Cricket: Strabane winning streak secures title success
It was a winning burst which no-one could live with that kept the Henderson Properties Senior One League title in the Strabane Park clubhouse.
After the most closely-contested championship race in years, eight successive wins from July 24 gave Strabane a four points winning margin — and that hasn’t been bettered in the North West in a 10-team league since 2003.
Peter Gillespie needed only three runs to reach 1,400 for the summer and that is exactly what he was on, watching from the other end as older brother Mark finished the match and the season with a six after taking three wickets for 15 runs to give him 52 for the summer.
The former internationals’ consistency and all-round contributions have been the stand-out in the Red Caps title triumph and having lost at home to St Johnston, Strabane had no greater incentive for a revenge victory. They failed to bowl out the Saints but needed only 28.3 overs to reach their 131 runs target and render events elsewhere on the final day meaningless.
As it happened both Brigade, in second place, and Eglinton, second bottom, lost, the latter needing only two wins against relegated St Johnston to preserve their top flight status.
Brigade’s last day reversal was at Donemana, a game all about the McBrine twins whose plans to retire are “at least two years” premature. They signed off as 47 year olds in the grand manner with James hitting eight fours and eight sixes in his innings of 101 and Junior finishing with figures of seven for 30 in their 63 runs success.
Bready finished alongside Brigade in second place after beating Glendermott by two wickets and it was the same margin at Eglinton where Fox Lodge beat homeless Limavady after a season the Roesiders will want to forget.
Bonds Glen still have a chance of playing in the top flight for the first time after beating Ballyspallen to send them into Saturday’s final round of Senior Two games level with Ardmore.