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Carrickfergus CC 1st XI claim League Title

After more than a hundred years in waiting, there was a certain amount of trepidation in the Carrickfergus camp at Laurelvale on Saturday. They knew they had the quality to over-power the mid-Ulstermen but having been so close to promotion in the past and knowing Laurelvale would fight proudly to avoid relegation, the Carrickfergus team were firmly focussed on the match in front of them. Batting first on what looked like a good track, Carrickfergus started off tentatively, slowly building a solid foundation for the innings. Ben Clements made a fairly rapid start but fell on 29, before he had really had a chance to kick on. By the drinks break Carrickfergus had amassed less than sixty runs but with the loss of just one wicket. The two Kiwis, Cooper and Singe, had had some time to get their eye in and, after the break, began to find their feet with some well-struck boundaries. The dismissal of Shane Singe for a well-crafted 53 saw the entrance of skipper, Ryan Eagleson. The fielding team were visibly lifted, however, when Coops followed soon after Shane, having contributed a gritty and arguably match-winning 74. The dismissal of Eagy for just 6 gave the bowlers further encouragement. With Nas at the crease, however, their enthusiasm was short-lived as, in a typically belligerent innings, he hit a quick-fire 26 which accelerated the scoring rate and seemed to take the match away from the home team. All credit to Laurelvale for their commitment to the end, stifling the Carrickfergus lower middle order and tail-end to limit Carrickfergus to a total of 220 for 8. With a determined Carrickfergus team in the field and an opening bowling attack the equal of anything the NCU has to offer, it was clear that Laurelvale would have to weather the storm and build a platform to stand any chance of pulling off a victory. With Eagy a man on a mission and Arbo, as ever, hitting his straps from the first ball, the signs were ominous for the batting team. Just two overs into his spell, however, Arbuthnot broke down with a groin strain, joining Michael McIlroy injured on the side-lines. Incidentally, it was unfortunate that Macker wasn't on the pitch on this historic day but Carrick's leading bowler over the last decade or so had already more than played his part in the Club’s success this season. Arbo's departure left a chink of light at one end for the Laurelvale batsmen. The Carrick change attack adapted well, however, and wickets soon began to tumble at a steady rate. By the drinks break, a home victory looked increasingly unlikely and after the break, the required run-rate continued to increase in the face of solid Carrick bowling. The Laurelvale tail-end showed some determined resistance but failed to trouble the scorers too much and in the end the home team fell for 117, giving Carrickfergus a famous victory and a first crack at Section One cricket. Vinay Sharma proved an able replacement for Macker with 2 for 36, David Hobson hoovered up the tail with 2 for 5 and the pick of the bowlers on the day, rounding off another good all-round performance was Nasir Khan.

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