Larne Cricket Club have the NCU Section 3 title in their sights after a weekend double-header against Cregagh and Dungannon.
One more victory should secure the championship and it could be all done and dusted this Saturday (August 18) when they host Victoria at Sandy Bay. Last Saturday, Gareth Gaw’s men took on Cregagh, who are the nearest challengers for the NCU League Section 3 honours. Larne won the toss and elected to bowl.
Openers Richard Hood and Paul Ramsay had differing fortunes with Hood struggling to find his line and length, while the ever-dependable Ramsay was very efficient and was unlucky not to take more than his one wicket.
Chris Dempsey replaced Hood but he too struggled as the Cregagh batsmen began to score freely. However, Larne fought back with a tight spell from Gaw, supported by Darren Stanton, and Dean Hodge, who took three wickets.
Despite their success, they could not get rid of the Cregagh number 3, Simpson, who was compiling a match-winning innings. Hood came back and had a much better spell, finishing with three wickets including Simpson who was finally out, bowled, for 76.
Gaw returned to the attack to bowl the last over of the innings and took two wickets, including a great caught a bowled. Cregagh ended their innings on 194 all-out.
The Larne players were confident they could chase down the target at almost four runs per over. Once again however, the batting let down the local lads as only 4 players managed to get into double figures. Indeed the scorebook tells the story with the 28 extras being the top scorer!
Wickets fell at regular intervals with Hazard being the pick of the Cregagh bowlers taking 7 wickets for just 27 runs. Allister Moore Welding and Engineering Supplies Limited kindly sponsored the match ball.
Cregagh 194 all out (R Hood 3-42; D Hodge 3-44; G Gaw 2-25)
Larne 115 all out (C Dempsey 23)
On Sunday the Firsts travelled to Dungannon hoping to put Saturday’s disappointment behind them and get back to winning ways. In a match that had already been reduced to 20 overs per side, Dungannon chose to bat first in the overcast and damp conditions.
they made a good start with Richard Hood and Dean Hodge bowling a tight-line. As the overs ticked by, Dungannon began to push their score on by scoring heavily off each over.
Larne used six bowlers, with Aaron McKinley, Chris Dempsey, Gareth Gaw and Darren Stanton all doing their best to stem the scoring.
Twenty-over cricket is fast and furious with little time allowed to think about what you are doing. With the overs flying past, Dungannon were going at over six an over and finished their 20 overs with a very impressive score of 138 for the loss of four wickets.
Larne knew it was all or nothing as they set about chasing down the runs they needed to win. They opened their innings with the father-and-son partnership of Trevor and Chris Dempsey who put on 45 for the first wicket.
When Chris was out, bowled, for 29, Trevor was next to fall when he was caught for 28. Richard Hood hit a quickfire 10 before being stumped, and this brought Dean Hodge and Gareth Gaw together at the crease. The pair set about the Dungannon bowling to take Larne to within touching distance of an impressive victory.
When Hodge was caught on 26, Larne still needed 15 runs to win off the final over it looked as though it was going to be another disappointing day. However, ‘cometh the hour, cometh the man’ and it was fitting that Larne Captain; Gareth Gaw hit the winning runs with just two balls to spare. The weekend results leaves Larne at the top of NCU Section 3, four points clear, with just two matches left to play. The match ball was kindly sponsored by A Liddle & Son.
Dungannon 138 (C Dempsey 2-37; D Hodge 1-25)
Larne 140 – 4 (C Dempsey 29; T Dempsey 28; D Hodge 26; G Gaw 25*)