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Doc keeps his place as O'Brien takes the gloves for Warriors

 

By Ian Callender

Niall O'Brien makes his debut for the North West Warriors today as the Hanley Energy inter-provincial season gets under way with their 50-over clash against Leinster Lightning at The Hills (10.45am).

Dubliner O'Brien has no connection with the North West but such is the strength of the Leinster side - they have won the treble in each of the last two seasons - that the selectors preferred to give Lorcan Tucker, 15 years O'Brien's junior, the gloves and in agreement with the Warriors and the 35-year-old Ireland wicket keeper, he will turn out for the North West in the 50-over and three-day games.

However, the Warriors selectors have refused to drop their long-term keeper, Ricky-Lee Dougherty and he plays today as a specialist batsman.

And the Donemana keeper proved on Saturday he is still worth his place, top scoring with 71 as the Premier League champions started their defence with a five wickets win over Eglinton. Warriors captain Andy McBrine scored 54 and had figures of two for eight from nine overs.

There was more encouragement for the Warriors as Stuart Thompson scored 98 of the visitors' 160, before he was one of Gary McClintock's four wickets.

Andy Britton and Johnny Thompson shared half the Fox Lodge wickets before Brigade chased down their target of 206 with more than five overs and five wickets to spare, opener Gareth McKeegan hitting 84.

Steve Lazars, another Warriors debutant today following his move from Lisburn, wasn't required after Ardmore were dismissed for 59 by Coleraine who knocked off the runs in 9.2 overs. New professional Graham Hume took 4-24.

Drummond fared little better, bowled out for 89 by Bready for whom Craig Young took 2-23 and they also won by nine wickets so professional Irosh Samarasooriya, who has been selected by the Warriors, did not get to the middle. All the Warriors players will have to maintain that form because they will probably be up against at least nine internationals including Ed Joyce who makes his return to inter-provincial action in the Lightning side.

Also included is Andrew Balbirnie while Jamie Grassi replaces the unavailable Tucker behind the stumps.

Yesterday's Sam McConnell Memorial Challenge Cup final was postponed because Eglinton were unable to field a strong enough team to face Donemana.

Sam McConnell Charity Cup final: At Bready, Fox Lodge 122-3 (20 overs, D McCarter 57 not out, C Tshiki 29) Ballyspallen 125-2 (17 overs, S Kennedy 48 not out, D McCallum 40). Ballyspallen won by 8 wkts.

Leinster Lightning: J Anderson (capt), A Balbirnie, P Chase, G Dockrell, J Grassi, E Joyce, T Kane, J Little, K O'Brien, E Richardson, S Singh, S Terry

North West Warriors: A McBrine (capt), A Britton, RL Dougherty, A Gillespie, S Lazars, G McClintock, N O'Brien, D Rankin, I Samarasooriya, J Thompson, S Thompson, C Young.

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