Coleraine to be crowned champions after dispute

Scott Campbell.
Scott Campbell.
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It’s not how they would have wanted it to happen, but Coleraine Cricket Club will be crowned 2015 NW Premiership winners.

It looked as though the league was heading towards a dramatic play-off finale this Sunday with the Bannsiders taking on Brigade in a winner takes all clash.

But those plans were thrown into turmoil at the start of the week as the Beechgrove outfit stated they would not field a team.

Brigade, led by chairman Graeme Moore, insisted North West officials were told a number of weeks ago the club wouldn’t be available to take part in a play-off this Sunday (September 13).

Gareth McKeegan, Ryan Hunter and Ian McGregor leave for foreign holidays on Sunday but all three are available to play on Saturday.

In a statement issued on Thursday by the NWCU Board of Control it was confirmed the game at Eglinton would not be going ahead, and arrangemnets were now being made to present Coleraine with the trophy.

The statement said: “The North West Cricket Union has noted with genuine disappointment the statement released by Brigade Cricket Club on Wednesday evening stating that they will not be taking their place in the title-deciding play-off this Sunday at Eglinton.

“Obviously this is disappointing for Brigade themselves, but also for Coleraine and indeed host club Eglinton who have already put in many hours of preparation for what we had hoped would be the pinnacle of the domestic season.

“It has been an extremely difficult year for all involved especially given the awful weather we’ve encountered this summer. There are still several high profile games to be played, but officers have worked diligently at setting dates in the hope that we can get the season completed before the official cut-off date.

“The fact that the domestic programme cannot go on beyond the 20th September was a major consideration in negotiations with clubs involved in end-of-season matches. And while due consideration was given to all the mitigating circumstances, the Union had to be fair to all clubs involved in these games, either in a playing or hosting capacity. To that end on 31 August we issued a full and precise list of all the respective finals and play-off dates and venues.

“There are clear and concise regulations governing what constitutes a legitimate reason for having dates of matches changed once set however holidays and work commitments are not among them. The Union has had to make several difficult decisions this season already regarding players not being available for high profile matches, however those decisions were taken and subsequently accepted by the parties involved.

“This is not the end of the season that we had hoped for however we feel that it is absolutely essential that members abide by the dates set by those responsible. We should also point out that Coleraine CC agreed througout to comply with any decision of the Union.

“As things stand, and given that we have received official confirmation from Brigade that they will not be fulfilling the fixture, we have no choice but to make arrangements with Coleraine CC to carry out a formal presentation.”