Craig Young’s five-wicket haul ensured the North-West Warriors will take a slight advantage into Day Two of their Hanley Energy Inter-Provincial Championship match with the Northern Knights at Eglinton.
An excellent bowling performance from the home side, allied with a late unbroken fifth-wicket stand between skipper Andy McBrine (29*) and the recalled Niall McDonnell (18*) put the Warriors in the driving seat on a day when the bowlers were firmly on top until the final hour.
It was a historic day for Irish cricket given the elevation in status that the Championship now enjoys and despite a three-hour delay in starting due to the rain, it proved to be a fascinating afternoon befitting the occasion.
The Warriors made the most of ideal conditions to bowl Simon Johnston’s charges out for just 130 first up with Ireland Internationals Craig Young and Stuart Thompson doing most of the damage.
The visitors’ innings lasted less than 38 overs in all with Young particularly impressive as he claimed 5-37 while Thompson chipped in with 3-32 on his home ground.
The Knights’ batting effort was all about skipper James Shannon as he single-handedly kept the Warriors’ attack at bay; the Instonians batsman hitting 8 fours and 2 sixes in his valiant 71.
James McCollum’s 11 was next best after that, giving an indication of the bowling side’s dominance and Shannon’s resilience in those early exchanges.
To be fair, McBrine’s team also found the going tough at the start of their reply- Nathan Smith picking up a couple of early wickets as the Warriors struggled to 43-4 before that late rally from the skipper and McDonnell.
The latter, now Assistant Coach to Ian McGregor, had only been drafted into the squad late last night after it became apparent that Johnny Thompson would still be sidelined by his hamstring injury.
Resuming just 41 behind and with six wickets in hand the not-out batsmen, and indeed the rest of the order, will now have a chance in the morning to give the home side a meaningful lead, although you would expect the Knights to come out fired-up knowing the importance of the morning session.
Battle will be rejoined at 11am on Wednesday in what has all the makings of a really intriguing contest.
Hanley Energy Inter-Provincial Championship
At Eglinton, Day 1 of 3
NORTHERN KNIGHTS 130 all out (37.5 overs; J Shannon 71, C Young 5-37, S Thompson 3-32)
NORTH-WEST WARRIORS 89-4 (35 overs; A McBrine 29*, Nathan Smith 2-17).