With the North West Premier League title safely in the bag, Coleraine 1st XI travelled to Ballymagorry on Saturday for the final League match of the 2013 season.
Opponents, Fox Lodge, came into the game on the back of a number of good results and added to the fact that Coleraine were missing a number of regular players, they were clearly hoping to capitalise on home advantage to pull off an unlikely victory over the North West Champions.
The home side were encouraged by an early breakthrough as both Roy Silva and Jarred Barnes were bowled by Gareth Heywood to leave the visitors on 9 for 2. Teenagers Curtis Cooke and Stephen Hutchinson followed soon afterwards and when Scott Campbell, who had looked comfortable at the crease, was run out on 24, Fox Lodge began to believe that this would be their day.
However, with five wickets down, the experienced pairing of Gordon Cooke and Niall McDonnell came together and began to repair the damage. Over the next fourteen overs Cooke took control, hitting one four and four sixes in an aggressive 41.
When he departed, he was replaced by his brother David and he added 86 with McDonnell before a hamstring injury forced him to retire on 54. Gareth Burns and teenagers Ben Johnston and Varun Chopra partnered McDonnell through to the end of the innings as McDonnell finished on 55 not out and Coleraine closed on 217 for 8.
Fox Lodge’s opening batsmen, Jason Milligan and Iftikar Hussain, both star North West Warriors’ players, lost no time in putting their team into a strong position as they raced to 79 without loss in 14 overs.
The introduction of spinners Scott Campbell and 13-year-old Varun Chopra slowed the scoring rate and the pressure they exerted soon paid dividends as Campbell had first Hussain and then Milligan dismissed, in both cases, just two runs short of their respective half centuries.
Chopra then claimed his first Premier League wicket as he had Brian Allen trapped lbw and in the space of four overs, 101 without loss had turned into 107 for 3. The next four wickets also fell to Campbell – to see him finish with the superb figures of 6 for 23 off 10 overs.
Chopra added a second wicket to his total before Gordon Cooke took the final two wickets to wrap up the tail and secure a convincing 88-run victory for Coleraine.
Although this was the end of the League campaign for Coleraine, they have one more opportunity to claim a further title, as they play in the final of the Faughan Valley Premiership Cup next Sunday.
The match, which takes place at Eglinton Cricket Club, will be the grand finale of this T20 competition as Coleraine take on Donemana, who won the Tyrone section of the draw.
The game is due to start at 3.20pm and it is hoped that a large number of supporters will come along to Eglinton on September 8th to enjoy this exciting finish to the cricket season as Coleraine’s 1st XI attempt to “do the treble”, adding the Faughan Valley Cup to Coleraine’s trophy cabinet for the 2013 season.