An in-depth match by match look at how Ardmore won the Premiership title with wicket-keeper batsman Mark Chambers.

ARDMORE v NEWBUILDINGS – Won by 6 wickets

We had trained hard over the winter and when I met Rachit Gaur in January he asked what our goals were for the season. I thought a top eight finish would be our main aim, but he wanted and targeted the title. He’d seen where we had made a strong start in 2021 before falling away and felt the current squad had the quality and depth for a serious title challenge. 

We had players who could lay a platform and hitters down the order. The bowling attack had plenty of variety and was strong in the spin attack. The fielding could still improve and like most teams we carried one or two. However, we caught well and held onto most of the important ones throughout the season.

We started a week later than everyone else and also had another game postponed because of the Irish Senior Cup trip to Cork so we flew under the radar quite a bit. Our history too of never having won the Premier probably meant most clubs didn’t see us as title challengers which helped with no pressure in the early part of the season. 

Newbuildings came to the Green as champions and we wanted to hit the ground running with a statement win. We knew that their talisman Johnny Thompson was really struggling with a shoulder injury and that gave us a boost. They got off to a fast start but we pegged them back. We knew JT was the key wicket though and so it proved as we got him cheaply and kept them to 163.

I had a bit of a nightmare start as I conceded eight byes standing up to Conor Brolly early on but thankfully it got better after that with only 31 more in the next 20 matches. The chase was pretty routine with Dharm Singh breaking the back of it with a rapid 77. If he came off then the required rate rarely was an issue for the middle and lower order and so it proved as we coasted to the win.

ARDMORE v COLERAINE – won by 5 wickets

I had been given my chance permanently with the gloves last season and did okay. That meant the club were able to look for a spinning all-rounder than a keeper/batsman. We opted for Aviwe Mgijima who gave us a steady presence and was exceptional in the field, as well as being a friendly presence in what was a very harmonious dressing room.

We had been involved in the cups the rest of May so the next league game was Coleraine at home. Another factor for us this year was our home form, as we won seven out of seven. A huge part of that was the fact that the ground staff gave us grass wickets on the square to practice on, which we did at least two days a week. That gave us confidence for the Saturday’s as we knew the conditions so well.

Coleraine made 220, which given the speed of the outfield we felt was under par as it was in the middle of that hot, dry spell. Dharm again got us off to a fast start, and Avi had his best match with an unbeaten 85. We needed 25 off 23 balls when Rachit got out, but Avi with myself enured no jitters. We have seen this last few weeks with Brigade how quickly things can go awry in chases. Indeed, Avi said he was going to finish it in the penultimate over when we needed 12 as he didn’t want it going to the last over, which he did with a few boundaries.

St Johnston v Ardmore – won by 8 wickets

This was a real statement win as St Johnston can be a very tough place to get a result as Brigade found to their cost. It was one of our most emphatic displays of the season as Dharm and Avi got four wickets each to bowl them out for just 90. There was a bit of damp and rain about so we were happy

The chase was pretty straightforward as Harry Zimmermann got an unbeaten 40 in a second wicket stand with Rachit that saw us win by 8 wickets. Harry was steady throughout the year and part of a varied top order. I think that result showed that we were definitely going to be challenging as we moved into the top half of the table.

Bready v Ardmore – lost by 1 wicket

They were missing Irosh who had been in hospital, but we knew Davy Scanlon teams fight all the way. Matches between these sides have been close, nervy affairs in recent years, and this one was no different as Bready ended Ardmore's unbeaten Premiership record with a one-wicket last over win. 

The last pair of David Scanlon and Aaron Cooke needed 9 off 10 balls and managed to get them with the skipper finding the match winning boundary with the scores tied. It was a game that ebbed and flowed throughout with Ardmore skipper Rachit Gaur's injury meaning he could only manage 2.5 overs. With Harry Zimmermann also injured the Bleachgreen side's bowling stocks were depleted.

Edrees was trying for a Yorker to win it but just missed it and the five wides followed in the last over with a Sca boundary got them the points. The mood in the camp after was very down, but we knew it was only a bump in the road.

