Derriaghy clinch NCU Section One title and promotion

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Derriaghy captain Craig Lewis insists the club will trust in the talent of their home-grown young players when they return to the NCU Premier League next season.

The Queensway side are back in the top flight after an absence of seven years following the finale to the campaign on Sunday.

Derriaghy would have been expecting to require a victory over Woodvale at Ballygomartin Road to secure promotion but Muckamore, their only rivals, lost a last-over thriller against relegation-threatened Cliftonville at Mallusk.

That meant Derriaghy had begun celebrating even before they wrapped up victory by seven wickets.

Derriaghy will face a big challenge next season but Lewis is adamant they won’t be on a recruitment drive over the winter.

“It feels brilliant, we never thought we would be here six months ago. I’m just overjoyed for the boys, they are a great bunch of lads,” he said. “We made a change to the batting order after we lost the first couple of matches this season, and the young boys started to come good and myself and Alfy (Kaushik Aphale) decided to actually score some runs.”

The odds might be stacked against Derriaghy with the gap between the top two divisions widening but Lewis is adamant his young side won’t be intimidated.

“We’re going to have to pre-season hard, the boys know it’s not going to be easy, we will be in a battle every week, but we will be up for it,” he added.

“We certainly won’t be going out looking for people, we will go with what we have. Of course if say they want to come to us, they are very welcome, but we are not going to be throwing money around. Alfie is back for certain.”

Aphale, the Indian professional, struck three sixes and a four in a top score of 42 in yesterday’s run chase, but although he went lbw to Timmy Browne, Derriaghy got home with 16 balls to spare.

Alarms were few and far between for Lewis’ men although they did have to withstand a blistering early assault from the Woodvale openers Sam Fleming and Michael Irwin. Lewis’ first over went for 17 and the home side were 38 without loss after just three overs before the wheels came off.

Irwin went for 23 and Fleming, who had struck two fours and a six, had to retire hurt after he appeared to injure knee ligaments. Lewis bounced back emphatically to take five wickets in just 3.3 overs as Woodvale were dismissed for 95.

Muckamore now face a winter of soul-searching after their promotion campaign ended in failure.

Their woes were probably encapsulated by yesterday’s defeat at Mallusk.

Ryan Haire top scored with 31 and Neil Gill made 22 but Muckamore were all out for 113 with two balls unused.

Cliftonville, who needed to win to have a chance of staying up, were indebted to an unbroken partnership for the third wicket between Jonathan Terrett and teenager Adam Kelso. Terrett struck five fours and a six in his unbeaten 45 while Nelson was undefeated on 32 as Cliftonville got home with four balls to spare.

Cliftonville face Donacloney next weekend knowing that they not only need to win, but also to overturn a run-rate deficit. It is believed they would have to chase what target Donacloney set inside 16 overs or, if batting first, win the match by more than 12 runs.