Coleraine Firsts tasted double cup success this week as they beat both Brigade in the NW T20 Cup and Glendermott in the NW Senior Cup.
Thursday evening saw the opening match of the group stage in the new North West T20 Cup when Coleraine entertained Brigade at Sandel Lodge.
Coleraine’s only League defeat this year was at the hands of Brigade and most commentators believed that their bowling attack would once again be too strong for the Bannsiders. With the home side batting first, these predictions appeared to be coming true as wickets fell regularly.
At 5 for 42 in the 12th over Coleraine were in real trouble until the only two decent partnerships of the innings – 24 between Niall McDonnell and Paul Douglas for the 6th wicket and 25 between McDonnell and Jarred Barnes for the seventh – saw the total edge above 100.
With McDonnell departing in the final over for a very well-made 32, Coleraine closed on a modest 106 for 7.
Although Gordon Cooke took an early wicket, at 45 for 1 in the ninth over, Brigade appeared to be in complete control. Slowly Kyllin Vardhan pulled it back for Coleraine as he removed the visitors’ overseas professional Divijay Amarnath, Ryan Hunter and crucially the dangerous Johnny Thompson.
At the other end he received good support from 14 year old Varun Chopra who bowled a very tidy four over spell in which he conceded just 12 runs. Brigade, however were still in the driving seat, with only 29 runs required off five overs with six wickets in hand.
At this point Gareth Burns returned to the attack and in a devastating 18th over he claimed three wickets, including that of Brigade’s captain Gareth McKeagan.
Going into the final over Brigade needed 11 runs to win. Andy Britton hit a massive six to cow corner off the first ball to reduce the equation to five runs required off five balls but the bowler, Gordon Cooke, held his nerve as two ball later Britton became his second victim of the evening.
With five runs still required, Richard Hepburn and Mark Simpson were only able to squeeze a single off each the last three balls as Coleraine recorded a thrilling one run victory over their rivals.
On Saturday, the 1st XI were again in action at Sandel Lodge, this time against Glendermott in the second round of the North West Senior Cup. With Coleraine winning the toss and opting to bat, openers Niall McDonnell and Scott Campbell got their side off to a solid start with a stand of 85 runs for the first wicket. McDonnell and Campbell both made 45 and with 39 from David Cooke and 29 each for Kyllin Vardhan and John Ring, the home side posted a decent total of 207 for 6 in their 50 overs.
Gareth Burns claimed the wickets of Glendermott’s opening batsmen, but this brought their overseas professional Roy Silva to the crease. Silva is no stranger to Sandel Lodge, having played as Coleraine’s professional last year and after taking a few balls to play himself in, he signalled his intent by smacking three boundaries in the 14th over.
His old teammates knew that if anyone had the ability to take the game away from them it was Silva and at this point Gordon Cooke threw the ball to 14 year old Varun Chopra.
In the third over of his spell he justified the confidence his captain had shown in him as he claimed the prize wicket of Silva. With their professional gone, Glendermott capitulated for just 86 runs with two wicket for Kyllin Vardhan and one for Rishi Chopra. Undoubted star of the game however was Varun Chopra who added 4 more wickets to his total to finish with the remarkable figures of five wickets for 19 runs in his eight overs.
This win takes Coleraine into the semi-finals of the Senior Cup, with an away draw against holders Donemana on Saturday 28th June, the day before their next fixture in the Irish Senior Cup.
The draw for the Irish Cup quarter finals took place on Tuesday, with Coleraine and St Johnston, the only North West teams still in the competition.
Coleraine were delighted to receive the home advantage, but will meet North Down, who were their successful competitors in the Ulster Cup earlier this season.
Next weekend the 1st XI have two fixtures in the League with a home game on Saturday against Donemana and a rescheduled away game at Strabane.
Both will prove to be a test for the Coleraine side as they aim to challenge Strabane and Bready who are currently at the top of the league table.