Donemana have lost only two of their last 13 Northern Bank Senior Cup finals, usually because they have been favourites — and favourites rarely fail twice in a two-innings game.
The loss of Andy McBrine and Ryan Hunter, however, to Ireland Under-19 duty has thrown this year’s decider against Bready wide open, and even skipper Richard Kee admits it is now 50-50 when the teams turn up at Eglinton tomorrow (noon).
Hunter is the free-scoring, in-form opening batsman who attacks from the off and McBrine is already a genuine all-rounder so, as well as the rest of the team compensating for his missing runs, Kee has to replace his 20 overs with the ball. “It undoubtedly weakens our batting,” says Kee, “ but it is up to the rest of us to take more responsibility.”
But it is two players at the other end of the age scale who could yet again be match-winners for the North West cup kings. This weekend marks the 30th anniversary of James McBrine’s first senior final and while his contribution with the bat that day was modest, he took four Eglinton wickets in the second innings to set up another Donemana victory.
At 47 years of age, he and his twin, Junior, are still performing with the enthusiasm of 17-year-olds, but with a lot more ability, and opponents know a Donemana innings is never over until the McBrines have been dismissed.
Bready captain Trevor Hamilton is no exception but he prefers to concentrate on his own team and he has come up with a couple of surprises in his team selection.
James Long, one of three survivors, along with Hamilton and Mark Olphert, from Bready’s first and still only Senior Cup success in 1996, has been chosen ahead of Dean Curry after hitting 85 in last Sunday’s game at Eglinton and Adam Warnock has been preferred to David Lecky.
“James was a late replacement last Sunday and took his opportunity with both hands, and Adam is the leading wicket taker for the Seconds and has bowled well when he has played for the Firsts so I feel he can do a job as first change,” said Hamilton, who will be hoping that David Rankin and Steven Clarke can continue their superb form with the bat in the competition for one more match.
Bready: D Rankin, M Olphert, S Clarke, A Sabir, B Crumley, B Scanlon, D Scanlon, J Long, T Hamilton, A Warnock, M Fleming.
Donemana: R Kee, R-L Dougherty, K Sajid, Jun McBrine, G Boyd, D McGerrigle, D Olphert, J McBrine, R McBrine, R Huey, J McGonigle. 12th man: W McBrine.