Honours even in NW Senior Cup final
The Northern Bank senior cup final is delicately poised overnight after just 7 runs separated Brigade and Donemana at the end of a first innings in which the two sides paid each other plenty of respect. With Bready hosting the final for the first time ever events began in front of a reasonable attendance but by mid-afternoon an excellent crowd had built up a cracking atmosphere as the two giants went head-to-head.
Iftikhar Hussain, skippering the Beechgrove side in the absence of Mark Simpson, won the toss and elected to bat first on a superb track. The champions' started deliberately with Gareth McKeegan in watchful mode while Mattie Moran was as usual, less reserved.
The pair had put on 38 when the latter gave William McBrine the charge, missed and was stumped having made 21. Skipper Iftikhar Hussain joined McKeegan and immediately showed aggressive intent as he took 10 runs off the rest of the youngster's over however Donemana didn't help themselves in the field.
McKeegan survived two dropped chances as he began to accelerate but his partner wasn't so lucky as William McClintock took a good catch at long off to dismiss the Brigade skipper for 28. That was 74 for 2 but McKeegan was starting to find his feet and joined by Harry Chappell the champions were able to up the ante.
The opener reached his 50 with a four off William McBrine and with Chappell taking his turn to anchor, the left hander began to push on. McKeegan's first 50 took 83 balls however just 33 balls later his bat was in the air again as he celebrated an excellent century that included 7 fours and 5 sixes.
Chappell was composed at the other end but having reached his century McKeegan and the Englishman went for a quick single and the former was short when the stumps were broken. Chappell went on to make 42 before being bowled by Kamran Sajid while Johnny Thompson and Mark Snodgrass both fell cheaply.
Dean Curry smacked a quick unbeaten 17 at the end as Brigade finished their 50 overs on 248 for 6. Sajid (2-44) and Junior McBrine (2-51) were the pick of the Tyrone side's attack and it appeared that both teams were relatively pleased with their efforts to that point.
Donemana's reply started well; very well in fact as Sajid and Graeme Boyd gradually got on top of the Beechgrove side's attack. The pair posted a century stand for the first wicket but no sooner had they passed the landmark than Boyd lobbed a simple chance to Dean Curry and was gone for 26.
Worse was to follow shortly after when Trevor Britton threw a loose one down leg side and Sajid lost his balance trying to play at it and was stumped for 61. That was 108 for 2 and game on again and brought Ricky-Lee Dougherty and skipper Kee to the middle and that pair set about giving Donemana a platform to post a decent advantage.
Dougherty was in aggressive form hitting 3 fours and 4 sixes, the last of which bounced of the Press section window at the top of the clubhouse while Kee was happy to hang around with him. Their partnership was worth 74 before Dougherty miscued one to Mark Snodgrass and was gone for 54 and when Kee was trapped leg before soon after, Brigade were back in it.
Dwayne McGerrigle landed a few lofty blows before the old firm of James and Junior McBrine were left to see out the Holm side's reply. The twins batted sensibly and brought the scores level with just two balls left of the 50 overs before James gave his side a narrow lead with a six and a single from them closing on 255 for 5.
Johnny Thompson with 2 for 48 did best with the ball while there was a wicket apiece for Hussain, Trevor Britton and Dale Culbert.
A game that started with all the makings of a nail-biter was certainly turning into just that as Brigade set out to start their second innings.
Moran and McKeegan would have been planning to see it through to “light” from there but disaster struck for the first innings centurion early this time when having hit 3 fours he was caught behind off the bowling of Sajid for 12.
Frustratingly for the opener the umpires took the players off for bad light before the next ball was bowled and that was it for the night. Honours even after Day 1 then and for once a cup final perfectly poised going into the second day.