This time 12 months ago Strabane were in relative meltdown.
Captain Tommy Barr recalls a disastrous start to the campaign, with exits from the main cup competitions coupled with struggles in the North West Premiership.
But a year on and the picture couldn’t be any more different.
Unbeaten in the league and already through to the next round of both the Irish Cup and the North West Senior Cup, the unbeaten Red Caps travel to CIYMS on Saturday as one of only two top-flight clubs in Ulster with an unbeaten record.
Barr isn’t entirely satisfied, pointing to some inconsistencies with the bat but it is a remarkably happy picture for a team boosted by the impressive pre-season captures of Johnny Robinson, Ryan Gallagher and Zimbabwean professional Tawanda Mupariwa.
“We have hit the ground running,” said Barr. “We probably could have fared a bit better on the batting front but overall we have got to be happy with how we’ve played so far.
“The bowlers have been taking wickets and have got us out of difficult situations. A few things have gone our way and the biggest win was against Donemana. We probably shouldn’t have come away from there with a win, but it was a great fightback, we showed great spirit. It didn’t look good for us but there was always a belief that if we got one or two wickets then you never know. Donemana are not the same as they were, there didn’t seem to be the same atmosphere in the ground, it was very quiet and although they get off to a good start we always felt we were in the game. We have a very good, experienced bowling attack.”
Strabane will need that attack to fire against CI and in particular their professional Rassie van der Dussen.
“It will be a tough game, with the pro, Chris Dougherty and Nathan Waller they will have plenty of runs in them,” Barr warned.
Meanwhile, Donemana got off the mark in the league on Thursday night after a crushing 183-run win over Fox Lodge at The Holm. Ricky-Lee Dougherty completed his century in a mammoth 336 for six. Dougherty had previously been unbeaten on 95 from Wednesday night, having struck eight fours and eight sixes.
His partnership of 160 with Gary McClintock (59) took the game away from the visitors after Donemana had been 175 for five.
Iftikhar Hussain top scored for Fox Lodge with 35 at the top of the order but his second-wicket stand of 50 with Brian Allen was the highest they could manage in a disappointing 153 all out.
Andy McBrine, Jordan McGonigle, Junior McBrine and William McBrine all took two wickets apiece.
Donemana 336-6 (RL Dougherty 108, K Sajjid 65, G McClintock 59 no, T Riddles 32, T Khan 2-61, A McNeill 2-65). Fox Lodge 153, 35.3 overs (I Hussain 35, T Khan 24, A McBrine 2-23, J McGonigle 2-36, J McBrine 2-15, W McBrine 2-16). Donemana won by 183 runs.