Action-packed weekend ahead in league and cup
Hopefully the weather will remain reasonably kind this weekend ahead of what is a jam-packed programme of domestic cricket across the North West. Three competitions in all are featured- the Sperrin Springs T20 final on Friday night; the start of the Premier and Championship groups on Saturday followed by the quarter finals of the Senior Cup on Sunday.
Burndennett will host the first of those games on Friday evening at 6.30 as Killyclooney and St Johnston meet in the Sperrin Springs decider. On form the Donegal side would have the edge- ‘Clooney’s impressive win over Coleraine in the semi-final was in fact their first senior victory in any competition this season. Little doubt either however that the Sperrin Springs trophy, presented by the Moan family some years ago, could well bring a little bit extra out of the Tyrone side on Friday night.
The Saints have really taken the eye at times this year- really solid with the ball and with Michael Rankin, David Lapsley and pretty much all the Macbeth boys at one time or another among the runs. This looks a cracking game to start an eagerly anticipated weekend and if it turns out to be even half as good as last Sunday’s Faughan Valley it should be some cup tie.
Attention turns to the new league groups on Saturday and with only a handful of games to launch a title challenge, there isn’t much margin for error. The game between Brigade and Newbuildings looks the pick of the fixtures although Donemana v Ardmore isn’t far behind. The Beechgrove side needs to win all four of their group games to give themselves any chance while the winners of the game at the Holm will put themselves right in the mix.
Bready finished the first round of games in pole position and will be favourites against Coleraine while Eglinton might be strong enough to get past Fox Lodge in the Premier Division’s other game.
The trio of Championship matches look very difficult to call with Strabane against Ballyspallen probably the pick. Glendermott will hope to build on their win over Brigade when the travel to Burndennett, however the home side have been playing well of late themselves. Much could depend on who celebrated hardest after Friday night’s Sperrin Springs final when St Johnston travel to Killyclooney on Saturday.
Last, but certainly not least, we move on to the senior cup on Sunday and what a quartet of games to finish the weekend. Newbuildings had plenty to spare over Donemana last weekend but are likely to find the visitors much less accommodating in this competition. There is nothing between them in all honesty and the toss could be really important here.
Ardmore v Brigade looks another cracker and on current form it would be no exaggeration to suggest that the Bleachgreen side are favourites. If their big players turn up, this will be a belter of a game but we’ve learned that as with Donemana, you never rule Brigade out of the cup.
Without wishing to be in any way disrespectful, Bready and Eglinton would be hot favourites to see off Ballyspallen and Bonds Glen respectively, especially with home advantage. Both sides have already sprung surprises this season however- the Bee Gees beating Coleraine twice and ‘Spallen winning at Donemana. Might be wiser to say nothing and just watch…
Weekend fixtures in full-
Friday (6.30 pm, at Burndennett)
Sperrin Springs Cup final
Killyclooney v St Johnston
Saturday (12 noon starts)
Long’s SuperValu Premier
Donemana v Ardmore
Fox Lodge v Eglinton
Bready v Coleraine
Brigade v Newbuildings
Strabane v Ballyspallen
Killyclooney v St Johnston
Burndennett v Glendermott
Sunday (11am starts)
North West Senior Cup quarter-finals
Ardmore v Brigade
Bready v Ballyspallen
Eglinton v Bonds Glen
Newbuildings v Donemana