Donemana complete the League and Cup double for the first time in 20 years
In the end it wasn't quite the nail-biting final day that everyone had hoped for but Richard Kee will care little about that after Donemana secured the 2012 Long's SuperValu Division 1 title on Saturday thereby completing the league and cup double for the Holm men for the first time in 20 years. Donemana had the destiny of the championship in their own hands going into the weekend as they were level on points with Bready but had one game extra to play. Considering that their two matches were against Coleraine on Saturday and Brigade yesterday however, two sides who could have finished level on points at the top themselves had results gone their way, it was always going to be far from easy.
It was a strange looking Coleraine team that took the field as action got under way- no Ian McGregor or Scott Campbell (both injured) and a top three that included Calum McGregor and Rory Knox, neither of whom have featured much of late. Craig Averill held the innings together early on as runs were at a real premium, the visitors managing just 59 for 3 from the first 25 overs.
News that Donemana were on top should have spurred on Bready who then needed at big performance at Ballymagorry to take the race into yesterday's final day. The hosts were on a decent run however and desperately needed the points themselves to avoid next week's play-off with Division 2 winners Eglinton. David Barr (32) and Agha Sabir (31) gave Bready a decent start with a 55-run stand before a middle order collapse, brought about by a good spell from Wajihuddin had them reeling on 98 for 6.
Coleraine's situation wasn't getting any better at the Holm either and once Averill went for a patient 38 it was clear that this was Donemana's to lose. Cameos from Paul Douglas, Johnny Martin and Stephen Dunn got them to a very modest 115 all out as father and son pairing Junior McBrine (4 for 25) and Andy McBrine (2 for 16) did the bulk of the damage. Down at Ballymagorry meanwhile Brian Crumley had led the fightback , hitting 2 fours and 4 sixes in his 48 while Ryan Barr (22) and Mark Fleming (19 not out) combined to help Bready to 181 all out. Wajihuddin finished with 3 for 22 while there were two wickets apiece for Jason Milligan and Gareth Heywood.
Donemana got a real scare at the start of their reply as Kamran Sajid was caught by wicket-keeper Stephen Dunn (yes, wicket-keeper) without scoring before Ryan Hunter (22), Andy McBrine (19) and skipper Richard Kee followed him back up the brae. The home side were 58 for 4 at that stage and in danger of making a Horlicks as Gareth Burns, David Cooke and Rishi Chopra bowled tidily.
Defending their 181 Bready really needed a good start and although they got Jason Milligan for 14, Brian Allen (34) and Wajihuddin (18) kept the Foxies in the driving seat. Even when they lost the latter, Mark Mooney (pictured) was on hand to steady the ship as the title race began to turn Donemana's way. Ricky-Lee Dougherty (31*) and Graeme Boyd (30*) had by that stage picked up the gauntlet for the cup winners and an unbroken 59-run stand ensured that Kee's men put the pressure right back on Bready with a 6-wicket verdict. Word soon spread that anything less than a win for David Scanlon's men would mean the title heading back to the Holm but Mooney was scuppering the plans. The Foxies' batsman finally fell for 45 that included 3 fours and 4 sixes and while that, and the loss of Dean McCarter saw the hosts wobble slightly, Andrew McGinnis (20*) and skipper Jonny Robinson (16*) got them over the line to a huge collective sigh of relief.
And that was that. The title back with Donemana for the first time in 4 years completing a remarkable season for the new champions while Fox Lodge's win sent Glendermott into next weekend's promotion/relegation play-off with Eglinton at Burndennett. The Rectory side had been set a target of 168 by Bonds Glen courtesy of an excellent 98 from Willie Jackson that included 10 fours and 7 sixes. Roy Silva (4 for 38), Alan Johnston (2 for 23) and Charlie Elder (2 for 38) ensured that it wasn't more and the Sri Lankan was in form with the bat as well as Gordon Montgomery's side posted an easy win. Silva hit 6 fours and 9 sixes in a 66-ball unbeaten century as the Division 1 side prepared for that nervous play-off in 7 days' time.
Elsewhere, Brigade thumped a really out-of-sorts Limavady who fielded without a host of first-team players. Zeeshan Malik and Simon Dunn posted a half century stand for the first wicket before Johnny Thompson (6 for 28) and Iftikhar Hussain ran amok. Only Ricky McDaid with 11 got into double figures after that in a total of just 89 all out while Mattie Moran (38), Thompson again (22*) and Andrew Baggley (15*) closed out a facile 7-wicket win.
Strabane also closed with a win as they had 6 wickets to spare over relegated Creevedonnell. Gary Neely hit 7 fours and a six in an unbeaten 58 while skipper Stephen Scroggie (23) and AJ Patterson (21) contributed to a very respectable 171 all out for the visitors. Phil Eaglestone was again the pick of the Red Caps' attack, finishing with figures of 5 for 22. Kevin Martin had posted his highest score of the season in last week's defeat by Donemana and the left hander was in good touch again here hitting 9 fours and a six in his 80 not out. Faisal Iqbal added a half century in what was ultimately a cosy win in an ordinary enough season for the former champions.
And it would be remiss to finish without acknowledging Eglinton's 10-wicket win at Killyclooney on Saturday that closed the Division 2 campaign. Richard Wylie's 4 for 2 along with 3 wickets for Jonny Gardiner and 2 for Ross Allen restricted the hosts to just 71 all out and Jamie Millar and Chris Pierce needed less than 10 overs to clinch for the champions. This was Eglinton's 12th straight win in the league this season and sends the villagers into that crucial play-off next week in the form of their lives.
Drummond handed an 8-wicket defeat to St Johnston in the day's only other game.