Brigade and Newbuildings ready for senior cup shoot-out

It’s the North West’s showpiece weekend up next, and weather permitting, we should have a fantastic spectacle to look forward to as Brigade and Newbuildings lock horns at Eglinton over the two days.

There has been a lot of rain in the run-up to the final and there are plenty of permutations to factor in should the weather play a part, and we’ll maybe look at the key points of that in due course.

The two combatants are really evenly matched in terms of personnel and both have any amount of match-winners in their respective line-ups.

Iftikhar Hussain hasn’t lost an ounce of his influence in the last few seasons and has been huge for the Beechgrove team as they head into the home straight still in the mix for three domestic trophies.

David Barr started the season a little more slowly than usual but he too has moved through the gears and his ability to bat long will be a concern to Newbuildings.

Adam McDaid, Scott Macbeth and Cameron Melly make up a quality top five- any of whom could easily lay a marker down on this final and that’s without factoring in skipper Andy Britton and Ryan Macbeth, another pair of potential game-changers.

Mind you, Newbuildings aren’t behind the door in that regard either.

Gareth McKeegan has three cup winners medals in his locker and is also on the list of players to have made a cup final century and finished on the losing side.

Johnny Thompson is definitely a player who could turn a match on its head in an hour and as another former Beechgrove boy, ‘JT’ will want to go out with a bang in what he insists will be his last cup final.

Throw in a host of really attacking players at the top of the order- Ryan Hunter, Ross Dougherty, Jason Dunn and Mark Hannah- as well as Hanu Viljoen who has really hit his straps in the second half of the season- and this could be a mouth-watering clash.

The bowlers will obviously have a big say as well- Newbuildings with the newly added Gregory McFaul joining Trent McKeegan, Ross Hunter, Charlie Downey and ‘Bull’ in their corner.

Brigade aren’t light either- far from it- with Ryan Macbeth, Ryan Barr, Jamie Millar, and skipper Britton ably assisted by Melly, Scott Macbeth, David Barr and of course ‘Ifti’- giving them some serious options in attack.

There are plenty of ironies to consider too; not least the fact that Newbuildings captain McKeegan has played in seven senior cup finals so far- six of them with this weekend’s opponents.

The ‘keeper/batsman is one of the most affable players in the game here and while there will be no quarter asked or given this weekend, the two skippers are clearly very good friends.

When asked for their thoughts on this weekend’s showpiece, both had a fairly similar insight.

Brigade skipper Britton said he felt consistency would be the key over the two days.

“I said at the start of the season that the league is a trophy that we all want to win and the T20 gives us a great chance to go for an All-Ireland title, but the senior cup was top of my personal list.

“The two-innings final and the buzz around the club is just something you never tire of and now that we’ve got there, we’re thinking of nothing other than trying to win it.

“Of course it’ll be the same for Gareth and his team- some of my best mates will be in the opposite changing room but neither of us will be thinking about that as we have a cup to win.

“It’ll be the same for them and I know it’s going to be a tough match because I know the type of players they have.

“I just think consistency will be the most important thing as long as the weather plays ball. Sticking to your plan and trusting the players to do the things they’re in the team for, and that they’ve proved many times they’re good at it.

“I honestly think if we play the way we can over the two days we’ve a brilliant chance of winning it.

His Newbuildings counterpart was thinking mostly along the same lines when asked if last year’s defeat to Fox Lodge would give them additional motivation on Friday morning.

“I don’t think it will motivate us any more because everyone is up for a senior cup final, but what I do think is that we have to learn from our mistakes from last year.

“Don’t get me wrong, Fox Lodge deserved to win but we made mistakes and they took advantage of them.

“The experience of losing last year can make us more determined but I think skills and discipline will win the final.

“Both teams have plenty of quality with bat and ball and we have to stick to our jobs- but mistakes in the field and dropped catches in particular can be critical.

“When there is so little between the teams it is those margins that make the difference. We gave that away last year and we have to be better this time.

“If we get our disciplines right then there’s absolutely no reason why we can’t win it.”

Action gets underway at 11am on Friday and while as stated earlier, there are many different permutations for play, the basic premise is that the teams have three days (Sunday is the reserve) to get a result.

DLS will be used to decide the outcome if and when it comes into play in the third and fourth innings but that is all at the sole discretion of the umpires.

If no play at all is possible on Friday, the game automatically becomes a one-innings contest on Saturday (and Sunday if needed).

A free car parking facility has been secured at St Canice’s Park at the far end of the ground but no parking will be available in the club car park.

Refreshments will be available inside the ground and no alcohol carry-outs are permitted.

Stewards will be on duty on both days and spectators are asked to follow any advice given so that the final can be enjoyed as a family occasion.

Admission to the ground for the day is £5 (£3 concessionary).

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