Just champion - that’s Donemana cricketers
By Ian Callender
Rarely can a team have found it so easy to clinch a league title.
It could not have gone any better for Donemana on their crowning day as the new North West champions humbled the old and overtook Limavady at the top of the Senior One table.
The Roesiders could only look on, helplessly, as Donemana, one point behind at the start of the season’s last day, swept to a nine wickets victory over a Brigade side whose season finished approximately two months ago.
The defending champions have scarcely put up any resistance for the last half a dozen matches so why should it be any different as their season from hell was finally in sight?
It wasn’t, as a pitiful 40 overs of batting ended with just 69 runs on the board. Eleven and a half overs later it was all over and the Donemana team of 2008 were celebrating with the trophy, presented by sponsor Billy Henderson.
The club’s only disappointment was that Azhar Shafiq was not there to share the joy, the Pakistani having to return home ahead of the final fixture.
His presence would have been a luxury on the day but his 1,240 runs in the season, comfortably the highest by any Donemana batsmen, plus 43 wickets played a major role in their championship success.
Junior McBrine, yet again, was the leading wicket-taker with 53 but both he and captain Dwayne McGerrigle were denied the chance to bring up 800 runs as Donemana lost just one wicket yesterday. James McBrine fell four runs short of 700 when he was stranded on 26 not out when he hit the winning run.
Jordan McGonigle had earlier stormed through the 40 wickets barrier with the remarkable figures of four for seven from 6.3 overs as chronically under-strength Brigade lost their last four wickets for four runs.
The players’ statistics, however, tell only half the story of Donemana's success. It is that indubitable team-spirit which contines to shine, year after year - and they are a team. Only 13 players were used in the 18 matches with injuries and unavailability eluding the champions. One of those factors may have been luck but the other is a key to any winning team.
While the NCU are still two weeks from completing their season, remarkably, there was only one ‘no result’ in Senior One all season and Donemana's tally of 16 wins, one tie and one defeat (to Limavady) is a record no-one could live with.
When they get a settled batting order they promise to be even more formidable opponents!
Next season, for the first time in 10 years, they will be facing Coleraine in a league match.
The Bannsiders won the Senior Two title on Saturday, without the need of a play-off, after their final day victory over Drummond.
Their only remaining challengers, Sion Mills, lost to Burndennett to leave Coleraine two points clear in first place.