Coleraine captain David Cooke has described the club’s North West Premiership title victory as one of the sweetest moments he has ever experienced in cricket.
The former Ireland international has won a litany of previous trophies with Brigade and Limavady, but he ranks Sunday night’s historic achievement for Coleraine as as good as the first title he ever won.
The Bannsiders secured the crown in stunning fashion by beating nearest rivals Brigade twice in the space of two enthralling days.
Sunday night’s 114-run win in front of a big crowd at Sandel Lodge was as routine a triumph as they come, in contrast to a stunning triumph inspired by Jarred Barnes in a low-scoring game at Beechgrove the previous day.
Cooke said: “We out-batted Brigade today, but when I saw that pitch at Beechgrove yesterday I wondered how were were going to get through the day.
“I said to the Brigade guys that 90 would win the game and they laughed at me. I said on the radio that it was a disgraceful pitch, it wasn’t suitable for a match between two potential champions, and I stand by that.
“Gordon (Cooke) batted brilliantly to go through almost the entire innings for 25, and the conditions played into our hands.
“Jarred was unplayable and I knew we had enough runs with 120.”
Cooke had downplayed his club’s title chances earlier in the summer, but after overcoming a mid-season blip, they have surged away from the other challengers.
However, the experience and leadership of the Cooke brothers was probably the decisive factor.
“As we showed in the Ulster Cup final against Waringstown we never give up,” said Cooke.
“Experience was key, Gordon and I as captain and vice-captain have won leagues and cups before and that was important.”