Ballymena Fourth XI won the NCU Minor Qualifying Cup at Templepatrick Cricket Club on Saturday after comprehensively defeating Armagh 3rd XI, taking revenge for losing to the same side in last year’s final and winning a trophy that was last won by Ballymena CC in 1967.
The Ballymena side won the toss and elected to bat but the innings got off to a disastrous start with opener Stewart Watt finding himself bowled for a duck in the second over with only one run on the board.
This brought John Glass to the wicket and the 14 year old, together with Alastair Crease, proceeded to set about building a score in the 35 over final.
Progress in the early stages was slow as some accurate bowling in favourable conditions meant that the first run off the bat wasn’t scored until the 5th over. The pair persevered however, riding their luck at times, and the score began to grow.
The fifty partnership came up in the 11th over and the pair pushed on with the partnership reaching 100, seven overs later. Crease was the first to reach his fifty, before falling to a full-pitched ball from Dobbs to be bowled out for 57 from 81 balls with the score now on 130.
The experienced Jeff Martin joined Glass in the middle and the runs continued to accumulate at a good rate. John Glass reached his 50 in style with an impressive four, before offering up a simple catch next ball while trying unselfishly to accelerate. Glass’s mature innings ended, therefore, on 52 from 103 balls, with the score having progressed to 185.
Although Matthew Dick can consider himself unlucky to be given out LBW first ball, the momentum was not lost with Jack Archer then joining Martin in the middle and immediately looking to press on. The pair hit some quick runs with the innings ending with Archer clearing the sight screen for six to leave Armagh the task of scoring 210 runs to win.
If Ballymena’s batting was largely disciplined, their bowling was little short of exemplary.
In contrast to some wayward bowling from Armagh, who contributed a total of 50 wides, the young opening partnership of Owen Dick and Jonny Browne started strongly, with Dick claiming the first wicket, clean bowling McCarter in the fifth over, with the score on 16.
The introduction of Sam Glass into the attack then proved crucial to the outcome of the match. With a wicket off the first ball of each of his first two overs, Sam reduced the Armagh side to 48-3, including the vital wicket of the dangerous Williamson. Glass was ably supported by Jack Archer who always looked threatening and deservedly took two wickets for 23 runs in his seven overs. By the time Archer and Glass were finished, Armagh were 71-5 with only 12 overs remaining.
If the chasing side thought they were in for a reprieve with Sam Glass’s departure, they were much mistaken. Younger brother John Glass now took centre stage opening his 4 over spell with a wicket maiden, and following this up in his second over with a further two wickets, leaving the visitors reeling on 78-8.
The returning Jonny Browne took a deserved wicket in his fifth over and it was then left to the steady Adam Pogue to finish the innings off by bowling the last man, leaving Armagh all out for 118, thereby sealing an impressive 91 run victory for the Ballymena side.
The trophy was presented to the Ballymena skipper Alastair Crease by NCU President Billy Boyd, while the Man of the Match award went to John Glass for an outstanding all round performance.