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Donemana's teen sensations set for fantastic five-in-a-row

By Ian Callender

Some top cricketers can go through a whole career without playing in a cup final but for three of the Donemana team that will play in the Bank of Ireland Senior Cup final this weekend, it will be their fifth in a row - and they are still teenagers!

Twins Gary and William McClintock and William McBrine were just 15-years-old when selected for the 2012 cup final against Brigade and, although the great Junior McBrine and twin James were also in the team, two of the youngsters played a full part.

William bowled 14 overs, taking three for 12 in the second innings, removing the top two scorers as Brigade were skittled for 110, and although Donemana needed only 104 to win, they had collapsed to 57 for five when Gary McClintock walked to the middle to join Junior.

But, with an exceptionally cool head on very young shoulders, Gary faced 47 balls to finish 16 not out in an unbroken partnership of 47 to win the match.

The trio have been ever presents ever since as Donemana became the first team in more than 100 years to win four successive Senior Cup finals.

By 2013, Gary was batting at No 3 and scored 68 in the match - only Andy McBrine scored more in their six wickets win -and the following year William McBrine, Junior's son, again hurried his side to victory, by 88 runs, as Brigade lost in the final for the third year in a row.

Last year, William McClintock opened the batting against Eglinton, so when the final, against defending league champions Coleraine, begins on Friday in Strabane Park, all three, by now old hands, will be expected to make significant contributions.

The trio are the latest off the phenomenal Donemana production line which has consistently produced home-grown cricketers down the years from the cricket-mad village - and consistency is the key word, with this year's starting line-up set to be exactly the same 11 which beat Eglinton by five wickets 12 months ago.

Indeed, there will be six survivors from the 2012 team with only Graham Boyd and then overseas player Kamran Sajid having left the club.

James and Junior McBrine are still playing in the Seconds while Richard Kee, captain of the first three winning teams, has stepped down.

Another home-grown player and former captain, Jordan McGonigle, knows all about breaking into the team as a youngster and although he missed out on the 1999 decider as a 17-year-old, he made his cup final debut two years later.

As he prepares for his ninth two-day showpiece, he is perfectly placed to explain why Donemana are one of the few clubs who would even contemplate throwing 15-year-olds into a Senior Cup final.

"People may have expected them to seize up in a high-pressure game such as the senior final but as a club we were confident they would relish the challenge. In that first final against Brigade they were probably helped by the fact that they were surrounded by a wealth of experience and a squad with unbelievable mental toughness," said McGonigle.

"Nowadays the three boys take these games in their stride and indeed the senior players will be looking to them to provide their brand of exuberance if things are getting tight, as no doubt they will.

"Realistically the only chance of their record being broken in our lifetime is if they break it themselves next season but it is something they will look back on with pride in years to come.

"They won't be bothered about it for now though, because the three of them know they have a big job to do this weekend."

McGonigle will still have two team-mates from the 2001 victory against Limavady, Andrew Riddles and Dwayne McGerrigle, in a Donemana side which featured 16-year-old William Porterfield. Whatever happened to him!

Belfast Telegraph


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