CRUCIAL WEEKEND AHEAD FOR DONEMANA

It’s been a tough few weeks for the Donemana club, and back-to-back defeats at the weekend has put a serious dent in their trophy quest. They were missing a few regulars as they suffered a shock loss at Eglinton in the Premier league and 24 hours later went out of the Irish Senior Cup at North Down.

Andy McBrine’s battling half century gave the Holm men hope at Comber, but South African overseas professional Ruhan Pretorius proved their nemesis as he followed up his four wickets to make an undefeated 90 to clinch a five-wicket win.

There’s little time for Donemana to lick their wounds as they take on fierce rivals Brigade in both the league and senior cup this weekend. They meet first in the Premiership at Beechgrove, with Brigade sitting top of the table after their impressive start to the season. Although the new season is only five weeks old, you get the feeling that a loss for Donemana would make it very difficult for them to make up in the eight-team league.

It’s sure to be a wonderful atmosphere at Donemana on Sunday when the sides renew battle. There’s no doubting that in recent years the cup has brought out the best in the Tyrone side, winning it six years in succession before their quest for a magnificent seven was ended last year at the semi-final stage by a superb Brigade batting display.

Trophy success is in the DNA at Donemana, and backed by the home support, it may be enough for them to get their season back on track. If they can get their full strength side out, it will be two epic clashes between the NW heavyweights. No doubt we will have a better idea of the destiny of the two major domestic trophies after the weekend.

BURNDENNETT CONTINUE TO SET THE PACE

Burndennett are the early pacesetters in the Championship, making it four wins on the bounce, closely followed by Ardmore after both teams won their rearranged games on Sunday.

Salman Ahmed's fine start to the campaign continued as he top scored hitting 4 sixes and fours in his 71, helping Burndennett to post 232 for 9 in a rain-interrupted innings at home to St Johnston. He was well supported by Ross McCay (30) and by experienced duo Stephen McCay and Mark Roulston, who both scored 37. Ian MacBeth took three wickets, while there were two apiece for David Anthony, Scott Devenney and Nathan Cole.

Further rain saw St Johnston needing 227 from 41 overs - DLS not really in their favour this time. Nathan Cole hit 61, David Anthony 43 and Michael Rankin 39 in a battling effort, but they fell 18 runs short on 209 for 8.

Ardmore stay on their tails after they beat St Johnston on Sunday also, while it was a good weekend for both Killyclooney and Fox Lodge who recorded emphatic wins. It’s shaping up to be quite a competitive promotion race, and there are sure to be plenty of twists and turns as the season progresses.

STRABANE SAINTS WIN BUT BREADY BEATEN IN WOMEN’S LEAGUE

Bready suffered a surprise 10-run loss at Eglinton in one of the two game swhich went ahead in the Women’s League on Monday night. The hosts scored what looked a modest 82 for 4 in their 20 overs, with Arianna McKenna (31) and Zara Craig (26*) among the runs. Vanessa Buchanan (2-18)

Bready started the reply well, but Kia McCartney’s 2 for 11 off her four overs proved crucial as the Magheramason side fell short.

Strabane Saints ran out convincing winners at Killyclooney in a game reduced to 16 overs a side. Codi Wallace hit a run-a-ball 30, while Rachel McBrine (18*) and Amber Nicholl (14*) added ate runs as Killyclooney scored 79 for 3 – two wickets for Denise McDonald and one for Megan Moorehead.

Emma Doherty and Hazel Magee fell early in the chase, but an unbeaten 34 from Anji McPorter guided the Strabane Saints to an eight-wicket win. The left-hander hit four fours and a six, sharing a stand of 72 for the third wicket with Una Patton, who made 20.

The victory is the Saints’ second of the campaign and they are sure to be in the shake up for honours along with fellow Tyrone sides Burndennett, Fox Lodge and Bready.

RAIN RUINS EMERGING WARRIORS INTERPROS

There was disappointment earlier this week as only 14 overs were possible in the scheduled two games between the Emerging Warriors and their NCU counterparts at Muckamore. There was a strong representation form Tyrone in the squad, with Strabane’s Aaron Gillespie named skipper. Also included were Rhys Logue, Aidan Logue, William Finlay, Conor Olphert, Ali Doherty, Conor Graham and Gregory McFaul.

In the 14 overs that were played on Tuesday, the Knights reached 45 for 1, with Bready’s McFaul claiming the wicket that fell. Wednesday’s game was called off following the heavy rain in the Mid-Antrim area. The teams are due to meet again later this summer in two more games at Ardmore.

AROUND THE GROUNDS

Jon McMichael took 5 for 1 and Johnny Murray 4 for 10 as The Nedd beat Bonds Glen in Qualifying One, while Donemana beat Eglinton by eight wickets. It was a tale of two sets of brothers for Bready in their win against Fox Lodge. Dean and Marc McCloskey took a combined seven wickets as the Foxies made just 98, and Colin and Robert Spence were in the runs in the five wicket win. Ardmore beat Brigade by eight wickets with Phil Patterson and Glynn King taking three wickets apiece as the Beechgrove side made just 65, Damien Gallagher’s 36 not out the highlight of a routine chase. Fox Lodge were awarded a walkover in their game on Sunday with Eglinton unable to field.

In Q2, Mark McNulty scored a half century for Strabane against Ballyspallen and took two wickets in a thrilling nine-run win, while Sion Mills forfeited their game at Glendermott on Sunday. The weather wreaked havoc with the Q3 games but Bready and Ardmore braved the elements, with Paul Brolly’s half century the difference in a hard-fought game.

NW FIXTURES

T20 Championship (Fri 6:30)
Fox Lodge v Newbuildings
St Johnston v Bonds Glen
Burndennett v Killyclooney

Premiership (Sat 1pm)
Bready v Coleraine
Brigade v Donemana
Glendermott v Eglinton
Strabane v Ballyspallen

Senior Cup (Sun)
Ardmore v Eglinton
Donemana v Brigade
Glendermott v Killyclooney
Ballyspallen v Strabane

NW Championship
Ardmore v Newbuildings
Killyclooney v St Johnston
Bonds Glen v Fox Lodge
St Johnston v Newbuildings (Sun)
Killyclooney v Fox Lodge (Tues/Wed 6.30pm)

Qualifying One
Fox Lodge II v Brigade II
Eglinton II v Bonds Glen II
Donemana II v The Nedd
Bready II v Ardmore II
Bonds Glen II v Ardmore II (Tues/Wed 6.30pm)

Qualifying Two
Newbuildings II v Sion Mills
Killyclooney II v Ballyspallen II
Coleraine II v Maghera
St Johnston II v Bready III
Bready III v Killyclooney II (Sun)
Coleraine II v Newbuildings II (Sun)

Qualifying Three
N Fermanagh v Eglinton III
Bready IV v Donemana III

Women's League (Mon 6.30)
Killyclooney v Eglinton
Bready v Newbuildings
Strabane v Burndennett