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Donemana take crown with a nine wicket victory

 

By Ian Callender

Ballymagorry may have been the venue for Donemana's Long's SuperValu Premiership triumph on Saturday but it could not save hosts Fox Lodge from a promotion/relegation play-off next weekend.

More rain on already wet ground overnight ended any hopes of the Foxes completing their league programme on the field yesterday - when they were due to play Ardmore, the team directly above them in the table - and their seventh place finish sends them into the overtime, to face Ballyspallen on Saturday at Beechgrove, to preserve their top flight status..

"Can't thank @FoxlodgeCC today enough for the effort they put into the ground for the game to go ahead #championsagain" was the tweet from Andy McBrine yesterday after the teams contrived to play a 10 overs game, which Donemana won by nine wickets.

No wonder the North West Warriors captain and Donemana all-rounder was so grateful. If the game had not gone ahead, Brigade would have been crowned champions by a single point after they defeated Coleraine by 30 runs, DLS of course, in the only other top flight game to beat the weather at the weekend. It was the fourth successive year Brigade have finished second but they can have no complaints as they failed to beat the champions - Donemana winning one and, thanks to James McBrine's six off the last ball at The Holm, tying the other.

Donemana lost only one league match all season - a batting aberration when they were bowled out for 38 by Bready - while Brigade also lost to Coleraine who finished the season isolated in third place, 40 points behind the Beechgrove side and 45 clear of Eglinton in fourth.

The champions had only two batsmen in the top 10 run scorers and no bowlers in the top five but invariably champions do not rely on one player.

They also had a settled team until Tom Riddles's heart attack in the middle of July forced the 30-year-old into retirement - hopefully he gets a winners' medal - but Junior McBrine, who had retired himself from 1st XI cricket in 2014, was a regular for the rest of the season and, at the age of 53, still finished with 30 wickets, second in the club only to Jordan McGonigle.

Don't bet against him appearing again next year when they will start favourites to complete a third successive Premiership and Senior Cup double.

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