On Saturday, Coleraine 1st XI were at home in the Premier League to follow up their previous game, the week before in the Faughan Valley Cup, against the same opposition – Brigade.
With the forecast looking bleak for the entire weekend, the Coleraine team and spectators alike, were pessimistic that the game would be uninterrupted by rain, but with Duckworth Lewis, it might just be possible to get a result. From the start, the covers were off and on, with mopping up by the grounds staff, in the constant battle to make the field playable.
At 1.10pm the players took to the field, with Coleraine batting, as Brigade had won the toss and hoped to take advantage of the damp pitch.
After just five minutes Coleraine had lost one wicket and were off again as the rain returned. Two more attempts to play succeeded only in reaping rewards for the Brigade bowlers, as Coleraine were struggling on 40 for 4 after 10 overs.
A further lengthy stop allowed for tea to be taken, but whenever, after 6pm, only nine more balls were bowled, before they had to come off again, it was looking as if the game would never be finished.
The umpires had given as much time as could reasonably be expected, knowing that they had to complete a minimum 20 overs per side, but by half past six with the rain falling heavily, the game was finally abandoned.
On Sunday, Coleraine First XI played host to St Johnston in the quarter-final of the Danske Bank Senior Cup.
This match had originally been scheduled to be played last Saturday, but had been postponed because of heavy rain at the weekend and both teams knew that if a result could not be achieved on Sunday on the field, the identity of the team progressing to the semi-final of the competition would be decided by a bowl-out – the cricketing equivalent of a penalty shoot-out.
The weather forecast for Sunday was not promising but tireless work by club officials ensured that the ground was ready for play to commence on schedule at 1.00pm.
Having won the toss, St Johnston elected to bat and started positively, but when Roy Silva trapped the visitors’ captain lbw in the third over, this signalled the start of a mini-collapse which saw 17 without loss become 36 for 5 – with three more wickets for Silva and one for Gareth Burns. David Lapsley and Ian Macbeth dug in to build a decent partnership of 40 runs but after this was broken by Gordon Cooke, who took first the wicket of Lapsley and then that of Macbeth.
It was only going to be a matter of time before St Johnston succumbed. A further wicket apiece for Cooke and Burns and a run out by Mark Averill saw the Donegal side all out for 131 in 43.1 overs.
In the second innings, St Johnston’s young opening bowlers struggled from the outset to cope with the power and talent of Niall McDonnell and Scott Campbell.
McDonnell in particular found the boundary regularly striking 8 fours on this way to a 40 ball fifty.
Shortly after Campbell also reached his half century and although he was subsequently caught off the bowling of Ian Macbeth, Coleraine were only six runs short of their target of 132.
Fittingly McDonnell struck the winning runs to finish 68 not out and cement his position as the leading run scorer in the North West Premiership with over 500 runs this season already.
He also picked up the man of the Match award presented after the game by Billy Roulston.
Coleraine now progress to the Semi-final of the competition with a home draw against the current holders of the Cup, Donemana.
St Johnston 131 (43.1 overs, I Macbeth 32, R Silva 4-31, G Cooke 3-26, G Burns 2-20) Coleraine 132-1 (24.3 overs, N McDonnell 68*, S Campbell 50)