It's the fixture that always leaps out when the season’s schedule is published and this year it’s the only time that Brigade and Donemana will meet in the NW Premiership.

The traditional ‘Big Two’ of North West cricket meet at Beechgrove tomorrow with Brigade the team needing a win to stay in touch with the leaders at this early stage of the season. Not that Donemana will mind being the away side this year, as Brigade captain Andy Britton points out.

“We’ve got the home advantage but their record is better at our place and we are better at Donemana so hopefully that change,” he says. “Donemana are leading the league so we have to beat them to keep us going.

Britton acknowledges that Brigade have been ‘hit or miss’ so far with their latest miss coming last Saturday in the Irish Senior Cup when despite reducing Pembroke to 94 for eight, after posting a disappointing 151, they still couldn’t get over the winning line, even though they came closer than any of the North West sides to make progress.

“We need a couple of guys to fire at the top (of the order),” admits the Ireland international. “It worked at the start of the season but has fallen away recently, although Cameron Melly, our new signing has fitted in well.

“We’ve also strengthened in the bowling with a choice of six or seven front liners, including a couple of spinners. Scott Macbeth is bowling very well and Turf (Ryan Macbeth) up front. “

The danger with the bat for Donemana is lurking down at No 7 in the order – Britton’s opposite number Dwayne McGerrigle who has been rescuing his side from early troubles.

“He’s firing well,” says Britton, “the captaincy must be inspiring him and he’s getting a lot of runs. But we’ll just try and keep it tight and bowl to our strengths.”

Although it is the only (40-over) league meeting between the teams, players and spectators have to wait only two weeks for the next collision, with the teams drawn together in the quarter-finals of the Senior Cup, a competition close to Britton’s heart.

“It’s great to win the league but the Cup is always the one I want to win at the start of the season,” he says and on meeting Donemana so early, adds, “If you want to win it you have to beat the best and over the years Donemana have proven to be the cup team to beat. I’d rather get them now than in the final.”

Donemana have been let down by two proposed overseas arrivals this season but they hope it is third time lucky this week with Geeth Kumara registered to play against Brigade. He still cannot be their permanent professional, however, as he already has a club in England but his quality is well known in the North West. The Sri Lankan scored a century for Fox Lodge in last year’s Senior Cup semi-final and then took six wickets on day one of the final and his 90 not out in the second took the Foxes to an historic first Senior Cup success.

McGerrigle’s side are certain to be clear at the top with a win because Bready, the only other team to have won two Premiership games so far are not in action, their match against Ardmore has been postponed as their scheduled visitors are making the long journey to Cork for Sunday’s  Irish Cup replay,