JUST a week before the start of the 2016 season, Andy McBrine was wrestling with his conscience over a move to CIYMS. The Belmont club is probably one of very few in Ireland that appealed to the all-rounder but the recent death of Donemana vice-chairman, Ken Kerrigan, had hit players and members very hard.
A few days later McBrine contacted CI to let them know he had decided to stay in Tyrone and the same night he told CricketEurope that this “would be Donemana’s year.”
In his pre-season interview, skipper Ricky-Lee Dougherty acknowledged the impact that their talisman’s decision had had on the rest of the club and said bringing the league trophy to the Holm was now top of the agenda.
As the skipper posed with both the senior league and cup trophies at the “Welcome to Donemana” sign at the entrance to the ground on Saturday evening, he didn’t have to be asked to smile for the camera. As players and supporters arrived to start what was to be a long and deserved night of celebration, Ricky-Lee reflected on another wonderful season for his club.
“We know we haven’t done ourselves justice in the league over the past few years and we were very keen to put that right. In the past, things have tailed off after winning the senior cup but probably the key moment for us this year was going to Coleraine the week after the cup final and winning again.”
“There were obviously some problems between then and now- we couldn’t get many of our games played because our ground took a serious hit from the weather and then in the home game against Drummond we were missing so many players.”
“Even today when we got it down to a one-off game, Ardmore very nearly took it away from us. Conditions are far from ideal for batting anywhere at this time of the season so even though they only got 90, we knew we weren’t over the line yet.”
“Gary Neely then bowled an unbelievable spell at the start of our innings to have us in all sorts of problems. William McClintock said that the ball that got Tom Riddles was just unplayable, however Kyle, Dwayne and Junior dug us out of trouble and it’s a great feeling to be champions again.”
And how ironic that it would be Junior and Dwayne that brought the win home. Two men with very different styles but who combined to great effect at Ardmore, both with the bat and the ball.
The former celebrated his 53rd birthday just the day before the title decider and although he hasn’t been a regular in the first team for the past couple of seasons, when Andy is away, dad steps in. And he never steps in just to make up the numbers.
When the chips were down for Donemana during the run-in over the past few weeks- at Drummond and at Ardmore- Junior was front and centre.
Perhaps the only thing missing from the perfect picture on Saturday was Andy himself- en-route to South Africa with his Ireland team-mates.
The players confirmed however that he followed every ball- first on social media when Donemana were fielding and then in a “group chat” when they were chasing down the 91 runs required to lift the title.
And apparently “the scowls of him at 6-4 were nothing normal.”
But then all’s well that ends well.