Larne Cricket club 1st XI got their league campaign under way at a blustery Sandy Bay against Monaghan.
The visitors won the toss and had no hesitation batting first on what looked to be an excellent pitch. Aaron McKinley made the initial breakthrough when he got one to swing late away from the opening batsman to knock over his off stump. He then followed this up with an in-swinging yorker to remove the other opener. Charlie Cloke was rewarded in his sixth over when he cleaned up the Monaghan number three before Jack Mitchell picked up two wickets - one bowled and the other plumb LBW.
At 50 for 5, Larne went for spin with skipper Gaw and 16-year-old leg spinner Campbell introduced. Gaw took one wicket, courtesy of a catch at square leg by Campbell. At the other end Mitchell finished with two wickets.
Campbell returned to bowl the last over and was rewarded with his third victim of the innings with Monaghan totalling of 133-9.
Michael Kennedy and Chris Dempsey got the home side off to a solid start with a partnership of 40. Kennedy was undone by an absolute gem of a delivery from Monaghan skipper for 10. Kennedy’s dismissal brought Chirs Keenan to the crease, but he was deceived early in his innings to leave the home side at 41-2.
Dempsey was joined by Cloke and the pair shared a partnership of 92, with Dempsey showing a vast array of shots in his near faultless 76, which included two mighty sixes. Cloke finished on 20 not-out, pushing his case for genuine all-rounder status. Dempsey didn’t finish with the not-out he deserved and was caught behind for a match-winning innings of 76 with just one run needed. A wide delivery brought the game to a close with Larne winning by 7 wickets with 12 overs still to play.
After the game, Larne captain Gaw said he was delighted with how well the young bowling attack stuck to their task, and with the batting performances of Dempsey and Cloke.
Monaghan 133-9, J. Campbell 3-32, A. McKinley 2-18, J. Mitchell 2-35
Larne 134-3, C. Dempsey 76, C. Cloke 20 n.o
Larne host Newforge in the Junior Cup this Saturday.