Waringstown continued their progress on two fronts at the weekend after beating Ballymena in the league and Strabane in the Ulster Cup.
The villagers, without injured James Hall, travelled with a degree of trepidation to Eaton Park on Saturday. They have lost on three of their previous four visitors to the ground, but there never looked likely to be a repeat.
Ballymena won what should have been a good toss, but they were in trouble from the start.
Azeem Ghumman and Steve Lazars represented their best chance of a defendable total, but when they fell for a total of 11 runs between them to Gary Kidd and Kyle McCallan, the writing was on the wall.
James Kennedy, the captain, top scored with 30 before he was bowled by Phil Eaglestone (3-30), and Ballymena were dismissed for just 105 in 43.5 overs.
Waringstown could afford to lose two early wickets and still stroll to victory.
James McCollum, the opening batsman, struck a second successive half-century with an unbeaten 51 from only 52 balls. including seven boundaries.
Lee Nelson, the captain, was unbeaten on 29 with four fours.
Waringstown were similarly dominant the following day at Strabane Park, even though they used the game to give opportunities to younger players.
Kyle McCallan didn’t make the trip and professional Ruhan Pretorius didn’t bowl, but still Waringstown restricted the home side to
Morgan Topping, the young spinner, removed Ryan Gallagher and Tawanda Mupariwa, as Strabane made 174 for nine batting first.
The villagers lost at this venue in last year’s final but there was no repeat as the in-form McCollum and Adam Dennison raced to 138 without loss.
Dennison was unluckily run out at the non-striker’s end. He had made 63 from 65 balls and struck four fours and two sixes.
The result was long since not in doubt with the formalities completed by the 27th over. McCollum finished unbeaten on 91 from only 72 balls, including 12 fours and a six. Ruhan Pretorius, who wasn’t used with the ball, struck four boundaries in an unbeaten 22.
Waringstown seconds took a significant step towards ending their long drought in the Junior Cup.
They secured a semi-final tie at home to Civil Service North after a hard-fought victory over Drumaness on Saturday.
Alan Waite’s team were in trouble when they batted first as five wickets went down relatively early but the recovery was largely down to young guns Ross Waite and Aaron Wright.
Waite struck a typically pugnacious 44 while Wright fought hard to reach 37. With Jonathan Waite contributing 21, Waringstown recovered to reach 179.
In reply Drumaness were going well early on but Waringstown gradually chipped away at their batting order.
Stuart Kidd was once again superb, taking three for 30. Wright contributed a vital two for 14 with spinner Andrew Magennis taking tw o for 25 as the home side were dismissed for 156.
Waringstown face CSNI in the semi-finals on July 18.
On Sunday Waringstown held their nerve to beat Donemana in the Ulster Plate at The Holm.
Batting first, the villagers posted 185 for eight, with Wright top scoring with 64 and Ross Waite adding 32. That total was probably only about par but Waringstown did themselves proud against a home side that included twins Junior and James McBrine, Richie McBrine and former Ireland international Dwayne McGerrigle.
Kidd, who has been an inspiration since returning from Australia, took two for 25 and Alan Harrison two for 17.
Donemana came out firing, reaching 100 in little more than 15 overs but Waringstown fought back and Donemana were eventually all out for 159 . Harrison took the winning catch on the boundary.
The ball sponsor for the CSNI game is Ken Boyes.