Rachit relishing senior title defence

Ardmore claimed the North West senior title for the first time in their 144-year history just over a week ago and the scenes and partying that followed their success were certainly befitting of the occasion.

The trophy was the star attraction in Peadar O’Donnell’s bar in the city centre after last weekend’s win over Fox Lodge, with the bar’s owners confirming that they definitely hadn’t hosted the Long’s SuperValu trophy (which they duly filled) in any of the intervening 143 years!

The outpouring of emotion at the Bleachgreen as Harry Zimmermann pouched the all-important catch showed just what the title of North West senior champions meant to the club.

This is a village whose football and GAA clubs have been driven by success in the last few decades, however apart from winning the North West senior cup for the one and only time in their history in 1994, days like this have been few and far between for the cricketers.

There are probably several reasons behind Ardmore’s success this season; new overseas man Aviwe Mgijima went about his work quietly but effectively with almost 400 runs and 27 wickets for his campaign.

Zimmermann went over 500 runs for the season, as did the very impressive Dharm Singh who complimented his tally with a superb haul of 37 wickets across all competitions.

Singh came to Ardmore having spent time playing in Leinster and it was his former Railway Union team-mate, Rachit Gaur, who fittingly stepped up to receive the league trophy from NW President, and life-long Ardmore member, Connie McAllister.

Rachit had spells at both Strabane and Brigade before landing at the ‘Green ahead of the 2022 campaign and it is clear that his club-mates have been hugely impressed by his debut season as skipper.

For his part, the says he feels completely at home in his new surroundings.

“I really love playing there and it was a special experience knowing that it was the first time that Ardmore had won the league in over 140 years.

“It was obviously a collective effort from everyone- the boys all played their part brilliantly and a lot of credit also goes to all the people who help run the club.”

Asked when he really knew his side were in a title battle, Rachit admitted the win at Brigade was a huge turning point.

“Managing to get over the line at Beechgrove was massive. Brigade are the benchmark in my opinion and we spoke after we won there that we were right in with a chance of going on and winning the league.

“I think that gave us the confidence and belief going into the second half of the season.”

Turning to last Sunday, the Ardmore skipper admitted it was a relief to get the last couple of wickets in the nick of time.

“I always felt we were in the game and even when Jason (Milligan) was in and playing really well, it always felt like a one-wicket match. Of course I didn’t want it to get as close as it did, but that probably made it even better for our supporters.

“In all honesty I was more annoyed on the Saturday- I barely slept on Saturday night after we never even managed to get a bonus point at Donemana.

“It was really disappointing with so much at stake and we could have taken a bit of pressure off ourselves for Sunday, but thankfully it didn’t matter in the end.”

So what next for Rachit, and indeed the new champions as a whole?

“Well, the club will pick their captain for next year at the AGM as usual. If they want me to do it I’ll be happy to, but if they have someone else in mind then that’s fine too.

“I enjoyed being skipper and it really focused my attention on my own game. I think that helped me a lot throughout the season.

“The important thing now is that we kick on next year. The new Premier League will be really competitive but having celebrated our win, we’re already thinking about pre-season.

“We can’t be happy just because of this season; we have to use this experience to make sure it’s not another lifetime before we do it again.”

No doubt there are plenty of folk at Ardmore who won’t disagree with that.

 

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