The North West Cricket Union has confirmed that Niall McDonnell will be the Assistant Coach to Ian McGregor ahead of the Warriors’ new season of Interprovincial cricket.
The Coleraine batsman played a major role on the field in the first couple of seasons under Bobby Rao and was the new Head Coach’s automatic choice to be his wing-man for a challenging summer ahead.
McDonnell was only too happy to return to the fold and paid tribute to both men as he looked forward to his new role.
“Bob did a fantastic job throughout his time in the North West. He is a superb one-to-one coach while ‘McGregs’ man management skills are second to none,” he said.
“Ian has been my ‘go to” man for some time and we have built up a great relationship working with the under-17’s and under-19’s.
“I had wrestled with time committment issues for the next few seasins over the winter but Coleraine talked to me about the playing side of things and we were able to come to a compromise.
“When the offer to work with the Warriors again came up I needed to speak with both my good wife and the Headmaster at the school and thankfully both were very supportive.
“The new committment will however mean handing over the North West under-17 coaching role at this point.
“Fortunately there are a host of really good coaches available, any of whom would welcome the chance to work with another top man in John Semple.”
Looking ahead however, McDonnell said he was excited by the prosoect of working with a talented squad of players, which now features three Ireland internationals.
“I’m looking forward to being involved again in what is a really spirited dressing room,” he added.
“Andy McBrine; Craig Young and Stuart Thompson are currently typifying the opportunities that are available to players who are prepared to put in the hard yards.
“They used the Warriors as a springboard to further their careers at the top level and that same opportunity is available to the whole squad.
“It will be a tough road ahead and with both Lightning and the Knights expected to improve again in 2016 we must be ready for the challenge.
“We started on the bottom rung of the Interprovincial ladder in 2013 and we had many serbacks before reaching a stage where we can now compete on a regular basis.
“I expect that will remain our focus this summer and in the years ahead.
“To borrow a sentiment used in Ulster rugby circles- “How we win shows much of our quality. How we lose shows all of it.”