Armagh won the toss on a sun-drenched mall and after electing to bat first, got off to a fast start through openers McCall and Dougan.
The first wicket fell in the 9th over when McCall was well caught and bowled by Ali having made 20.
This brought in form man Stuart Lester who, after getting off to a slow start, began to pick up regular boundaries as he and Dougan formed a strong partnership.
Armagh brought the 100 up in the 15th over and not long after Lester had another 50 to his name, caressing the ball to all parts of the mall.
Dougan too brought up a well deserved half century but was bowled for 56 shortly after with the score on 173 after 24 overs.
Sammy Wilson came to the crease for a short period of time before having to retire hurt, bringing the experienced Michael Hoey to the crease who scored quickly in an attempt to up the run rate towards the back end of the innings.
Lester was dismissed six short of what would have been a second 100 in consecutive games with his score of 94 containing five maximums and eight boundary fours.
Hoey and David Spratt joined together batting aggressively until the end with Armagh finishing on the large total of 267 for the loss of three wickets in 35 overs with Hoey blitzing a quickfire 45 not out and Spratt ending unbeaten on 16.
Ballymena knew they would have to get off to a quick start in order to stand any chance of competing with Armagh’s total and they did so through Frazer and Elder with opening bowlers Archer and Mackey going wicketless.
Ballymena had raced to 58 without loss after 9 overs before the spin duo of Michael Hoey and Jordan Wright were introduced.
Hoey first removed the dangerous Elder for 28 via a smart stumping by Spratt, before Wright removed Watt in the same fashion two overs later.
The spinners were keeping it tight and Armagh were restricting Ballymena to very few runs with good fielding.
Hoey and Wright then teamed up for the next wicket and Crease was caught by the latter on the square leg boundary.
Wright then struck twice in the next over to leave Ballymena in a precarious position at 82 for six after such a good start. Adam Marshall and skipper Barry Floyd were then introduced and Marshall struck in his third over proving too quick for the Ballymena batsman, Boyd then himself joined in on the act and it was only a matter of time before Armagh came out on top.
Although a last wicket partnership halted Armagh’s win Boyd soon struck to end with three wickets and Armagh comfortable winners by 130 runs.
(Armagh 267 for 3 – S Lester 94, W Dougan 56, M Hoey 45*, G Ali 2-44, D o ‘ Boyle 1-46 Ballymena 140 All out – H Boyd 3-16, J Wright 3-25, M Hoey 2-18)
Armagh Seconds beat Woodvale by 21 runs
Armagh’s Second game of the weekend saw them travel to Ballygomartin Road to take on Woodvale, where they again won the toss and elected to bat.
It was a watchful start for the Armagh openers McCall and Dougan, however Dougan whilst taking a quick single seemed to injure his hamstring and therefore had to retire injured.
This brought Andrew Hoey to the crease and after striking a nice four found the square leg fielder where he made no mistake, captain Boyd followed being trapped LBW leaving Armagh struggling at effectively 22 for three after eight overs.
With a partnership needed Michael Hoey and Stuart McCall provided a strong backbone to the Armagh innings with Hoey looking in fine touch.
With the 50-partnership brought up the pair attempted one quick single to many leaving Hoey run out for a valuable 26.
Gareth McCarter came in and straight away looked at ease against the Woodvale bowling.
McCarter alongside McCall took regular singles alongside the occasional boundary with McCall hitting a six over long on.
With McCall closing in on a well-deserved half century he misjudged the length of the delivery and was unfortunately bowled for a well made 44.
Local cricket correspondent Johnny Morton playing his first game of the season provided excellent support for McCarter towards the end of the innings, in an attempt to up the run rate Morton perished for 21, leaving McCarter to finish the innings off in fantastic style with a glorious six over extra cover to end unbeaten on 57 and give Armagh a defendable total of 210, something which didn’t look likely early on.
Woodvale’s openers knew the task at hand and they looked to be attacking from the on set, in particular the left hander Usman who smashed three fours and two sixes in his innings of 29.
He was the first to go via a smart slower ball from Morton which slowed down the Woodvale run rate.
With the pressure on and scoring slow, the Woodvale batsmen tried to take a single to Andy Hoey in the
covers who was on the spot to throw the stumps down leaving O’ Neil well short of his ground.
After a good opening spell from journalist Morton Michael Hoey was introduced into the attack and straight away from his line and length, keeping it tight and even having a very good shout for a stumping turned down by the watchful square leg umpire.
However it was opening bowler Ben Mackey who struck next for Armagh as he clean bowled Kahan in his last over for 20, Mackey bowling a great eight over spell straight through and deserved more than the one wicket he got.
Michael Hoey struck next as Burnside clipped his delivery straight into the willing hands of his brother Andrew.
Adam Marshall was introduced into the attack and after finding his line and length, struck twice in two overs leaving Woodvale struggling. Jordan Wright and Harry Boyd were brought on and Wright struck straight away via an excellent catch from Phil Rodgers in the deep.
After a wicketless period Johnny Morton was brought back on and delivered what seemed to be two killer
blows to Woodvale’s chances, capturing an LBW then and over later clean bowling Iqbal for 23, leaving a simple equation for Armagh, 30 runs required with one wicket required.
After easing a few singles, it was Captain Boyd who delivered the final blow with keeper McCarter taking a smart catch behind, leaving Armagh the victors by 21 runs and providing two wins throughout the weekend.
(Armagh 210 all out – G McCarter 57* S McCall 44 M Hoey 26, Hussein 3-56 Hamza 2-36 Woodvale 190 all out – Usman 29, J Morton 3-42 A Marshall 2-22).
Sign up for our weekly newsletter here.