Donemana’s Andy McBrine shines in North West Cup Final

The Donemana team who were the winners of the Danske Bank North West Senior Cup at Eglinton on Sunday
The Donemana team who were the winners of the Danske Bank North West Senior Cup at Eglinton on Sunday

When Andy McBrine danced down the pitch to his Ireland team-mate Stuart Thompson on Sunday and lofted him high over long-on for six, it was almost as if McBrine was sending a message to the international selectors.

The Donemana all-rounder struck the cup final winning runs shortly after that maximum, caressing successive boundaries in style through the covers, and everything about the unbeaten 65 from 69 balls underlined the 22-year-old’s class and his relish for the big stage.

He also emphasised the absurdity of Ireland’s selection policy for the bungling recent World Twenty20 Qualifying campaign. McBrine was making his point to John Bracewell and co on the biggest platform in North West cricket and against an excellent opening Eglinton attack of Oraine Williams and Thompson.

He had made a mockery of a tricky situation. The momentum had been lurching towards Eglinton in the second innings, first as the admirably dogged Richard Wylie hit an unbeaten 62 in a thrilling 80-run stand for the ninth wicket with Simon Olphert to set Donemana 117 to win.

Donemana, who had enjoyed a sizeable 65-run first innings lead, then lost three wickets with the score on eight, Thompson striking twice in the same over to remove Tom Riddles and Kyle Dougherty and Williams having William McClintock caught behind the wicket as he flashed outside off-stump.

McBrine though relishes such situations. After all it was on this very ground two years ago that he hit an unbeaten 55 to help Donemana crown one of the great cup final comebacks against Brigade.

He eased the nerves by timing the ball exquisitely almost from the first delivery he faced and the 79-run partnership for the fourth wicket with Gary McClintock (37) effectively ended the final as a contest.

In all McBrine struck nine fours and that stunning maximum off Thompson (3-39) and McBrine’s superiority over his Ireland colleague was key to the outcome.

Eglinton captain Chris Pierce had talked pre-match about the need for Thompson and West Indian Williams to make significant contributions during the course of the final, and the pair were largely excellent with the ball.

But the harsh reality was that as Eglinton first were dismissed for 114 in their first innings on Saturday, and then reduced to 101 for eight in blameless conditions yesterday morning, Williams and Thompson managed just 29 runs between them in four innings.

Williams’ second-innings decision was one to forget, but there was probably more sympathy for Thompson, who decided to fight fire with fire as wickets clattered around him and he was caught behind off professional Jan Frylinck (3-25).

But Wylie, the veteran all-rounder, demonstrated that there were no demons in this pitch. When he came to the crease, far too low at number nine, Eglinton were 83 for seven, just 18 runs ahead but he struck nine boundaries in his unbeaten 62 from 72 balls.

Eglinton were gallant losers but there was to be no denying Donemana.