ARMAGH travelled to the Seapark Oval to take on league leaders Holywood on Saturday cheered by the previous weekend’s success against Academy and hoping for more of the same.
Although Saturday was a slightly more overcast and cool day, Holywood were still quick to bat first on a hard pitch after they won the toss. Armagh struck first with Harry Doyle finding the edge of Kerrigan’s bat through to Gareth McCarter who made no mistake.
Andrew Smyth was back in the Armagh side after his trip to Australia and was bowling with great pace and bounce but without the success he deserved although the second wicket came when he smartly deflected a straight drive onto the stumps to run out Duddy at the non-strikers end.
Holywood looked to rebuild through Mall centurion Philip McCormick and their captain Chris Hayes although the latter certainly had luck on his side before scoring when he edged Doyle through to McCarter but wasn’t given by the umpire and opted against walking. Shook by this setback, Armagh lost a little focus and the batting pair steadied the ship, punishing any bad deliveries and running well between the wickets. Armagh’s change pair of Stuart Lester and Andrew Walbran brought the game back a little after they had went for a few runs and although the batting pair passed their century partnership the stand was broken at 122-3 whenever McCormick was bowled by Walbran.
With the partnership broken Armagh were able to find some opportunities and Lester found a deserved reward in his final over when Turkington was well caught behind by McCarter. Armagh’s rotation bowlers Matthew Brownlee and Michael Hoey both had successes in their first over when edges from Anderson and Belford were both caught behind by McCarter.
Hoey in particular was looking very dangerous and he ended the charmed life enjoyed by Hayes when yet another slog was caught by Lester. Holywood’s captain scored 67 valuable runs although probably shouldn’t have been there to do so after edging behind, being dropped and surviving several good shouts for lbw.Hoey’s success continued when he had Maxwell sharply stumped by McCarter and then bowled Maxwell to give him sensational figures of 4 wickets for ten runs. After a spirited last wicket stand, Harry Doyle returned to finish the job for Armagh, having Murray caught behind for his second wicket and giving Gareth McCarter six dismissals behind the stumps.
Holywood’s final total of 190 was competitive but certainly should have been more but for a wonderful fightback from the Armagh bowlers and fielders.
The target of 191 to win shouldn’t have been beyond Armagh but the batting performance in response was not to the standard required with some poor judgements and bad shot selection combining with perhaps a lack of luck on occasions as Armagh were unable to build any partnerships or scores amongst the top order and below.
To their credit Holywood bowled well led by Philip McCormick who claimed 4-35 from his spell, putting the ball consistently in good areas and forcing the Armagh batting into their mistakes as did his colleagues. Extras top-scored for Armagh and only four batsmen made it into double figures with debutant Adam Marshall scoring 14 and Matthew Brownlee ending unbeaten on 17 as Armagh were bowled out for 114 to lose by the convincing margin of 76 runs.
Armagh captain Gareth McCarter was understandably disappointed at the end of the game with the manner of his teams capitulation. “We had done an amazing job to rein in Holywood’s batting after their big partnership and to bowl them out for 190 on a pitch like that was a decent effort, well done to Michael Hoey on taking 4-10 in his short spell, it felt right to bring him on and it worked perfectly. Unfortunately with the bat we undid our good work, playing rash shots and being beaten for pace.
“Some of the boys lower in the batting order showed that it could be done when they played sensibly but by then the game was as good as over. To give Holywood credit they are top of the league for a reason and have some good players with the bat and ball. We spoke on the journey up about the topical debate about walking when a batsman edges it and unfortunately we have been on the wrong end of another costly bad decision. We are disappointed but we will have to move on and do better next weekend at Cregagh.”
Next weekend Armagh are on the road again with a tricky trip to Cregagh to face the hosts at Gibson Park. The teams have already met twice this season with Armagh winning well in the league but Cregagh striking back with a strong showing in the Junior Cup tie.
Armagh will want to come back with a win to stretch the gap between themselves and the bottom of the table. The game at Gibson Park starts at Noon.
Holywood v Armagh at Seapark 13/07/2013.
Holywood 190 all out. C.Hayes 67, P.McCormick 34. M.Hoey 4-10.
Armagh 114 all out. P.McCormick 4-35.
Holywood win by 76 runs.