Brigade force North West title play-off after thrilling finish

Brigade's Johnny Robinson
Brigade's Johnny Robinson

Brigade and Coleraine will meet in a play-off to decide the destination of the North West Premiership title after the regular season ended in truly dramatic fashion at Beechgrove on Saturday.

The psychological advantage may now lie with Brigade with the teams to clash again at Eglinton next Sunday.

Firstly, because Coleraine should have had the trophy secured before now, and secondly because of the remarkable nature of Saturday’s finale.

Brigade held their nerve - only just - as Johnny Robinson played arguably the most important innings of his career.

Andy Britton’s team had looked in control on 55 for one chasing a target of 155 but Coleraine captain Scott Campbell turned the game on its head with a wonderful spell of left-arm slow bowling.

He changed the momentum by removing Gareth McKeegan (28) and Iftikhar Hussain (34) on his way to taking 5-15 in his 10 overs.

At 98 for seven, Coleraine were favourites and Brigade’s title hopes were hanging by a thread.

But on a day of momentum changes, Robinson found a willing ally in Nick Donnell (17), the eighth-wicket pair adding 52 priceless runs to take Brigade to within five of victory.

Graeme McCarter (3-27) had other ideas though, and he first bowled Donnell and then from the very next delivery trapped Mark Simpson lbw to make it 150 for nine.

Gareth Connor, the number 11, managed to safely negotiate the last ball of McCarter’s over and at the start of the next, bowled by Kyllin Vardhan, Robinson finished it in one blow.

He launched the ball high towards deep mid-wicket and although McCarter got a hand on it, he could not prevent it going all the way for six.

In the one game on Saturday that meant little, Donemana recorded a resounding victory over Ardmore at The Holm.

Simon Killen struck a half-century and Ryan Brolly added 30 as Ardmore got themselves into a decent position batting first. But Ireland international Andy McBrine ran through the visitors, taking six for 13 with his off-spinners.

Only an unbeaten 26 from Decker Curry, batting down at number 10, helped Ardmore reach some semblance of respectability on 165 all out.

Donemana rejigged their batting line-up as Jordan McGonigle and Willie McBrine opened, but it was Ricky-Lee Dougherty who finished proceedings in a hurry. The Warriors wicketkeeper struck eight fours and three sixes on his way to an unbeaten 83.

Richie McBrine was unbeaten on 30.