On Saturday Coleraine 1st XI were expecting to play in the first round of the RSA Bob Kerr Irish Senior Cup against last year’s finalists, Dublin Club, Merrion.
This had been trailed as the most exciting clash of the weekend’s fixtures because of the high hopes of both sides in winning silverware in their respective Unions.
Whilst the weather forecast was certainly oppressive, there was still an element of optimism as Coleraine prepared their grounds during the week. On Saturday morning, as the Merrion team set off on their journey, there was the general belief that if it was dry overhead, there would be play at Coleraine. The Duckworth Lewis system would be in operation for any rain delays if they could reach at least 10 overs of play in the first innings.
At times during the morning the sun shone, but there had also been some overnight rain. The covers had done their job and the pitch was dry enough to play on as the umpires inspected the ground before 12.30, but with the outfield still drying out, they decided that play would not start before 1.30pm and with a further short shower this was delayed again to 2pm.
When the players took to the field and a few hardy supporters watched, play did get underway at that stage. The toss had been won by the visitors and they had opted to field (the obvious choice with the probability of this being a rain affected and Duckworth Lewis adapted game).
As the game began, Coleraine got off to a tentative start against fierce pace bowling from Ronan McDonald and Dom Joyce, with both taking a wicket as Coleraine first lost Scott Campbell in the fourth over and then professional Roy Silva in the seventh. Coleraine captain David Cooke joined opener Niall McDonnell at the crease on just 15 for 2, as they attempted to rebuild the innings, but at 25 for 2 after just 12 overs and 53 minutes there was a torrential downpour of hail stones which drove the teams off the field for a further delay.
The overs had already been reduced by the umpires to 43 each innings before the start of play but in effect this was immaterial as the minutes ticked away. Unfortunately the damage had been done before the covers, pushed onto the pitch, were steered into place. Indeed the strong winds were blowing the wheeled covers back off the pitch as the ground staff struggled to keep them there.
The umpires decided to take tea and review the situation, but all those watching, believed that this was the end of play. After further discussions the team captains shook hands and started to discuss the reserve dates for the replay at Merrion. The Coleraine supporters saw this as both good and bad news – clearly the team had the chance to start again, as recovery from losing those important wickets would not have been easy, but on the downside Coleraine had lost their home advantage and would have to travel on the morning of the match to play in Dublin.
As it stands the most likely date for the replay is Sunday 26 May, subject to agreement of the teams and the fixtures secretaries in both Unions.
As for the rest of the fixtures in the Irish Cup, all those due to take place in the North West were abandoned without play. Elsewhere eight games were played out of the 16 due to take place. Only Fox Lodge from the NWCU succeeded in advancing to the next round.
Coleraine 2nds, 3rds and 4ths were due to play during the weekend but all those fixtures were also called off without any play.
This week Coleraine 1st XI will play Glendermott on Thursday evening in the Faughan Valley T20 Cup competition at Glendermott starting at 6.30pm and then they host Strabane at Sandel Lodge on Saturday in the League. Also on Saturday the 2nd XI are due to play Bready 2nds and the Coleraine 3rds play Bready 3rds both games taking place at Magheramason.
Coleraine 4ths have a home game at CAI grounds against Ballyspallen 2nds. All Saturday games are due to start at 1pm.