Sam McConnell finals follow intriguing round of league fixtures
Lawrence Moore looks ahead to this weekend’s fixtures in the North West
Week Two of the domestic cricket season sees what could already be a very pivotal afternoon of cricket in the Long’s SuperValu senior league on Saturday followed by the crowning of the Sam McConnell Charity Cup winners at The Rectory on Sunday.
There are several tasty fixtures in the league to start with; including three match-ups between teams heavily fancied to finish the season in the top eight.
Donemana v Eglinton could be the pick of them- both sides posting comfortable wins on the opening day, however something will have to give now, weather permitting.
The home side hope to have new overseas man Roy Kaia in tow for the game and that will certainly give them a lift, however Mike Erlank has already laid down an early marker for a villagers team that looks as strong as it has been for a few years.
Home advantage maybe just sways the call Donemana’s way but it’s a very tough shout.
Coleraine and Bready also started with wins on Saturday and they lock horns at Sandel Lodge this time.
The Bannsiders have a decent blend of youth and experience in the 2023 model and I’d fancy them to make the eight this season. Davy Scanlon’s side though look formidable opponents and they definitely travel to the north coast as favourites.
Ardmore and Newbuildings are technically unbeaten too- albeit the Bleachgreen men sat out the opening round of fixtures. The hosts have brought in several new faces this year although there might be a bit of balancing and rotation required over the course of the season.
Whatever line-up they opt for, Ardmore are notoriously difficult to beat on their own patch.
They’ll be there or thereabouts come September as well, however they may have to play second fiddle for now to a Newbuildings side that has a host of potential match-winners with both bat and ball.
Fox Lodge started with a slightly surprising defeat at St Johnston last week- the game I opted to watch on Saturday- however there were mitigating circumstances.
It was an all-important toss that home skipper David Anthony won and he had no hesitation in bowling first on a soft and slightly ‘sticky’ pitch.
Winning the toss and bowling wasn’t received well by Saints’ former skipper David ‘not on my watch’ Lapsley, however Anthony’s call vindicated the Donegal club’s captaincy vote at their AGM as Fox Lodge were bowled out for 102.
The visitors’ overseas man, Gayan Maneeshan, must have been wondering what he had let himself in for after his first dismissal in North West cricket. The Sri Lankan played three shots at a ball from Dawid Barnard and by the time it got to him- the last of those shots saw him chop on to his stumps.
It gets no easier for the senior cup holders in Week 2 with a trip to Beechgrove and an encounter with a Brigade side who began with a bloodless victory at The Rectory.
Andy Britton’s side weren’t at their best in 2022 but there seems to be a bit of a look in their eye this time.
If their top order is in the same form this weekend, Brigade should win.
Elsewhere, the game at the Park between Strabane and Glendermott looks interesting.
Ben Mills’s side also hope to have their new overseas man in this week and the Bonds Street team have plenty of hitting power in their order.
If Strabane’s bowlers can keep them in check, it will give Aaron Gillespie and the Gallagher brothers a chance to build on their promising start at Foyleview Arena last weekend.
Both these sides are likely to be contesting those last two or three ‘top eight’ places this summer and in the context of that, this could be a key match-up.
Bonds Glen v Burndennett and Killyclooney v Ballyspallen probably both fall into that category too and there may not be much in either game.
The Bee Gees and ‘Dennett swapped a player or two in the close season so no doubt there will be plenty of banter throughout the afternoon. The home side have several genuine match-winners in their line-up, including David Cooke and skipper Raymond Curry, and they just get the nod this time.
‘Spallen are another side who could surprise a few teams this season and if they can keep the home team’s boundary hitters quiet, the Roe Valley side could have enough about them.
Then on Sunday it is on to the Sam McConnell Charity T20 finals day at Glendermott CC.
There will be two games played on the day with Fox Lodge involved in both. The Ballymagorry club’s women’s team will play league winners Bready in the first game (12 noon) before the men’s team contest a repeat of last season’s thrilling senior cup final against Newbuildings (3.30 pm).
Admission for the day is £5 (£3 concessionary) with all funds going to the Derry Midweek League Charity Fund.
Glendermott CC have also asked that all those attending the matches use the Oakgrove Primary School car park, and enter the ground via the side gate.
Long’s SuperValu League fixtures
Saturday (all 12 noon)
Fox Lodge v Brigade
Killyclooney v Ballyspallen
Strabane v Glendermott
Donemana v Eglinton
Bonds Glen v Burndennett
Ardmore v Newbuildings
Coleraine v Bready
Sam McConnell Charity Cup finals day
Sunday at The Rectory
Bready Women v Fox Lodge Women (12 noon)
Fox Lodge v Newbuildings (3.30 pm)