Ardmore v Ballyspallen – won by 9 wickets

We bounced back with a nine wicket win over Ballyspallen. Spin again was crucial with Aviwe Mgijima taking 4 for 13 and Caolan Young 3 for 2 as they made 91. Caolan started as a leg-spinner but a shoulder injury meant he now bowls offies. You can still hear the ball through the air as gets plenty of revs on it as well as turn. This was in the middle of a good run for him with wickets.

Rachit Gaur top-scored with an unbeaten 46 (8 fours), sharing an unbroken second wicket stand of 93 with Harry Zimmermann, who hit 45 not out as we coasted home in the 18th over. A maximum point win that got us firmly back on track.

Brigade v Ardmore – won by 1 wicket

This was I suppose a must-win game as they had hit the front and were in a good run of form on their way to a cup double. We needed 10 with the last pair at the wicket and Sabin and Caolan just got us over the line. They had a throw at the stumps with the scores level that just missed. The barest of margins and all that.

We needed 60 with four wickets left and wouldn’t expect normally to win from there, but Edrees announced himself that day with 42 off 21 balls and hit four sixes – three of them off Andy Britton. He is a very clean striker of the ball who can improve further. 

If we were down and out after Bready, this one was the complete reverse. The belief that this gave us was incredible. To beat a team like Brigade away gave the whole club a real boost.

Strabane v Ardmore – won by 5 wickets

This was another fairly solid display with early wickets seeing them make 143 – of which Nasir Nawaz hit 94. Conor Brolly got wickets with the ball swinging. When he gets it right and the conditions help he is a real asset, and can be unplayable at times. 

Surprisingly for an Ardmore team, with one or two exceptions, we chased pretty well and this was another relatively calm one as Harry and Rachit did well in the five wickets win.

ARDMORE v GLENDERMOTT – won by 63 runs

This was one of only two games to beat the weather that day and the win took us to the top of the table for the first time going into the second half of the season. It was cut to 22 overs and it was a really remarkable effort by the ground staff who worked hard to get it on.

Rachit Gaur and Harry Zimmermann again scored 50s and we were happy enough with our effort. They had a bit of a stand in the chase but the rate was climbing all the time. Once we got Gihahn Cloete they lost eight wickets for 12 runs and we got all 25 points again. 

Eglinton v Ardmore – lost by 6 wickets

We had lost in the cup here earlier in the year and here again we didn’t play well at all. We started well enough and were 70 for 2, but the run out of Rachit by Liam Doherty – a brilliant piece of fielding was the turning point. We collapsed to just 99 all out, lost by six wickets and with it the lead at the top. We weren’t out of it but this result gave the doubters more ammunition.

Rachit was pretty calm and composed all year, often keeping his head when others lost theirs. That was a huge factor – in past year we would have been arguing with each other but not this year. 

Ardmore v Bonds Glen – won by 3 wickets

This was one of those matches that makes you really think it could be your year. On paper it appeared an easy win but Heinrich Roberts and Davy Cooke batted well to get them to 159 in a 30 over game. They had lost early wickets and we probably switched off mentally a little. When we batted we were in real trouble at 73 for 6. Edrees hit a rapid 22 in just an over. That took the pressure off the required rate and allowed Sabin Babu and myself to go at our own pace and settle initially. Sabin put anything loose away and we put on 69 to win the match.

Everyone really celebrated that day and the mood was again buoyant after the previous day at Eglinton. Brigade and Bready were still probably favourites but we had kept ourselves right in contention. A loss here and that would have been it we felt.

Ardmore v Burndennett – won by 20 runs

Another game that looked easy on paper but my God, it was far from it. The weather again played a part but we were happy with our total of 213 for 6, Rachit again in the runs, with Harry, Avi and Ryan Brolly chipping in.

Niall McDonnell hadn’t read the script though and he batted as well as anyone did against us all year. A brilliant hundred that looked to be ending our title hopes. We kept cool though and chipped away at the other end. The rate crept up and Edrees bowled a super penultimate over getting Niall. Edrees was a real impact player this season and seemed to make things happen when we needed him. We also got a run out off the last ball that got us an additional point. There was always a feeling it could down to small margins. We were right!

