Larne make up for dropped chances

Larne First XI, who are sponsored by the Curran Court Hotel, got back to league action on Saturday and kept their good run going with a hard-fought six-wicket victory over Dungannon at Sandy Bay.

Skipper Gareth Gaw won the toss and chose to bowl first, in keeping with the other matches played this season.

There was no immediate joy for the Larne bowlers as the visiting openers began well in putting on 46 for the first wicket. The batsmen were beginning to look very comfortable until Robert McKinley dismissed Forsythe, thanks to a sharp catch at gully by Chris Dempsey.

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From here, Larne began to slow the scoring rate as Dempsey and Gaw bowled a tight 10 overs, but things began to get a bit ragged and Larne allowed the run rate to climb as Dungannon reached 113-1 after 30 overs.

Gaw bowled beautifully and but for some shoddy fielding could have had a bagful of wickets, but at least four chances were spilled and he finished with 2-25.

One of Gaw’s victims was Adrain, who was going well on 57 before Gareth Alexander took a juggling catch to dismiss him and he soon followed this up with a more straightforward catch in the deep as Paul Ramsay struck during a 10-over spell which cost just 28 runs.

Jonathan King returned to the attack and struck twice in two balls as he and McKinley bowled an excellent last six overs to limit the visitors to184, when a total in excess of 200 looked inevitable.

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On such a good pitch and fast outfield Larne were happy to chase anything under 200, but this was by far their most disappointing performance in the field this season. The bowling was mostly steady, but the fielding and especially the catching were particularly poor and should have been punished much more heavily.

The Larne reply couldn’t have began much worse as they slumped to 30-3 after 10 overs, but there were few alarms after this as the lost just one more wicket on their way to 185.

The hero of the day was Eddie Hunter, who played his best innings for the team to finish unbeaten on 67. He drove the ball beautifully through the covers and down the ground and his innings included deven boundaries and a six.

Hunter’s first major support came from Robert McKinley, who batted very sensibly for 38 to help swing the game back in Larne’s favour. He was picking off runs and dispatching any loose deliveries to the boundary and was disappointed to be bowled when he looked to be in control.

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Replacement Trevor Dempsey’s unbeaten 39 helped see Larne home. He sensibly took a couple of overs to get settled as Larne required 40 runs off the last eight overs, but he soon took charge and a flurry of boundaries saw Larne win with almost four overs to spare.

This represented a good recovery to chase down a decent total after losing early wickets and will give everyone more confidence as the season progresses. There is plenty to improve upon but the team is playing well and has now won three of the first four league games. The match ball was kindly sponsored by The Ardella.

Dungannon 184-7 (G Gaw 2-25, J King 2-32)

Larne 185-4 (E Hunter 67no, T Dempsey 39no, R McKinley 38)

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