Donaghcloney marched into the semi-final of the NCU Senior Cup for only the second time in the club’s history.
A superb team effort last Saturday resulted in a seven wicket win over Carrickfergus at the host’s Middle Road ground.
Winning the toss, ‘Cloney skipper Keith Martin surprisingly asked the home side to bat first. Once again he opened the bowling with his spin bowlers and once again it paid dividends.
After 16 overs Carrick were reduced to 51-5 on a good batting track. Steven Hanna had 3-25 and Gary Knox 2-25 at that stage. Mansing Nigade replaced Knox and picked up another wicket to leave the score on 69-6 and Donaghcloney hoping for a total of less than 100 to chase.
However it wasn’t to be as the Carrick professional Louis Delport settled in, and with good support from Geoff Thompson took the score to 110 before he was caught on the boundary by Steve Hanna for 43, off Nigade.
Although Keith Martin switched Nigade, David Marshall and Tim McClure intelligently, the tail wagged just a bit too much and the final score was 152.
After tea, ‘Cloney opened with Colin Hylands and Mansing Nigade against some fast but rather wayward bowling from Haggan and Martin.
Hylands was caught behind with the score on 17, and Bruce Topping joined Nigade, with a lot of expectation on their shoulders. However, Mansing was caught behind for 15, with the score on 33, and Steve Hanna followed at 47.
This brought Keith Martin to the wicket to join Topping and he made his intention clear - not to get out.
With the score at 50, there was a long interruption for rain. Under the Duckworth/Lewis method, the target was re-set, and a further rain delay meant that ‘Cloney were set a final target of 108 in 28 overs.
With Martin showing sound defence, Topping was able to play his shots, and he finished the game with two superb straight sixes off successive balls. His 56 not out made in 92 minutes earned him the man of the match award, while Martin’s watchful defence brought him nine not out in just under an hour- an important supporting innings.
This was a fine win for ‘Cloney, considering they hadn’t had a game since 1 June. The ground fielding was first class, and four good catches were taken. All five bowlers held a good line and all were amongst the wickets. Best was Steve Hanna who captured 3-27 in his 10 overs.
Bruce Topping carried on his good form, and Keith Martin showed he is capable. It can only be a matter of time before the talented Mansing Nigade finds his form, with some big scores surely flowing.
Donaghcloney need have no fears for their semi-final. The bowling attack is better than most in Division 1, and surely the equal of some in the bottom half of the Premier League.
It is the batting which gives concern. Mansing Nigade and Bruce Topping are capable of big innings, while Colin Hylands, Shane Warren, Phil Derby, David Marshall, Gary Knox, Steve Hanna, Robert Lyttle (a superb fielder) and Keith Martin are all capable.
Under the imaginative captaincy of Keith Martin, and with a little luck, you never know! After all, Wigan won the FA Cup...
LATE NEWS: Donacloney have been handed a home draw with neighbours Waringstown in the semi-final. See more next week.