Local sides eye improved showing in Irish Cup competitions

Local clubs will be hoping to restore some pride this weekend as the first round ties in both the Irish Senior and National Cup competitions take centre stage on Saturday afternoon.

The North West drew a blank at the same stage of the Bob Kerr trophy in 2023 and things generally have been well below par in the country’s main cup competition over the past decade or more.

While hopes have to be high that there won’t be a repeat of that showing this weekend, there is little doubt either that the majority of North West teams are once again cast in the ‘underdog’ role.

Four of our Section 1 teams are on the road, starting with former All-Ireland champions Donemana who go to Merrion; champions themselves in 2010 and 2016.

The home side are captained by Leinster Lightning’s Sam Harbinson and also have Jon Anderson, Peter Francis and NW Warriors player Stephen Doheny among their ‘ones to watch’.

You can just never write Donemana off in cup cricket and while this would be a different challenge had they been drawn at home, I’d be loathe to go against the visitors.

Coleraine are also in Dublin and while their trip to Pembroke is slightly easier due to Ireland’s ongoing T20 series against Pakistan, this still looks a big ask.

Granted, there’s no Andrew Balbirnie, Harry Tector, Lorcan Tucker or Barry McCarthy to worry about, but there’s still Jack and Tim from the same house as well as JJ Garth, Paul Lawson and Australian overseas player Nick Stapleton to contend with.

Coleraine are no back number this year- Scott Campbell, Marcus Poskitt and Matthew Smyth certainly have runs in them at the top of the order while Lee Ritchie and Craig Averill will add good depth and experience.

We have to wait and see what their overseas situation is however this would be some pull from the north coast side if they were to come through.

Newbuildings and Eglinton go to CSNI and Instonians respectively and here again, both away sides will have to be at their very best to get themselves into the hat for Round 2.

Stuart Thompson captains a fairly youthful Civil Service outfit and while there is plenty of talent in the group, there was (at the time of writing) no confirmed overseas man either.

Newbuildings have recovered well from their opening day defeat and in Samarth Seth, look to have come up with a quality professional.

Ryan Hunter, Gareth McKeegan, Jason Dunn, Ross Dougherty and the returning Johnny Thompson give their top order a really solid look while Trent McKeegan, Gregory McFaul and Ross Hunter are well capable of causing the hosts plenty of problems in attack.

While it’s a tough draw, the North West side is more than capable of winning this one.

Eglinton’s job looks more difficult as they go into the NCU champions’ back yard.

Nikolai Smith’s team has several big game players including the skipper and the wily Andrew White and on home soil, they start favourites.

The villagers though have good options of their own- Liam Doherty, Jamie Millar and Lahiru Dilshan among a top order of players who like to hit the ball hard.

They’re by no means out of it, but it’ll need something special from Millar’s men to progress.

Ardmore entertain a North Down side that will be missing Paul Stirling and Craig Young, but still includes James Shannon, Alistair Shields, Ani Chore and highly regarded South African pace bowler, Kerwin Mungroo.

The North West champions haven’t quite found their range just yet but Rachit Gaur, Dharm Singh, Harry Zimmermann and company are well in this one.

Brigade will probably feel they can progress at home to Woodvale; however the visitors carry a potent threat in the form of Northern Knights batsman Ruhan Pretorius.

The South African has been in excellent form of late and with players like Ludwig Kaestner and New Zealander Ronan Restieaux also in the travelling party, the hosts will need to be on their mettle.

Andy Britton’s team relish these type of occasions and the skipper is confident that he has the strength and depth in his own side to go through.

Cameron Melly’s recent form will be a boost to Brigade and with a top order including David Barr, Iftikhar Hussain, Adam McDaid and Marcello Piedt they have an obvious chance.

Killyclooney entertain Clontarf and the home side looks bang up against it facing Eoghan Delany’s side. The Dubliners have a decent record in the competition and should have too much firepower for the Ballyheather Road lads.

Phoenix will be missing George Dockrell for their trip to Bready but the visitors still have players like Shane Getkate, Tyrone Kane, Adam Chester and Amish Sidhu who can cause plenty of problems.

Ian Young’s side have started their domestic campaign well and are nobody’s mugs themselves.

Kyle Magee’s recent century will give him plenty of confidence and the Magheramason men have enough quality of their own to make this a decent contest.

There are several sides in the National Cup this season that we don’t know an awful lot about; The Nedd taking on Belfast CC, St Johnston entertaining Wexford Wanderers and Ballyspallen travelling to University of Galway among them.

To be fair, ‘Spallen have started reasonably well and have a few players in their ranks likely to cause Galway problems. By all accounts they were unlucky to go out of the NW senior cup last weekend and hopefully they can gain compensation here.

Former finalists Terenure entertain Glendermott in what could be the game of the round with both teams boasting several match-winners in their ranks.

Fox Lodge go to Ballymena, and among the players Aaron Heywood’s side will have to keep a close eye on is John Glass who hit 6 sixes in the final over of the 2022 T20 final in the NCU to hand his side a dramatic win.

Burndennett host Rush, who are the competition’s most successful team having won it three times while Donacloney Mill visit picturesque Bonds Glen.

The final tie sees Strabane make the long journey to take on Ted Williamson’s Cork Harlequins, with the Red Caps looking to show they’re ready to compete this season.

On Sunday we have the two remaining ties in the Women’s senior cup with Fox Lodge hosting Bonds Glen at Ballymagorry (2 pm) and Newbuildings travelling to Eglinton for an 11 am start.

The winners of those two ties will join Bready and Strabane in the semi-final draw.


Saturday 18 May

Irish Senior Cup First Round ties- (50 over games, 12.30 pm start)

Ardmore v North Down

Brigade v Woodvale

CSNI v Newbuildings

Instonians v Eglinton

Bready v Phoenix

Killyclooney v Clontarf

Pembroke v Coleraine

Merrion v Donemana


National Cup First Round ties- (40 over games, 1.30 pm start)

Terenure v Glendermott

Ballymena v Fox Lodge

The Nedd v Belfast

St Johnston v Wexford Wanderers

Burndennett v Rush

Bonds Glen v Donacloney Mill

Cork Harlequins v Strabane

University of Galway v Ballyspallen


Sunday 19 May

Women’s Senior Cup (30 overs a side)

Eglinton v Newbuildings (11 am)

Fox Lodge v Bonds Glen (2 pm)



You may also like