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Red Caps on the brink of league glory

Cricket 4

THE curtain is set to fall on the North West cricket season over the coming days and going into the last match of the Premier League campaign it is Strabane who have the destination of the championship firmly in their own hands.

Peter Gillespie’s men go to Ardmore on Sunday knowing that any kind of win will see the coveted trophy back in the Park for the first time since 2010.

They will also be aware however that the home side has plenty to play for as well as a win here, preceded by one at home to a badly depleted Fox Lodge on Saturday will mean another season at least in the top flight for them.

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Ardmore also have the small matter of bang-in-form Decker Curry in their corner and the Tyrone outfit will need to keep him in check if they are to clinch the title this weekend.

That said, the Red Caps can boast an in-form player of their own at the minute with Mattew Bentley relishing his place at the top of the order as they bid to become champions.

The Zimbabwean’s best efforts have come in the T20 tournament this season but he was in excellent touch in the league this weekend as well.

His 27 against Coleraine was a very good knock in difficult circumstances and he set the reply up for a superb Aaron Gillespie half century that allowed Strabane to come away from a notoriously difficult venue with two points.

Twenty-four hours earlier however, Bentley had posted a brilliant, unbeaten 153 as the Park side overcame Fox Lodge- a resut that not only kept their title hopes alive but also confirmed the Ballymagorry men’s relegation to the Championship.

Having just turned 21 this summer the modest all-rounder could well play a vital role for Strabane in the coming years but for now he seems to have his sights set firmly on his first championship medal.

At the other end of the table it was a big weekend for Bready as well, as David Scanlon’s men put to bed any notion of them being involved in the end-of-season play-off.

A David Barr half century preceded by an excellent bowling performance had helped the Magheramason side burst Brigade’s title chasing bubble for the second season in a row.

The following day, Fox Lodge’s surprise win at home to Eglinton prevented the villagers from joing Bready on points and now means it is a two-horse race between them and Ardmore to decide who tackles Glendermott in that shoot-out.

There may be just two matches to go before all of that is decided but it is likely to be an edgy couple of days in and around the Bleachgreen.

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The Strabane Chronicle is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
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