Killyclooney v Ardmore – won by 7 wickets

Brigade’s loss against Newbuildings had put matters back in our own hands and we knew we were just three wins away from history. Blayde Capell had gone back home, and although we were missing our pro too, we got the better of the absences, We were right on it from the off and Edrees took five wickets as they made just 83. Ryan Brolly opened with Rachit to give us the left/right hander combination. While the result wasn’t in doubt we probably should have taken all 25 points.

Brigade weren’t playing on Saturday but went to St Johnston the next day. The Saints looked down and out and I stopped following it, but we saw they had rallied and there was soon a lot of interest in the chase. The tension built and built and they should build a statue for Nathan Cole with that last over.

All of a sudden, we are now definitely favouites for the title, the dynamic had switched and the pressure was very much on our shoulders. There was the little matter of Donemana next though. We knew it would be no gimmee.

Donemana v Ardmore – lost by 139 runs.

We didn’t do anything extra training wise, opting to keep the same routine that had served us so well. We deliberately kept the WhatsApp group as quiet as possible too although I’m sure was very excited and nervous. We were very aware of the weight of expectations on our shoulders, never having won it before in our history. We knew how much it meant to so many people in the community.

Then to the game itself and nothing went right. We probably brought a lot of it on ourselves when we won the toss and put them in. I didn’t realise we had done that until after the game. I thought it was definitely a case for bat first, get the runs on the board, and worst case scenario get some bonus points if we lose. Conditions were good and their main hitters came off. We knew it would be tough and we just were blown away.

They just know the ground so well, and aren’t afraid to hit the ball in the air knowing it will carry, whereas that can be alien to some teams. They are such a tough opponent and on their own ground with a full strength team are formidable.

The mood in the camp was very down after that, the feelings were very raw and the immediate thought was that we had blown it. However, when the dust settled we knew that Brigade had dropped a point and although it wouldn’t be easy, a 30-run or 5-wicket win at home to the Foxies would still be enough. The mood gradually improved and it was a quiet sense of determination in the last game.

Ardmore v Fox Lodge – won by 41 runs

D-Day. We felt in good spirits and with the early start there wasn’t much time to dwell on things in the morning. The first omens were good, and we batted first. Ryan and Rachit gave us a good platform and Dharm was in the runs too. A word for Rachit who delivered again as he passed 1000 runs with a century just at the right time. We love playing at home, know the field dimensions, where there’s always a two and where to target. 

We were happy with 229 and knew it wouldn’t be easy for them to get 200. The outfield was softish, and an end of season pitch certainly offered plenty of turn – Bap, Aaron Heywood and Gayan Maneehan had all got turn from it. We had a good start and I caught Gayan to leave them 26 for 2. We were always on edge given the enormity of the match, and weren’t helped when they rallied to 83 for 2. I did relax and felt we were well in control at 85 for 5 and 134 for 8. However, Jason Milligan was batting well and Adam Walker looked in little trouble with him as they edged closer and closer. Looking back now, I noticed we didn’t put in a slip or tried to squeeze Adam - maybe that was clouded thinking on our part, subconsciously relaxing thinking we had it won.

They then got closer and closer with a few chances going down – myself included – and when we conceded five wides they were 188 for 8 and looking as if they were going to deny us. Rachit though with his sense of calm told us to stay patient – one ball changes everything - and Edrees did just that with a great yorker. 

Just one wicket now to get but a lot of the main guys were bowled out and there was some debate who to give the ball to. We opted for Caolan as he had been bowling earlier. His first ball was skied to long on and when I looked up I was glad Harry was under it as he has probably the safest hands on the team.

Harry takes up the final moments himself:

“When it went up I was aware of midwicket running around, but I roared mine and he stopped. I settled under it and was aware just how silent the ground went for those few seconds. I opted for cupped hands to make sure rather than the normal Aussie reverse hands. It was never in doubt, went in cleanly and I just started running with my arms aloft. I was mobbed by everyone in seconds and there was just an outpouring of joy and relief.”


We certainly enjoyed the celebrations. The beer definitely tastes better when you win! It was a real pleasure to be in such a happy team. I know we have come in for criticism for having such a diverse line-up of cultures in the ranks but for me the strength of us came from having a truly bonded unit who brought their own experiences from all over the world. When you realise what Edrees went through to get to Ireland and the journey others have been on, you appreciate their sacrifices that little bit more.

Roll on next year!