Keenan helps Larne make it six on the spin

Gareth Gaw bowling for Larne at Sandy Bay against Donaghadee  INLT 28-208-AM
Gareth Gaw bowling for Larne at Sandy Bay against Donaghadee INLT 28-208-AM

Larne 1st XI made it six wins in a row on Saturday with victory over Donaghadee at Sandy Bay.

With skipper Chris Dempsey out with a broken finger, Jonny Baxter took over but lost the toss and Donaghadee had no hesitation in batting on an excellent pitch.

However, Larne produced probably their best bowling performance of the season to dismiss them for just 91 in 31 overs.

Darren King was playing his first game of the campaign but looked like he had never been away and dismissed both openers – Darren Stanton taking a fine nick behind the stumps and Baxter taking a very sharp catch at slip.

Regular opening bowler Aaron McKinley kept his fine form going as he then took two wickets; Stanton taking both the catches - one a reflex one-handed effort, and the other when he made good ground to collect a top-edged hook shot.

Gareth Gaw replaced McKinley and when he struck first ball with a clear lbw position and took a sharp caught-and-bowled in his second over, the visitors were reduced to 41-6 and a very early finish looked likely.

There followed a bit of resistance as the next batsmen dug in and took the score past 80 but as soon as the breakthrough was made the rest followed and they were all out for just 91.

Gareth Alexander had produced a very probing spell of swing bowling with little reward but he finally struck with the penultimate ball of his eight overs, Stanton capping off a superb performance by taking his fourth catch.

It was left to the skipper, Baxter, to mop up the final three wickets and he conceded just three runs in the process.

The run-chase appeared that it would be a formality but perhaps some complacency set in and Larne were soon on very shaky ground as they were reduced to 30-4. Baxter struck three lovely boundaries but a loose shot saw him bowled for 14 while Alexander made just four and Gaw and Cameron Ruys failed to trouble the scorers.

Donaghadee were now buoyant but the in-form Chris Keenan was still at the crease and he guided Larne to a comfortable victory in the end. He watchfully played off the opening bowlers while still punishing any loose deliveries and then set about the change bowlers and in the blink of an eye the game was over and he had finished unbeaten on 53. His innings included seven fours and two big sixes.

Phil Mawhinney proved the perfect foil, playing sensibly and giving Keenan the strike and he was unbeaten on seven at the end and has still to be dismissed this season.

Larne have no game this weekend but the following Saturday they travel to Dunmurry looking to keep the momentum going at the top of the league. Donaghadee 91 (J Baxter 3-3); Larne 93-4 (C Keenan 53 not-out).