Cup semi-finals dominate weekend programme

Players and officials will be hoping the weather holds this coming weekend with no fewer than 20 senior matches down for decision between Thursday and Sunday.

No doubt that the big attraction will be Sunday’s Sports Hub senior cup and Sam Jeffrey semi-finals, but e get underway on Thursday night with the final round of group games in the White Horse T20 Cups with still some business to be settled.

In Group A, Newbuildings host Bready with the visitors needing a win to finish top of the group. Any other result would see Gareth McKeegan’s team into the Faughan Valley Cup semi-finals, while Ballyspallen would need a huge win at St Johnston to pip the Donegal side to a place in the Sperrin Springs semi-finals.

Group B is pretty much done and dusted with Brigade entertaining neighbours Glendermott with first place in the group already in the bag. Bonds Glen will keep second place regardless of what happens in their game at home to a Coleraine side still searching for their first victory in the competition.

It’s a similar story in Group C; Ardmore who have the only perfect record in all four sections, host Eglinton, who have already secured second place.┬áStrabane make the short trip to Burndennett with the visitors warm favourites to finish third.

There’s a bit of a conundrum in Group D; Fox Lodge currently three points ahead of Donemana despite the Foxes losing twice in their previous five while Donemana are unbeaten, but with two washouts.

Those two are set to lock horns at the Holm to decide top spot while Killyclooney will finish third ahead of their home game against The Nedd.

On Saturday we’re on to Week 6 of the league schedule and there’s a standing dish for game of the day as leaders Donemana host second placed Brigade in a mouth-watering clash.

The Holm side have looked a different beast this season so far, and no doubt the availability of Andy McBrine has been of huge significance in that. The Ireland International does what all good players do, and brings out the best in those around him, and bar their Irish Senior Cup exit, Donemana have looked the team to beat.

The acid test in the North West at present is Brigade and Andy Britton will be determined to leap-frog his boyhood club when they clash on Saturday. No doubt Eglinton and Newbuildings will also have their eyes fixed on a cup final date as well, but this could potentially be a dress rehearsal for next month’s decider.

Elsewhere in Section 1, a slightly out-of-sorts Bready face another tricky afternoon as they take on Coleraine at Magheramason. Both sides have had their issues in the middle and lower order this season and both will feel this is a game they can win if they bat well.

Champions Ardmore haven’t had a perfect start to their title defence either and they go to an improving Eglinton in another very difficult game to call. The villagers have been reliant on Jamie and Andy Millar as well as Lahiru Dilshan for their runs while Mark Averill has been a massive part of their recent upturn in fortunes.

In Rachit Gaur, the Bleachgreen side boast one of the region’s most consistent performers over the past couple of seasons while Harry Zimmermann, Hayden Melly and Ciaran Roundtree are others worth watching.

In the final game, Newbuildings will look to get their challenge back on track at home to a Killyclooney side that can’t buy a league win for love nor money.

Section 2 leaders St Johnston should be able to confirm their position at the top against The Nedd at the other end of the table while Strabane won’t be taking anything for granted when neighbours Burndennett arrive at the Park.

Bonds Glen have made a decent fist of their season so far but they’ll have to keep a few in-form Ballyspallen players in check if they want to get the points here. Graham Kennedy, Tevyn Walcott and James Cusack have all made their mark in recent weeks for the Roe Valley club so this is much closer than it looks on bare form.

Fox Lodge and Glendermott will be looking to put defeats behind them when they lock horns at Ballymagorry.

And then on to Sunday’s big show which sees Donemana entertain Eglinton and Brigade travel to Newbuildings with Sports Hub senior cup places up for grabs next month.

The Holm men will be favourites against the villagers, there’s little doubt about that, because this competition in particular usually brings out the best in them. That’s not to say Jamie Millar’s men are out of it of course- they have plenty of players who will fancy this on Sunday.

Newbuidings have a league win in the bag over Brigade this month already and these sides are so well matched. Former Brigade boy Jonny Thompson came out of retirement to play in the first two rounds of the cup and few will be surprised if he lines up again for duty this weekend.

Those fine margins could be the difference and Newbuildings will feel they have a real shot at this, especially at home.

In the Sam Jeffrey, form points to St Johnston as favourites when they entertain Burndennett. The Donegal side has been in top form this season and accounted for Conan Pollock’s side just last Saturday in the league. Semi-finals can often be strange affairs of course but the Saints look the safest bet here.

The other half of the draw looks a tough call- Strabane and Bonds Glen currently occupying second and third places in the league table, separated by just two points. Both sides are littered with potential match-winners too and any of them could sway it as both look to reach the two-innings final.

 

This weekend’s fixtures-

White Horse Hotel

 

 

Thursday

White Horse T20 Cup (6.30 starts)

St Johnston v Ballyspallen

Newbuildings v Bready

Brigade v Glendermott

Bonds Glen v Coleraine

Ardmore v Eglinton

Burndennett v Strabane

Killyclooney v The Nedd

Donemana v Fox Lodge

 

Saturday

Long’s SuperValu Premiership Section 1 (12 noon)

Bready v Coleraine

Newbuildings v Killyclooney

Donemana v Brigade

Eglinton v Ardmore

Section 2

Bonds Glen v Ballyspallen

Fox Lodge v Glendermott

St Johnston v The Nedd

Strabane v Burndennett

 

 

Sunday

Sports Hub Senior Cup semi-finals (11am)

Donemana v Eglinton

Newbuildings v Brigade

 

Sam Jeffrey Shield (11am)

St Johnston v Burndennett

Strabane v Bonds Glen

 

 

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