Richard Kee admits it’s now or never for Donemana’s North West Premiership title hopes.
All but out of the race after a double defeat to Brigade and Strabane a fortnight ago, the Senior Cup winners were handed a reprieve last weekend, leaders Coleraine and second-placed Brigade both slipping to surprise defeats.
“Going into two week ago, if we have won those we would have been joint top with three games to go,” said Kee. “Those defeats seemed to put us way out of it but now we’re back in it again. Now, if we win our last three games the worst we can do is a play-off. It’s given us a lifeline and it’s great because there’s nothing worse than your last four or five matches if you’ve nothing to play for.”
Kee’s great wish is that Donemana can finally transfer their brilliant Senior Cup form into league matches. His message to his young team is treat the last three matches as cup finals.
“If the boys treat it like a cup match on Saturday I’m sure we will be alright,” he said. “It’s been the same thing we have suffered from in the last two or three years, maybe boys not raising their game for certain matches. It’s cost us. But we have a lifeline now and we have make the most of it.”
Donemana will have to do it without professional Jan Frylinck, who has returned home to South Africa. That puts Kee’s team at a disadvantage, with Coleraine pro Kylinn Vardhan still in the country.
Kee admits Frylinck will be a big miss with the ball.
“He had a pretty good season. He is top wicket-taker in the league with 45-46 wickets and his century last week took him over 500 runs. That’s a good season for him in this first year. We will definitely miss him, his bowling more than anything. We are not overly dependent on him getting runs because there are others there very capable.”
Donemana can at least draw encouragement from their strong recent record at Sandel Lodge. Since Kee and Andy McBrine produced a match-winning stand in the Senior Cup semi-final there in 2013, it has been a lucky ground.
“We have a really good record there recently. We chased well there in that cup semi-final two years ago and in the league we have had a good run there too,” he added.
“But if we lose on Saturday that’s definitely us out of it. We have a game in hand and if we win on Saturday and win the game in hand, it puts us right in it. It’s a must-win for us.”
Brigade face a stiff test if they want to avoid another defeat because relegation-threatened Bready will be no pushovers at Magheramason. St Johnston simply have to win at Ardmore if they are retain any hope of avoiding the drop.