Donemana stroll into final

North Down's James Cameron-Dow bowls
North Down's James Cameron-Dow bowls

Donemana’s love affair with the Danske Bank North West Senior Cup is fast becoming a marriage.

Saturday’s semi-final win over Coleraine at The Holm, which came on a day when no other result ever felt possible such was Donemana’s dominance, secured a fourth consecutive final appearance.

They have reached five of the last six two-day finals and for that record alone this young team, carving out an enviable record as cup specialists, will surely start as favourites against Brigade next month.

While their league form has been erratic, Donemana have few peers when it comes to knockout competitions and even when Coleraine reached 70 without loss batting first, there was an unyielding confidence about the home team, as well as a fragility about the reigning league champions.

Niall McDonnell, the Coleraine opener, briefly offered them hope, waiting until a delivery was unequivocally too short or too full before going on the offensive. He struck seven fours and two sixes as he reached 49 from just 46 balls but on a dry pitch offering considerable assistance to Donemana’s spin-dominated attack, you could not take liberties.

Jordan McGonigle, the slow left-armer, was introduced in the 13th over and McDonnell pushed forward too far in front of his pad and the finest of edges was held by Ricky-Lee Dougherty.

Dougherty, back despite the heroics of his father Richard in the Ulster Cup win over Lisburn, produced a wicketkeeping masterclass. Some observers believe he is the best North West wicketkeeper standing up to the stumps since the legendary Ossie Colhoun and there was evidence to support that claim.

From the very next delivery, the first ball of the 14th over, Scott Campbell had left his ground by the tiniest of fractions and Dougherty whipped off the bails. Coleraine, seemingly cruising on 70 without loss, were suddenly 70 for two, and the spectre of Dougherty behind the stumps loomed large in their minds, such was the reluctance of a succession of batsmen to show any initiative against the spinners.

Johnny Ring made eight from 37 balls while neither of the Cooke brothers could manage even a run every other ball. Kylinn Vardhan, the South African professional, reached 32 without looking entirely comfortable before he became the second, and arguably the best, of three Dougherty stumping victims.

William McBrine was the bowler and the young off-spinner conceded just 13 runs in 10 overs, with just five runs having come in his first six as Coleraine retreated into their shell and limped to 175 all out, Kamran Sajid cleaning up the tail with 4-35.

That total wasn’t entirely out of the game given that Donemana had failed to chase 188 here against Strabane and at 52 for three, Coleraine had the faintest scent of an upset. But Andy McBrine, a streaky boundary through the gully area from his first delivery notwithstanding, was in imperious form.

The Ireland international added 78 undefeated runs with his father Junior (28 no), all at a sedate pace in the warm sunshine until the 31st over when the left-hander tucked into Campbell, a straight six followed by consecutive fours bringing up his half-century.

By the inevitable end, Andy had struck an unbeaten 65 from 68 balls, including eight fours and four sixes,