Junior Cup ties at Millpark are always a little bit special, and Saturday at Banford Green was no exception.
Millpark, 1999 joint winners of the famous old cup, welcomed Downpatrick 2nds to Banford Green, and were invited to bat by the visitors. It is fair to say that their skipper may later have come to regret this decision.
Millpark’s openers, captain Paul McCart and Saeed Ali did well to build to 35-0 before the former was frustrated to be out for 10, his partner departing soon after for 23. Both were disappointed to be out, as the sticky pitch had begun to dry out and started to play well.
The stage was set, therefore, for the top and middle order to push on. Ryan McCart, a talented but sometimes frustrating player, became the fifth of his lineage to join the Millpark Centurion Club, as he played beautifully. He was well supported in turn by the smooth Ben Talbot (19), determined Andrew Woods (28) and latterly belligerent Davy Glover (41).
Ryan showed a wide range of cultured strokeplay as he accumulated runs in a smooth, powerful manner. All the Downpatrick bowlers suffered during his innings as he went through to fifty, and then converted it to a very fine century. He was finally out for 105, bowled by Rae. His innings contained seven 4s and five 6s, and he was applauded by proud family members, teammates and opponents as he made his way back to the pavilion.
Davy Glover was now joined at the wicket by Johnny Breen (17), and Glover took McCart’s dismissal as his signal to accelerate. Having supported his teammate, Glover moved through the gears, and the two batsmen pushed the scoring rate higher. One over went for 22, including three 6s, before both players succumbed as Millpark climbed towards 300.
Stuart McCart (18) also took up the cudgels as Millpark made it through the 300 barrier, finishing on 301-9.
To their credit, Downpatrick started their reply in determined fashion. Their opening batsman, Neil Reilly (44) looked a good player, hitting the ball hard and true, as he and his opening partner rattled up an opening stand of 55 before the first wicket fell.
The third wicket did not fall until the visitors had passed 100 after 25 overs. The problem was that the scoring rate had started to climb, mainly due to the control shown by second change bowler Paul McCart (1-25).
Runs did continue to come. However, they were not scored at the required rate, and wickets continued to fall as Downpatrick started to subside.
Unusually, none of Millpark’s first three bowlers took a wicket. Davy Glover, although more expensive than usual (3-48), crucially accounted for batsmen 2,3 and 4. Ryan McCart completed his memorable day at with 2-20, father Stevie managed an almost flawless 2-2 and young Harry Lockhart with 1-0 showed unerring accuracy.
Downpatrick were dismissed for 151, giving Millpark a fantastic 150 run margin of victory. The quarter finals see Millpark host what will be a competitive Lisburn 2nds team on 21 June.