Armagh crumbled to a heavy defeat against a clinical Cregagh side at Gibson Park on Saturday with the depleted city side losing by the hefty margin of 9 wickets. Armagh captain Gareth McCarter won the toss and elected to bat first taking into account the uncomfortably hot weather and the hardness of the batting surface but unfortunately his decision somewhat backfired as Armagh’s innings never really got going. Only four Armagh players made it into double figures as the Cregagh bowlers dominated throughout, first talented youngster S.Nelsonwho took three early scalps then at the other end of the age scale, former Glamorgan first class cricketer Rodney Ontongtook 5 wickets as he decimated the Armagh middle order with his mastery of spin bowling. Best for Armagh with the bat was Matthew Steenson with a fluent 34 but his dismissal to Ontongsparked the procession that followed. Andrew Smyth and Matthew Wright batted capably to take Armagh beyond the 100 mark but it all ended quickly when last man Jordan Wright was well caught and bowled by Hassard to end the Armagh innings at 108.
If they were to have any chance of claiming an unlikely win Armagh needed to start well and claim a couple of early wickets but while Smyth and Matthew Wright were difficult to score off the wicket proved impossible to find as the Cregagh pair mixed good judgement with good fortune to score well as the overs advanced. Wright in particular was unfortunate while beating the bat on several occasions but had absolutely no luck at all as he completed a wonderful ten over spell. Stuart Lester and Jordan Wright looked unsuccessfully for a breakthrough but it would be Andrew Walbran who would find it when he removed Moore lbw for 45. The end was near though as Cregagh cantered to what was a stunning 9 wicket victory for them with youngster Johnston finishing 28 not out in a decent effort. For Armagh it was another disappointing performance with bat, ball and in the field.
Ulster Bank Division 1 Section 2, Cregagh v Armagh
Armagh 108 all out. M.Steenson 34. R.Ontong 5-31, S.Nelson3-45
Cregagh 112-1. L.Moore 45
Cregagh won by 9 wickets.
After the game, Armagh captain Gareth McCarter was understandably disappointed by the teams performance and the manner of defeat. “It would be easy to make excuses about the number of players we are missing and of course that is a major factor but we certainly had more quality than we showed today. We struggled against the high-class spin of Ontong as so many teams do. I thought Matthew Steenson was batting beautifully before getting out and Matthew Wright was terrific with the ball and we sadly let him down in the field. Our problems certainly aren’t down to a lack of effort and we will do everything we can to turn it around in the upcoming weeks.”
Armagh will hope to turn their form around next Saturday with the visit of T2O Champions Millpark to the Mall. The previous fixture against the Gilford side saw a wonderful Armagh performance and win and they will be hoping for a repeat performance against tough opponents this weekend. The game at the Mall starts at noon.