Niall McDonnell smashes century in crucial win for Coleraine

Coleraine's Niall McDonnell
Coleraine's Niall McDonnell

Champions Coleraine are finally on the move in the race to defend their title and the north coast side joined Bready in third place after a convincing North West Premiership win at Magheramason on Sunday.

Niall McDonnell recently announced his retirement from the interprovincial scene and perhaps severing ties with the Warriors has liberated the batsmen who was arguably the outstanding player in the region last year.

The former Strabane opener set the platform for a crucial win for the Bannsiders as he struck an unbeaten 129 when they batted first in a 59-run win.

McDonnell hit 13 fours and a six and although six of the other seven batsmen to get in all got into double figures, nobody else got to 20.

Bready professional Ernie Kemm, who bowls excellent left-arm spin, with one for 22 from 10 overs was the pick of the bowling along with Ryan Barr who claimed two for 39 from his eight overs.

Bready were on the back foot almost immediately in their reply as Gordon Cooke took the crucial wicket of talisman David Rankin for just nine and youngster Andrew Austin quickly followed for two.

The innings was rebuilt by David Barr (37) and Kemm, who added 68 for the third wicket before Rish Chopra removed the former.

However at 130 for three the home team were well in the hunt before left-arm slow bowler Scott Campbell exposed a brittle middle order.

He made the breakthrough by removing Kemm, who struck 54 including four fours and Craig Young (21) in quick succession.

Their dismissals were the signal for a dramatic collapse and the home side lost any chance with the last seven wickets going down for just 52 runs.

Both sides now lie just two wins behind Brigade and Strabane and it looks like being an interesting last six weeks of the season.

Brigade and Strabane are very much in the box seat though and unless both suffer serious setbacks it could be a two-horse race for the title.