CRICKET: Sides banking on NW Senior Cup final success

Ian Stone (Bank of Ireland) along with captains Ricky-Lee Dougherty (Donemana) and Lee Ritchie (Ballyspallen) ahead of this weekend's senior cup final.
Ian Stone (Bank of Ireland) along with captains Ricky-Lee Dougherty (Donemana) and Lee Ritchie (Ballyspallen) ahead of this weekend's senior cup final.

In-form Donemana aim to make it six Bank of Ireland NW Senior Cup wins in a row when they face Ballyspallen in this weekend’s final, which gets underway at 12noon, at Beechgrove, on Friday.

The Holm men will go into the showdown as massive favourites against the Championship men, but skipper Ricky Lee Dougherty isn’t taking anything for granted.

“Everyone can say that we are favourites but everyone in our dressing room are going into the final preparing as if we are playing the best team in the world,” he insisted.

“If we lose the Senior Cup final, they are going to beat us fair and square and they’ll fully deserve it, because there isn’t going to be any complacency whatsoever.”

Donemana come into the final in super form having had two impressive wins over Eglinton and Bready at the weekend and Dougherty hopes that form continues this weekend.

“We are unbeaten in the league and obviously, the Senior Cup; there’s a good team spirit this year, we are playing hard and everyone just can’t wait for the weekend now.”

We’re determined not just to make up the numbers

Lee Ritchie

Donemana will be without Irish international Andy McBrine but his father Junior has been in sparkling form.

On Sunday, he finished with 5-20 and also made another stunning slip catch in their win over Bready, but it’s his experience which is also helping Dougherty this season.

“Junior pulled me out one week and he hasn’t got out of the team since,” he added.

“But his bowling is second to none and even his slip catches are unreal, he has taken two unbelievable catches in recent weeks, but it’s not just his bowling and catching, it’s his all-round game.

“If you need a bit of advice you just chat to Junior, he has been there and done that hundreds of times and it’s great to have him in the team.”

The wicket-keeper concedes that Donemana six in a row has a nice ring to it.

“Six in a row does sound nice, but we’ll start talking about six in a row after the final if we win it,” he insisted.

“We don’t get bored winning the Senior Cup and hopefully after this weekend we’ll be talking about trying to win seven in a row.”

There is little doubt that Lee Ritchie is finding out this week that captaining a team in the senior cup final can be a busy affair.

The Ballyspallen skipper has been answering his phone pretty regularly to the various press and media folk over the past few days but can soon turn his attentions to Friday’s business at hand.

Ritchie’s men are probably one of the biggest underdogs in the history of the North West showpiece but despite missing his talisman Graham Kennedy for the game he insists that his side can’t wait to get started.

“We’re in really good form at the minute and that breeds a bit of confidence in the camp,” he stated.

“Yes, Donemana is a completely different type of opposition than anything we have faced so far and yes Graham is a huge loss, but I really want our boys to enjoy the occasion.

“We need to compete on some level and if we do that who knows? I never thought for one minute at the start of the season that we’d be preparing for a senior cup final but now that we’re in it we’re determined not just to make up the numbers.

“We have plenty of experience in our side and the players are in pretty good form at the minute so yes, why wouldn’t we compete.

“I’m not really sure you can plan to attack a side of that quality so what we have to do is get our basics right and take our chances when they come - whether with the bat or ball.

“There should be a decent crowd at Beechgrove and it should be a good atmosphere. We never know when we might be in this situation again so the plan will be to express ourselves and enjoy the wonderful occasion.”