DONEMANA FORM A REAL RIDDLE FOR ANDREW

It has been a difficult season for Donemana so far in 2019- knocked out of the senior cup by Brigade at the quarter-final stage and now some way behind the Beechgrove outfit in the title race as well, with matches running out.

in fact it's been a strange couple of years by their own high standards, having gone without a senior trophy since claiming back-to-back league and cup doubles in 2016 and 2017.

They can of course still win the Faughan Valley Cup this time, however even that would be scant reward for a club used to parading senior trophies around the Tyrone village on a regular basis.

They recorded a thumping win over Coleraine at Sandel Lodge on Saturday having bowled Stephen Hutchinson's team out for 51, so the quality is there when it comes together. The mind's eye is drawn however to the thoughts of club captain Andrew Riddles on the eve of this season when he insisted that the biggest challenge might be "keeping the focus throughout the year, especially if we get a couple of bad results."

Riddles is a no-nonsense competitor who hates losing and this campaign has taken its toll on him. He missed several games mid-season due to a hip injury and although he returned to the team for Saturday's run to the north coast, the 35-year old was feeling the pinch.

"It's been a poor year for us, there's no denying that" he began.

"We've struggled with selection problems right throughout the season and that has been no secret. Some boys have regular work committments, but it has been a motivation issue too if we're going to be honest."

"Looking around our league there are probably a few clubs struggling for quality and that makes it very uncompetitive. Brigade are very strong but then we all struggled to make an impact on the Irish Senior Cup, including them."

"I think if we had the committment of every player we'd be a very different side, but it isn't easy."

Riddles also suggested that he would take the winter to look at his own future given his injury problems of late.

"I've had two operations on my knee and one on my shoulder in the past couple of years and that takes a toll. It's a sport where you need to be enjoying the game to get the best out of it so I will consider my options at the end of the summer."

"I can't say hand on heart that this season will be my last but it's just been a very ordinary sort of year so far."

A couple of indifferent summers is hardly the death knell of a club as big as this one of course but the Donemana captain truly believes that attitudes need to change if his side is to reclaim their crown as Kings of the North West.

"Having good players isn't enough on its own to win trophies."

"Winning six senior cups in a row didn't happen by accident and don't forget Donemana were nearly 100 runs behind Brigade after the first innings in one of those finals and came back to win easily."

"Most of those players are still here so it's definitely not for a want of ability".

We said before the Coleraine game on Saturday that we need to take stock of what we're playing for. We will need to have that same conversation as a club over the winter."

BURNDENNETT STAY TOP DESPITE SCARE IN DONEGAL

Burndennett maintained their push towards promotion to the Premier Division on Saturday when they won a low-scoring contest against St Johnston at the Boathole.

Conditions dictated that it was hardly going to be a day for vintage cricket, but it didn't need to be as the visitors finally chased down 72 to win having been 40-5 in reply to the Saints' small total.

Regardless to what happens from here this has been a sensational effort from Mark Mooney's team, although they will be desperate now to finish the job.

'Dennett have four games left now starting this Saturday when they entertain bottom side Bonds Glen. The visitors have yet to win a game this summer, however that will matter very little to the home side as they have their eyes fixed firmly on their own prize.

The three games likely to decide their fate start in the middle of August with a home match against second placed Ardmore. That looks to be the key game in the Championship this summer, where a win for Burndennett would almost surely guarantee them the first stint in top-flight domestic cricket.

That Ardmore contest will be 'Dennett's final home league game of the summer as they finish with away matches at Newbuildings and Fox Lodge.

It may be some weeks away yet but that will be some afternoon in Ballymagorry if the league leaders can string together three more ones between now and then.

BRILLIANT BREADY WORTHY OF PRAISE

Bready Cricket Club's recent hosting of a trio of International matches between Ireland and Zimbabwe has earned many plaudits among the Irish cricket fraternity. The Union and the club themselves pulled out all the stops to ensure the games took place against the best possible backdrop and despite the odd shower here and there, it was definitely a job well done.

It wasn't just the local fraternity who were lavish in their praise of the Magheramason club either- Match Referee and former New Zealand opening batsman Jeff Crowe insisting that Bready has now become a genuine International venue.

Crowe is employed by the ICC these days and it was he who carried out the initial inspection of the ground in 2012.

Speaking this week during the final T20 contest, the Kiwi suggested the ground was now a facility of which the North West could be proud.

"I was impressed when I came here at the start, and the facility has developed really well over the past 7 years" he said.

"The North West is a very hospitable region, and while the view from the clubhouse at Lords is something special in cricket, there are very few venues where the scenery is any more spectacular than sitting upstairs and Bready watching cricket."

"I hope that this is just the beginning of your International journey and that you get to enjoy many more games here in the coming years."

No doubt there will be plenty of folk in the local Union who share those sentiments.

RANKIN TON INSPIRES BREADY

Finally this week a hat-tip to Bready's David Rankin who scored a superb century at the Park on Saturday as the champions beat Strabane by 109 runs in the Premier Division.

Rankin has been a thorn in the Red Caps' side more than once of course, but this was a very impressive knock in batting conditions that were far from ideal.

The Warriors batsman hit 13 fours and 3 sixes in his 123 and that contribution, coupled with 50 from David Scanlon allowed Bready to post a daunting target of 272.

The home side never got close in reply- a late rally from Tom Harpur the best of their resistance as Bready claimed maximum points.

Strabane are now staring down the barrel of a second relegation in three years unless they can turn things around very quickly.