Ballymena’s U-15 XI has progressed to the quarter-finals of the prestigious Graham Cup after defeating Donaghcloney by 77 runs last Friday night.
Batting first, John Glass and James McClean – both of whom have become 1st XI regulars – gave Ballymena a solid platform, first being watchful against some accurate bowling before cutting loose after the first few overs.
The score was 38 in the eighth over when a firmly struck drive by Glass was deflected into the non-striker’s stumps by the bowler, thereby cruelly running out McClean for a well made 25 from 26 balls, which included two fours and one six.
Glass then set about destroying the home bowlers.
Supported by Johnny Browne and Harry Bill, he struck thirteen boundaries and two maximums on his way to 86 from only 51 balls before being caught at cover in the nineteenth over. Ballymena finished their twenty overs on 147-6.
Although Donaghcloney did not lose early wickets in their chase, accurate bowling from Glass and Brown ramped up the run rate before left-arm spinner Matt Smith destroyed the County Armagh side’s top order with the remarkable figures of 6 for 9.
Bowling with excellent flight and control, Smith clean bowled three batsmen, had two more caught in the covers, and trapped another lbw as Donaghcloney collapsed to 36-8.
The other wicket-taker was Calvin Purse, younger brother of 1st XI seamer Matthew, while Jonny Hunter and Callum Black both performed well when called upon.
Donaghcloney were eventually dismissed for 70. Ballymena will travel to either Dundrum or Templepatrick in the quarter-final, which is due to be played before 5 June.
Several of the Ballymena Graham Cup team are likely to be involved as the Eaton Park First XI resumes its Premier League campaign this Saturday with a trip to Instonians. The Second XI travel to Waringstown III in the Intermediate Cup.