There was a collective sigh of relief on Saturday as a difficult season came to an end for Larne Cricket Club, who are sponsored by the Curran Court Hotel. Unfortunately, it was a disappointing finish as they went down to a heavy nine-wicket defeat at Armagh.
Once again, skipper Gareth Gaw had to take a very inexperienced team to play a strong Armagh outfit, and his team were delighted when he won the toss and elected bat first. Dean McDonagh was promoted to open the batting with Gareth Alexander and was the first to go when a ball cut through his defences to bowl him for three. Timmy Evans was next in and hit three sweet boundaries before slashing at a wide one and when Gaw and Gary Moore soon follwed Larne were struggling on 67-4.
Alexander, meanwhile, was in excellent form and striking the ball beautifully and was hoping for some support at the other end and he received this from the evergreen Esler Burke as the pair put on 61 runs in 15 overs. Burke gave the other young lads in the team a lesson in how to defend his wicket and pick up runs were available and with Alexander finding the boundary at the other end Larne reached 128 after 30 overs and were looking good to make a competitive total. However, when Alexander was bowled for 44 and Burke followed for 15 Larne collapsed to 158 all out and didn’t use 12 of their 50 overs, with only Richard Hood offering any resistance in scoring 14 before being last man out.
It was to be a total that Armagh would reach with ease as a powerful top three batsmen lost just one wicket in getting their in 32 overs. The last wicket to fall went to Richard Hood who again bowled excellently a deserved more than his stunning caught-and-bowled effort. It was day that summed up his season as he bowled with great control and created chances every week but never had any luck and didn’t get anywhere near the number of wickets he deserved.
Gaw and Alexander both bowled good spells and on another day could have had a couple of wickets each, while young David Hayes and Richard Brunt both got some more valuable experience of bowling at this level.
The defeat means that Larne finish the season with just four wins in the league and now need to wait on other results and a possible restructuring of the leagues before knowing what league they will be playing in next season.
The match ball was kindly sponsored by Swan Conservatories.
Larne 158 (G Alexander 44)
Armagh 159-1 (R Hood 1-41)