Clash of the Titans
Ian Callender (Belfast Telegraph)
IT remains one of the fiercest rivalries in local cricket so when Brigade and Donemana meet it is always an occasion to savour. When it is a cup final, the competitiveness is racked up to fever pitch and tomorrow’s North West Senior Cup decider at Beechgrove (2.00pm) will be no exception.
In this unprecedented season, the number of spectators has been limited to 200, but such is the interest the £5 tickets sold out in 45 minutes. And for Brigade skipper Andy Britton and his Donemana counterpart William McClintock the trophy is the only thing that matters.
“Once the Senior Cup is mentioned in Donemana it gets everybody going and hopefully we can do something for our fans,” says McClintock.
“If your name is on the Senior Cup it doesn’t say how it got there,” adds Britton. “Donemana won six in a row so it will be hard to beat that, but we go for three in a row on Saturday.”
Even the venue suits both teams.
“We’ve a good record at Beechgrove,” says McClintock, so I’m totally comfortable going there and it’s a great field for a final, so we’ll not worry about that, and we’ve won cup finals there before.”
However this time, in one of the more unusual coincidences, the Brigade captain just happens to be the Brigade groundsman!
“Yes, they’ve a good record in Beechgrove but a final changes everything,” says Britton. “I’m preparing the wicket so I’ll do it the best I can for Brigade. They have four spinners so it shouldn’t be turning too much!”
Brigade have never beaten Donemana in the North West showdown – losing three in a row from 2012 – but then there has never been a 20-over final before and this year, Brigade are the only team to have reached this stage with a 100 per cent record.
But according to Britton, that will count for nothing tomorrow.
“Donemana always turn up for a final. They might have had a blip against Killyclooney but I don’t think it’ll make a difference. They have top T20 players in the McClintocks (William and his twin Gary), Dwayne McGerrigle and Scra (Andy McBrine) and we’ll have to be at our best.”
But Britton is full of praise for his own team this year, with the highlight being their semi-final demolition of Bready last week.
“It was a lot easier than I thought it would be. Ryan Hunter and Ifti (Hussain) batted well. They’ve probably been our best batsmen this year but I’ve also been impressed by Kyle Magee. I didn’t know where to bat him so I kept him at No 4 and he has not let me down.”
T20 is not a game for bowlers but Ryan Macbeth has 15 wickets this season and Rachit Gaur and Ross Allen have also been bowling well, adds their skipper. And it was the Donemana bowlers who won their semi-final against Coleraine, restricting the Bannsiders to 96-8, before chasing down the runs inside 14 overs in what McClintock described as their "best game of the season".
But he knows they will may need to be even better to bring the famous trophy back to Donemana and prevent Brigade getting closer to their record run.
The Women’s final between Fox Lodge, also going for a hat-trick of wins, and Eglinton gets the weekend action under way tonight at Ballymagorry (6.30pm) and also tomorrow Ballyspallen host Burndennett in the Sam Jeffrey Final.