Section One after Bangor lost their third successive game.
Former Ireland international Ralph Coetzee scored 88 not out and took five for 22 as Muckamore clinched the title with a 93 runs win over Cliftonville. And Donacloney confirmed their promotion to Section One with victory over Cregagh.