NORTH WEST CLUBS FACING TOUGH SENIOR CUP PROGRAMME
Limavady was the last North West side to lift the trophy way back in 2004, ironically beating fellow regionals Strabane in the decider and it has now been ten years since any from the Union made the final when Donemana lost to North County.
Looking at this weekend’s fixtures, you suspect that local sides will have to pull out something special if they are to buck the trend. League leaders Bready entertain a CSNI outfit that boasts several quality names, including Graham McCarter who although now residing in Scotland, travels across for games.
Andre Malan is the Belfast side’s professional this year and has already shown enough to suggest he will pose a significant threat.
Bready’s strength is in their bowling unit, and skipper Davy Scanlon will be hoping that they can keep their excellent start to the season going with a surprise win.
Game of the round could well be at Castle Avenue where Brigade put their unbeaten start on the line at Clontarf.
The Waterside outfit looks quite robust this year, and an abundance of all-round options headed by Iftikhar Hussain and Johnny Thompson means that ‘Tarf can take nothing for granted especially given their own in and out start.
Obus Pienaar will be known to many after his time in the NCU while Brigade’s batsmen will have heard plenty about the home side’s paceman David Delany.
It’s an exciting tie and one that Andy Britton’s team is far from out of.
Donemana has a home tie against the competition’s in-form team to negotiate. Ricky-Lee Dougherty’s men have made a poor start to their domestic season, but they love nothing more than turning it on when it comes to the cups.
They will, of course, have to go some to get the better of a Merrion team that has contested no fewer than five of the last eight finals.
The Southerners won two of those, including the 2016 decider and despite all of Donemana’s quality and battling spirit they will need to be at their absolute best to win this.
Elsewhere, Coleraine travels to face a lively Carrick side in a game where both teams boast quality overseas players in their ranks- Pat Botha for the home side and Graham Hume for the Bannsiders.
Eglinton wouldn’t be without a chance at home to Leinster- especially if bang in-form Stuart Thompson brings his Test match form into the game.
Fox Lodge look up against it at home to North Down, but despite being drawn away, Ardmore and Strabane wouldn’t be without hope at Phoenix and Cork County respectively.
Cork plan to go ahead with their game at the Mardyke despite the fact that Munster Reds T20 Interprovincial game against Leinster Lightning scheduled for this evening (Friday) has already been moved to Pembroke because the ground wasn’t ready.