All-Ireland cups dominate weekend programme

Lawrence Moore looks ahead to All-Ireland weekend in ISC and National cups.

It’s the annual pilgrimage for clubs up and down the country this weekend as the first round fixtures in both the Irish Senior and National cups take place on Saturday afternoon. 

There’s plenty of organising to be done, especially for those on the road, but it’s fair to say that neither competition has been particularly kind to local clubs in the past 20 years.

The now defunct Limavady were the last team from these parts to lift the Bob Kerr trophy in 2004 and since then, only Donemana (winners themselves in 2000) have made the final (in both 2008 and 2009.)

If 2023 is to be any kinder then we’re going to have to overcome what looks to be a desperately tough first round draw.

The aforementioned Donemana have started the domestic season well with three wins out of three and they’ll fancy their chances at home to Carrickfergus.

Dwayne McGerrigle’s side loves nothing more than a good scrap and this is a challenge that could easily bring out the best in them.

Ardmore have been going well too- Harry Zimmermann was in great form at the Mardyke for the Warriors at the start of the week and the Bleachgreen club will be hoping for a repeat performance as they entertain Cork County.

Tie of the round in the North West could be at Foyleview Arena where Newbuildings entertain serial winners Waringstown.

Gareth McKeegan’s men were in sensational form last weekend against senior cup debutants Letterkenny, but this is a task of a completely different variety.

They have a chance, especially at home, but things will really need to fall their way as the visitors won’t mind the good batting conditions.

Senior cup winners Fox Lodge also look up against it against 2012 and 2014 All-Ireland champions, The Hills.

Aaron Heywood’s team have been in decent form themselves but will have to keep tabs on the likes of Murray Commins and Cormac McLaughlin Gavin if they want to progress.

Three North West sides are off to Dublin for their first round matches and all of them face very strong opposition.

Much will depend on personnel available and Coleraine have drawn a bit of a short straw away at YMCA, especially if the Tector boys, Curtis Campher and Rory and Tom Anders are in tow.

Liam McCarthy and Brandon Kruger both played for Munster Reds on Monday and are expected to start for Railway Union at home to Bready. Davy Scanlon’s men do however have form at this level and if there is a surprise to come, maybe they’ll feel they can supply it.

Brigade pay a visit to 2019 winners, Pembroke in what could well be another decent contest while in the final game Eglinton take on North Down at Comber.

The villagers have shaped up well domestically so far, as have their hosts so while the NCU side start favourites, it’s no ‘gimme’.

If anything, our record in the National Cup is even worse; in fact there has never been a North West winner in the cup’s history.

There will however be at least two local representatives in Round 2 as Ballyspallen have landed a bye, and County Kerry conceded their game against St Johnston, but there should be others.

Glendermott will be fancied to get past Athlone at the Rectory although the Midlanders are something of an unknown quantity.

Strabane have started their season strongly but haven’t fared overly well with the draw here. The Red Caps face what is always a decent Rush side at Skerries but Aaron Gillespie’s team are far from out of it.

Bonds Glen have a tricky tie at North Kildare to contend with while Letterkenny have a slightly shorter journey over the Glenshane to Cregagh.

The Donegal side took a bit of a mauling at Newbuildings on their senior cup bow last weekend but will have taken positives from their fantastic start to the day which may stand them in good stead going forward.

Burndennett entertain Laois and Killyclooney, who made the final of this competition in 2014 are at home to Templepatrick. Both North West sides would certainly have chances of progressing as well.

 

Irish Senior Cup fixtures- (50 overs; 12.30 pm start)

 

YMCA v Coleraine

Railway Union v Bready

Pembroke v Brigade

North Down v Eglinton

Fox Lodge v The Hills

Donemana v Carrick

Newbuildings v Waringstown

Ardmore v Cork County

 

National Cup fixtures- (40 overs; 1.30pm start)

Rush v Strabane

North Kildare v Bonds Glen

Cregagh v Letterkenny

Burndennett v Laois

Killyclooney v Templepatrick

Glendermott v Athlone

Co. Kerry conceded to St Johnston

Ballyspallen receive a ‘bye’

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