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McMichael is determined to raise Limavady's stock

By Ian Callender

When Limavady take the field in the Qualifying 3 Cup final tomorrow, it will signal a first tentative step on their return to the big time. At the beginning of last year, it was announced that one of the most successful North West sides of the last 20 years were relinquishing their senior status.

They withdrew from the new eight-team Premiership "to preserve the long-term future of the club" and their sole remaining team was put into Qualifying League Two, the fourth tier of league cricket.

At a stroke the players who had won the Faughan Valley Cup the previous season, and the survivors from the league championship-winning squad of 2009 and back to back Senior Cup winners of 2007-08 left.

Summer 2013 proved a hard slog; they won just four of 22 league games, finished 11th out of 12 and were relegated.

But they would appear to have found their level this year because they have won six out of nine and are just two points off the lead with games in hand over the two teams above them. One of those is Glendermott II, their opponents in this weekend's final at Burndennett.

Getting back to Qualifying Two is the club's priority this season but as captain Simon McMichael admits: "No-one is going to turn down the chance of a cup winners' medal."

And McMichael knows all about winning medals. Ten years ago he won the most prestigious of them all in Irish cricket, the Irish Senior Cup, when Limavady beat Strabane in an all-North West final.

As a teenager he was also a member of the team that won the Senior Cups in 2002 and 2003 and although only an occasional cricketer since 2007, he was recalled for the 2010 Ulster Cup final against Instonians.

"By that stage I was only a squad member, along with players like Paul Blackburn and Ivor Lapsley who will also be playing this weekend, so I had to make a choice of whether to play cricket or work and when I became sales manager at Donnelly and Taggart Peugeot I was working most Saturdays," says McMichael.

"I'm still not available most Saturdays, but there is Sunday cricket and when I'm playing I have the captaincy. Jack Semple is skipper when I'm not playing."

Semple, a one-club man for more than 30 years, was one of the mainstays in keeping the club going after the sensational decision to quit senior cricket, one which McMichael still finds hard to believe, 18 months on.

"It was such a successful club for many years with the great Decker Curry at the helm, so it's a privilege to follow in his footsteps.

"It is going to a long, hard road but our aim is to get back where we belong and that it is the Premiership," insists McMichael.

The team have an extra incentive for with club personality Dominic O'Brien having died in May, winning this weekend would be the perfect tribute.

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