IT’S been the perfect start to the season for North West T20 Cup holders Donemana and there is no reason why it should not get even better with the return from international duty of Andy McBrine.
The North West Warriors skipper enjoyed a personally satisfying three one-day internationals against England in Southampton, when he scored 64 runs and took the wicket of Johnny Bairstow, climaxed by being a member of the team that beat England for the first time in their own backyard on Tuesday.
One team-mate particularly delighted to have him back is Donemana’s new captain, William McClintock.
“Andy has all the experience and is vice-captain so if I’m struggling hopefully he can help me – if he helps me!” says McClintock.
Not that there have been any struggles this season with Donemana the only team to take maximum points for their games, which leaves them in pole position to qualify for the semi-finals of the Senior Cup in first position in Group 4 of the T20 Championship.
“It’s been a good start, although we’re not playing the same level against Bonds Glen and Killyclooney, but it’s a good run out, we can get rid of the cobwebs and it gets everybody up and going," said McClintock.
Ardmore are the other team in their group and they have already beaten the Bleachgreen side by 69 runs, thanks to a blistering 82 from Dwayne McGerrigle.
“He is a massive player for us in T20 and it’s also good to get Gary (McClintock) playing again this year," added his twin brother.
"He didn’t play as much in the last couple of years but he also bowls four overs for us and with Scra (McBrine) coming back this week, that’s eight overs, and a lot of runs hopefully.”
The captain has promoted himself to opening batsman this year – and he has already shared a century partnership with Gary in the big victory over Bonds Glen, which was their last match, two weeks ago, because the Killyclooney game last Saturday was postponed following the death of McGerrigle’s father. That game has been rearranged for next Tuesday.
McClintock is only 23 years of age but, having made his debut at 13, he admits he has “been around the block. I know what it’s all about”.
He added: “It’s been a bit of a strange season because we are struggling for players but we’ll fire on because we have no other options. At least a T20 competition suits us better, at Donemana we just go out and enjoy ourselves and see how far we can get.
“And when the Senior Cup is mentioned, everyone is up for it and we won’t be rolled over by anyone.” Among the new names this year are left arm spinner Sam Huey who had figures of 4-1-8-4 in his first game of the season against Bonds Glen.
“Sam was going to give up cricket but played for the Seconds last year, but I honestly think he should be in the Firsts anyway. He is a good spinner and a relative of Junior McBrine!
“Mark Moore was last year’s Seconds captain, he’s a batter but hasn’t had much opportunity so far this year, he is more suited to 50-over cricket.
“Joe Robinson played a few games last year and will play most of them this year and Billy Dougherty is a good option and will replace his brother as wicket-keeper, when Ricky-Lee is not available."
It’s the away game against Ardmore today and another victory for Donemana will almost guarantee them a place in those Senior Cup semi-finals.
Coleraine should be the first team through as group winners, they only have to avoid defeat against Eglinton at Sandel Lodge but it is still all to play for in the other two sections.
Newbuildings and Brigade will expect to make it three wins out of four – their other games were rained off – at home to Glendermott and away to St Johnston respectively, while in Group 3, Bready can take a huge stride to a first place finish by beating Burndennett at Magheramason.
Tomorrow’s fixtures (2.00): Coleraine v Eglinton, Newbuildings v Glendermott, St Johnston v Brigade, Bready v Burndennett, Fox Lodge v Strabane, Ardmore v Donemana, Bonds Glen v Killyclooney.