All roads lead to Beechgrove tomorrow (Friday) as Donemana look to secure yet another Bank of Ireland Senior Cup success against Championship side Ballyspallen and in the process equal Clooney’s long-standing record of six-in-a-row. It has been an unbelievable run in this competition from the Tyrone side who last tasted defeat in the 2011 final against Bready and there are very few in North West cricket who don’t believe that the famous old trophy will be back in it’s usual spot on Saturday evening.
Worryingly for the Roe Valley team, Donemana are unbeaten in either league or cup so far this summer; 11 wins from 11 games to date albeit one of those was a bowl-out verdict at Eglinton in the first round. They warmed up for their big weekend with wins over Eglinton and Bready in the title race meaning they now hold every chance of recording back-to-back doubles.
To be fair, Lee Ritchie’s men have been on an impressive run themselves and currently sit top of the Championship ahead of Strabane and Newbuildings and it was clear from the holders’ camp this week that nothing will be taken for granted despite the second tier teams’ poor record in the senior cup. Not since Ardmore appeared in the 1983 decider has a team outside of the top flight made it to the final and you have to go back a full 42 years to find the last 2nd Division winners, St Johnston.
That’s the scale of the task facing ‘Spallen this weekend however Ricky-Lee Dougherty was insistent that none of that would matter one iota come Friday.
“We’ve talked about this as a squad several times since the finalists became known an I can assure you that no-one in the Donemana team is buying into all this hype. We might have won five cups in a row but we know we will have to work very hard this weekend to make it six” he began.
“If you look at Ballyspallen’s form this season you will see a team that is improving all the time and in my opinion they are one of the top six sides in the North West at the minute. Everybody seems to be writing them off but you can be sure that we will prepare for them the way we prepared to play Brigade, Coleraine or any of the other senior teams.”
“Everybody knows that if you take your eye off the ball for a second it could be very difficult to claw back the initiative and there will be no-one from here going to Beechgrove on Friday showing any complacency.”
“Obviously we’re in good form at the minute and most people make us favourites to win although we’ll be missing both Andy McBrine and Tom Riddles. Both of those are big-game players- Tom is a very dangerous attacking batsman who can take a game away from teams at the top of the order while Andy has been man-of-the-match in the final for each of the last three seasons.”
“We have quality players to come in- Jamie Huey looks likely to be in for Tom and Dwayne in for Andy while Junior will keep his place after some brilliant performances in the past few weeks.”
“I’m sure it will be a great occasion and obviously we’ll be hoping the weather is kind to us over the two days. The Bank of Ireland final is very much the highlight of our season and it remains a very special trophy for everyone at our club so I’m really hoping we can go on to equal the record.”
Posted: 3:08 pm July 27, 2017
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