All roads lead to Strabane Park tomorrow (Friday) for the first day of this year’s Danske Bank Senior Cup final as Brigade and Donemana go head-to-head in their third successive blue riband decider.
It is unusual for two sides to avoid each other right to the final three years running never mind anything else but both camps have their eye fixed firmly on the prize once more.
The teams met at the Holm just a couple of weeks ago with Brigade recording a thumping 10-wicket win that put them joint top of the table however neither camp is reading too much into that.
The Beechgrove side’s skipper Gareth McKeegan insisted that their opponents had several players missing that night and that neither that, nor any of the past two finals would have any bearing on the outcome.
Donemana captain Richard Kee agreed with his counterpart’s assessment and said that both sides would be starting the two-innings contest with a clean slate.
“To be honest, whoever won the toss before that league game was going to be well on course to win the match. Rain had got in under the covers and although the pitch was playable it was very damp – it played slow and low with a totally unpredictable bounce.
“Brigade took full advantage and bowled very well so I had no arguments however it was a different track the next night.
“That said, we’re very disappointed with our league form generally this season. We’ve been very hit and miss if I’m honest and I’m sure the bookies will have Brigade as favourites to win the cup.
“We were due to play Bready in the quarter-finals of the Faughan Valley Cup this week and although ideally you wouldn’t normally want any games in cup final week I was glad of this one to allow us some match practice”.
Asked if he was happy to go to Strabane for the game, Kee insisted that he was.
“I’m a traditionalist in that I think the Senior final should be at Eglinton every year but since the year about between Derry and Tyrone has been introduced then Strabane deserve their turn.
“It’s as good as any ground in the county and they did a superb job of hosting the All-Ireland final a few years ago and I have no doubt it’ll be the same again at the weekend”.
Having contested so many finals in recent years then did he still have the same feel for this one particularly given that it was the same two sides once more.
“It doesn’t really matter who you’re playing, the North West Senior Cup final remains one of the biggest days in Irish cricket.
“It would be impossible to get tired playing in senior finals and despite the fact we haven’t been at our best in the league we often come good in this competition.
“I don’t know why it brings out the best in us but it does. We will be trying to win this trophy for the third consecutive time, a feat that hasn’t been done in my lifetime although I’m pretty sure Donemana or Sion may have done it in the past.
That is motivation enough but whether it’s your first final or your twenty-first, Senior Cup final weekend is very special”.
For the record, play on both days gets under way at 12 noon and as always refreshments will be available inside the ground therefore no alcohol carry-outs will be permitted.
Admission is £5 (£3 concessionary) which is paid at the gate. There is also a small number of places still available at the North West corporate dinner which is being held during Friday afternoon, the cost of that is £20 for entry to the ground, dinner and wine.