Three in a row for dominant Donemana
THREE IN A ROW FOR DOMINANT DONEMANA
There is just something very special about the Danske Bank Senior Cup as far as Donemana are concerned and the Tyrone club duly completed an unprecedented hat-trick of wins with a third successive victory over Brigade at the weekend.
The form of the two teams couldn't have been any more contrasting going into the two-innings decider- Brigade having just gone joint top of the league last midweek with a 10-wicket destruction of Richard Kee's men but you know what they say about form and finals.
That was certainly the case here as the holders dominated all bar a couple of hours late on Saturday afternoon when first Johnny Thompson and then David Murdock threatened to cause an almighty upset. In the end it wasn't to be and the cup was back at it's now spiritual home in Tyrone late on Saturday evening.
The Donemana skipper won the toss on an excellent Strabane track, the first time he has called correctly in four final attempts and he had little hesitation in batting first.
Stephen Wallace and Tom Riddles were sent in to open the innings but Mark Simpson gave Brigade the perfect start as he had Wallace caught behind by Gareth McKeegan in his very first over. Riddles and Gary McClintock then set about rebuilding but the fielding side didn't cover themselves in glory as they missed several chances to break up this pair as well.
It was left to skipper McKeegan to put that right as he bagged McClintock off the bowling of Simon Dunn for 17 and Brigade were right back in it soon after when Riddles mistimed a big drive to Ryan Hunter off Richard Hepburn and was gone for a very solid 45 (6 fours).
That brought Andy McBrine and Kamran Sajid together-Donemana's prized pairing-and both looked very comfortable from the start. They were to add a valuable 67 runs before Sajid was caught by Ian McGregor on the boundary for 32.
Ricky-Lee Dougherty came and went and Andy McBrine followed shortly after, but not before the Warriors skiper had made 51 very valuable runs (6 fours). Skipper Kee (31) not out and William McClintock (26) added another 45 for the 7th wicket while Kee and Junior McBrine (16 not out) batted out the final overs very tidily to see their side close their first innings on a very competitive 244 for 7.
Simon Dunn (2-38), Britton (2-40) and Richard Hepburn (2-49) were the most successful of the Brigade bowlers.
McKeegan's men desperately needed to stay competitive when they batted however they didn't start well either as Sajid found the edge of McGregor's bat with the score on 7 and Junior McBrine snapped up an excellent catch in the slips.
The skipper and Ryan Hunter added 37 more before former Donemana player Hunter was run out for 13 attempting a quick single and McKeegan and Mattie Moran had added just 14 more when disaster struck for Brigade.
Jordan McGonigle had Moran caught in the deep by Kamran Sajid for 4 and with his very next ball he had the skipper caught behind by Dougherty as they slumped to 58 for 4. Much now rested on the shoulders of Johnny Thompson and Vijay Amarnath but the overseas man had made just 9 when McGonigle tempted him out of his lines and Dougherty did the rest.
Danger man Thompson didn't last long either as Brigade now threatened to implode for a third successive final, William McClintock with a superb catch on the boundary seeing the back of another former Holm player. David Murdock was next to go, the younster picking out Kee at midwicket to leave Brigade 78 for 7.
Richard Hepburn and Andy Britton tried manfully to fend off a rampant Donemana but Andy McBrine removed Britton for 5 and Simon Dunn without scoring as the holders scented blood. Hepburn though was proving much more durable and with the follow-on marker still in front of the last pair, he and Mark Simpson fought tooth and nail to hang in.
The former Donemana and Bonds Glen all-rounder got himself to 50, hitting 3 fours and 2 sixes on the way but more importantly he gave his side some sort of chance for Saturday. The last wicket partnership was 41 in the end, Brigade's biggest of the innings, Hepburn with 51 and Simpson chipping in with 5 but as they closed with a deficit of 103. It was a strange reply from them if the truth be told and one that did little to aid their cause in the contest of the match.
Donemana had the option of enforcing the follow-on at this point but decided against it and sent William McClintock in to open with Riddles. Brigade introduced the spinners almost immediately but the openers safely negotiated an additional 10 overs, Riddles on 19, McClintock on 17 at the close with the batting side 38 without loss, a commanding lead of 142.
The fielding side needed to get back into the contest and quickly on Saturday and Andy Britton provided the perfect start as he dismissed Riddles in the first over of the morning without any addition to the score. Gary McClintock and Kamran Sajid settled things down again quite quickly however the young opener, by far the more aggressive of the two early on was next to depart.
It was Hepburn again who broke up this pairing, McClintock caught on the fence by David Murdock for 39 but it was clear that the plan from Donemana was slow and steady and get that lead over 300.
Stephen Wallace, Andy McBrine and Richard Kee all got modest starts but none of them really cracked on to get the runs that would put their opponents out of the contest and it was left to professional Kamran Sajid to anchor things down.
The Pakistani started his second stint with the bat very deliberately but it was he who helped the cup holders over the 200-mark in their final innings, Sajid with 7 fours in his patient, unbeaten 70. It may have taken 119 balls but it meant that if they were to buck the trend, Brigade would need a very unlikely 310 to take the cup back down the Limavady Road.
McKeegan resisted the temptation to open with his pinch-hitters, he and Ian McGregor again first to the wicket in the chase, but again it started badly.
First McGregor got a very fine edge on one from Sajid and soon after that Moran, looking to up the ante, skied one to the Donemana professional to leave the reply on 21 for 2. Another blow was just around the corner; the Brigade captain's cup final ended by that man Sajid and at 48 for 3 the game was as good as gone.
Johnny Thompson provided some much needed entertainment for the big crowd as he raced to a quick 50, hitting 6 fours and 3 sixes and when he went, David Murdock took the challenge on.
The youngster thoroughly vindicated his selection with a chance-less half century, and with 20 overs to go and Brigade 184 for 6 you had to wonder what sort of match this would have been had Brigade taken the handbrake off on Friday afternoon.
Murdock finally fell for 63 just as the Holm supporters were getting a touch edgy and you could see the relief of the Donemana players when Tom Riddles took an excellent catch on the boundary.
His knock came off just 57 balls and contained 6 fours and 2 sixes but despite Murdock and Thompson's efforts, Brigade came up 88 runs short.
It was a valiant effort but Gareth McKeegan is sure to have gone home thinking it should have been closer. Andy McBrine picked up the man-of-the-match award for his 63 runs and 5 wickets in what was a thoroughly entertaining couple of days for Donemana and North West cricket.