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Armagh see off Academy despite difficult pitch conditions

Armagh opted to bat first despite the conditions

Armagh travelled to North Belfast to the picturesque Castle Grounds to take on Academy in an Gardiner Brothers League Section 1 fixture.

Despite the pitch looking underprepared due to the week’s difficult weather, Armagh still opted to bat first as it was unlikely to improve.

Batting proved difficult and it was only when Neil Gelston was joined by the in-form Michael Hoey that the visitors were able to form a partnership of any sort of substance.

Boundaries were hard to come by against tight bowling and with long grass in the outfield but the pair worked hard to bring up a half-century stand.

Gelston was dismissed just short of what would have been a deserved half century when he was bowled for 48.

Hoey was supported by Andrew Bratten well as the Armagh score approached 100 in tough conditions. With rain falling and getting heavier the players left the field and took tea early before resuming after over an hour was lost.

Armagh only had another five overs to bat to boost their score and managed to do so despite Hoey falling for a gritty 33.

Harry Doyle and Gareth McCarter added what they could in the last couple of overs as Armagh finished on 122-7, a score that was boosted to 135 by the DL calculation to take into account the overs lost to Armagh when batting.

The visitors took the field hoping to put up a stern defence of what should be a testing total but no-one could have predicted the carnage that would ensue as the hapless Academy batting lineup was dismissed in only 12 overs.

Ben Mackey got the ball rolling with a successful lbw appeal before Bratten took a sensational low diving catch to dismiss Academy captain Magee off Jarred Barnes.

Alan Whitcroft took the crucial scalp of the Academy local South African Bradley Parry whose aggression and frustration got the better of him and his massive top edge was safely claimed by McCarter.

It was all about the pace, control and skill of Barnes after that as he claimed wonderful figures of 5-12 with no Academy player able to withstand the brilliant bowling.

Whitcroft claimed equally remarkable figures of 3 wickets for only 3 runs while Hoey completed a good day with a run out as Academy finished on 27, giving Armagh a 108 run victory that might have seemed unlikely at the interval.

Armagh captain Matthew Steenson was understandably delighted with what his team had given him in tricky conditions.

“We had to fight hard with the bat and Gelston, Hoey and Bratten did that,” said Steenson.

“We got a score of sorts on the board and what a way to defend it. The big man Barnes was sensational and Whitcroft showed us all his tricks.

“A great effort from the team because we didn’t take our eye off the ball even with Sundays trophy final on our minds.”

This weekend armagh have a league double header as they host Cliftonville on Saturday at noon then Downpatrick on Sunday starting at 1pm.

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