It was the end of an era on Saturday as Donemana’s Jordan McGonigle called time on a glittering 26 year career in senior cricket at The Holm. The left-arm spinner bowed out on a high note as he, William McBrine and Junior McBrine – making a special appearance one week ahead of his 60th birthday – combined to bowl out champions elect Ardmore for a 139-run win.

“I just knew midway through the year that it was time to finish,” said the 41 year-old. “It was the same when I packed in the football. I could go on and play for another few years as I’m still fit enough but I’ve always been someone who gave 100% in everything and if I’m not fully committed then it wouldn’t be fair to me or the team.

“I’ve had a great career, achieving everything that I wanted, so I’ve no complaints,” he added. His roll of honour includes ten senior cup medals, six senior leagues, an Ulster Cup and an All-Ireland win. Looking back on his success, the first cup win holds a special place for him.

“Myself, Keesy and JT missed the 99 loss to Limavady, but we were all there for that victory in 2001. Gary Neely and Azhar bowled them out in the second innings cheaply. There’s just something special about the cup and to beat that amazing Limavady team of that time was incredible. I played in 11 finals only losing once – to Bready in 2011- before we went on that run of six in a row. It’s funny and probably unique that most North West cricketers prefer a cup medal to a league, but the two-day event just creates a great, memorable occasion when Donemana are involved.

“The All-Ireland win in 2000 was right up there too as it was so important for the club to win it having come close on so many times. Noel Dunn was captain and Junior got Man-of-the-Match for his runs and five catches at slip which won us the game. William Porterfield top-scored and he and Roy put on an important stand. I was in the middle with JT when we got the winning runs in the last over. An incredible feeling really.

“We always loved playing in the Irish Cup and one of my favourite and earliest memories is taking six for 32 against Rush in 1998 which got me the Man-of-the-Match award – back then when there were individual awards in every match of all the rounds.”

‘Jordy’ has no doubt who was the number one player he took the field with and equally certain of the toughest opponent too.

“Junior was just incredible to play alongside. The quality, experience and determination was second to none. Factor in the longevity over a 40 year plus senior career and you have a true legend.

“Decker Curry had left Donemana for Limavady when I started playing and it’s no surprise to see just how successful they became. He was a colossus, just so powerful and incredibly intimidating to bowl too.

“I don’t want to name too many players because undoubtedly I will omit a few and upset them. I was very fortunate to grow up and play with a great bunch of lads over the years, like JT, Aggie Riddles, Richard Kee, Dwayne, Richard Hepburn, Ted Britton and many others.”

He has no doubt that the current Donemana squad has the capability to go on and challenge for major honours in the years ahead.

“We have shown our true abilities in the last few weeks as we climbed up the table. It’s just getting our main 11 out to get the consistency needed. Throw in a quality overseas professional as well as Andy and we won’t be far away. For the first time in a while too there is a good crop of youngsters waiting in the wings so the future is certainly bright for the club.”

Like many, he does feel though the stand in the region has dropped over the years.

“Maybe it’s a thing you say when you get older but the standard has definitely dropped from when I first started. There are still some top players around, but we have seen in recent years more moving to other regions whether it be for money or to play at a better standard. Teams would still have four or five good players but you know if you get four or five wickets you can quickly run through sides whereas there was more depth and quality in years gone by.

He won nine caps back in 2001 and 2002 under Ken Rutherford and Adi Birrell, but he has no regrets that he didn’t win more as Ireland announced themselves on the world stage.

“I was so proud to win those nine caps, and I was certainly happy to get what I did. Under Adi Birrell a strong bunch of players emerged as the landscape changed. It was fantastic for them to go on but there was no real interprovincial cricket for a long time, so little opportunity to break through. No regrets though as I worked hard, did okay in the matches I played, got to wear the sweater and also played in an Under 19 World Cup.”

A remarkable career for the one-club man, who will be hard to replace at Donemana.