Ballymena and Derriaghy are going in opposite directions

Ballymena's James Kennedy
Ballymena's James Kennedy

While Ballymena return to Section One after seven consecutive seasons in the top flight, Derriaghy are looking forward to life back in the Premier League in 2016.

We evaluate their respective seasons and prospects for next summer.

Ballymena: Bottom of the Premier League, they were actually sitting pretty at the beginning of July, a fine win at Carrickfergus leaving them apparently comfortable on eight points. But they didn’t win another match, with the departure of Steven Lazars back to the sub-continent depriving James Kennedy of one of his three match-winners.

Azeem Ghummann, the Pakistan professional, was excellent in the circumstances, 644 runs at an average of more than 53 a remarkable effort in a team fighting relegation and at a ground not exactly synonymous with free-flowing batting. Kennedy made 417 runs at 34 and Michael Taylor contributed 240 runs and 16 wickets, but it was too early for many of their young cricketers.

Ballymena tried their eyestrings out on the pitch but they are better off rebuilding in Section One.

Derriaghy: When news of Muckamore’s defeat reached Derriaghy’s players and supporters at Ballygomartin Road earlier this month, there was no ambiguity - they are delighted to be going back up. They have already committed to Kaushik Aphale, the veteran Indian all-rounder who is a proven performer in the NCU’s top flight.

Much will depend on Craig Lewis, the dynamic all-rounder and captain, while the likes of Andrew Kenny have top-flight experience.

Lewis says they will be sticking with youth next season and it’s an admirable philosophy.