Updated: May 18
After two defeats to new opponents, Maghera welcomed familiar foes in Ballyspallen Seconds on Saturday for a home match in glorious late Spring sunny weather. With the pitch in great shape and the boundaries set shorter than usual in the absence of the Club Captain, it was set to be a great day for the batters. It was also an important day for Maghera CC and Jamie Reid who was making his debut for the firsts; hoping to replicate his fine bowling and batting performances in the practice nets.
With the coin toss duly lost, Ballyspallen took the option to open the batting. Without our standard opening bowler Alfie Stewart, John Semple was promoted to open the bowling alongside his Dad, Mark. Indeed, both opening bowlers combined to give John a wicket off his very first ball in the second over, with Mark taking an easy catch at point. Despite some very good batting conditions, Ballyspallen only managed 29 runs in the 8 powerplay overs with John deservingly claiming another wicket in the 8th over, trapping young Bond leg before wicket.
Our match Captain Aaron Stewart then replaced Mark Semple and within 3 overs of his spell had removed the dangerous Graham Thompson who had made a disciplined score of 30. That brought Ballyspallen Captain Daniel Guy to the wicket who set about consolidating the innings with his young batting partner McElhinney by combining a mixture of robust defence and powerful hitting. It was to be over 100 runs and 20 overs later before Maghera would claim another wicket, with the venerable Steve Pratt finally removing McElhinney for 42 excellent runs, his joint highest score and the number of his jersey. A fine return for an excellent young Ballyspallen batter. Aaron Stewart then soon had Daniel Guy caught and bowled by clever slower bowling, but not before the Ballyspallen captain had scored his maiden half century.
Once this big partnership was removed, Maghera quickly collected the rest of the Ballyspallen wickets with Aaron taking 3 wickets and Scott Dougherty building on his impressive opening season by claiming four wickets and bagging the day’s best bowling performance of 28 for 4. In credit to Ballyspallen, although they were all out, they took it all the way to the last over. The total score of 167 looked a little short given the conditions but seemed enough to provide a stern test of Maghera’s resolve and batting ability.
Maghera outdone themselves with the innings tea break by providing a sumptuous meal of hot dogs, sandwiches, buns and biscuits. Some of the more seasoned Maghera players noted that losing the toss might not have been a bad thing, as fielding last would have been difficult judging at the amount of food consumed by its players!!
With such batting power in the lineup, the Captain reminded all of the players that the runs will come naturally and to play with the grit and application to knock off 167 runs. The feast of a lunch did not deter Ballyspallen’s opening bowler, Derek Corscadden, who is renowned as one of the league’s best bowlers. He bowled with his usual discipline, constantly challenging Maghera’s opening batters early on. However, with the batting line up responding to its Captain’s instructions, the runs came at a good but sensible pace and the foundation was set for victory.
In total Maghera lost four wickets. Scott Doherty was first to fall to a tight LBW decision after hitting a few boundaries. Sean Bentley and Aaron Stewart combined for a partnership of 84 runs before Sean was undone for 31 excellent runs, by a replacement ball that swung prodigiously, surprising bowler and batter in equal measure. Aaron followed soon after for the highest Maghera score of 48, being caught going for what looked his third six. At that stage the top order had done its job and a brisk partnership between Graham Love and John Semple accelerated the score before Steve Pratt came out to join Graham to see Maghera home by 6 wickets. Graham finished the day on a very fine 33 runs not out, with 20 of them coming in boundaries.
This completed a very fine performance by Maghera, and it was a welcome return to winning ways after a difficult start to the season. As usual credit must be given to Ballyspallen who as always ensure their young players all play an active role to prepare them for a career in their firsts team who play at Senior Level.
Finally a big shout out to Keri, Dearbhaile and their team, for organising a great lunch whilst simultaneously keeping an eye on all the toddlers enjoying themselves in the Sun. Also thank you to Dearbhaile and Michael Reid for taking some brilliant photos.
Written By Mark Semple