Derriaghy have breathed new life into stale Premier League

Kaushik Aphale and Craig Lewis celebrate their brilliant hundreds for Derriaghy yesterday.

Kaushik Aphale and Craig Lewis celebrate their brilliant hundreds for Derriaghy yesterday.

What a breath of fresh air Derriaghy have been during the first month of the cricket season.

I was among those predicting that the Queensway men would struggle to adapt on their return to top-flight cricket, not least because they steadfastly stuck to their guns and backed the core of home-grown, young players who won them the Section One title, at the expense of imports.

Even when their backs were firmly against the wall against Donemana on Sunday, Ricky-Lee Dougherty and Gary McClintock plundering their bowling to all parts, they stuck together, refusing to let their heads drop and athletically throwing themselves around in the field.

The NCU had become sadly predictable since the reduction to an eight-team Premier League, but Derriaghy’s shock win over CIYMS on the opening day, followed by that famous Irish Cup triumph against Donemana, was a victory for the romantics.

The team’s spirit is personified by their talented captain, Craig Lewis, the all-rounder who has resisted overtures from the big boys to stay at Queensway.

There might be tougher times ahead for Derriaghy, but whatever happens, you get the impression they will enjoy it and play the game with a smile on their face.

Challenge Cup wins by Downpatrick, over North Down, and Muckamore against Instonians, have also been like a breath of fresh air, at least if you’re not from Comber or Shaw’s Bridge.