Six Senior League ties down for decision on Saturday
Lawrence Moore looks at the return to Long’s SuperValu Senior League action-
After a couple of weekends of cup cricket we’re back to the race for Premier Division places on Saturday in the Long’s SuperValu senior league.
With an uneven number of teams in this year’s one-off league, Ardmore sat out the first set of fixtures, so their game against Bready this weekend was to be just their second league outing.
The Bleachgreen club however didn’t manage to get their Irish Senior Cup tie with Cork County finished on Saturday past and they’re now heading to Munster instead for Sunday’s replay- meaning they’ll have still only played once in the league as we head into June!
Donemana have a Sunday replay too at Carrickfergus, but that won’t stop them heading to Beechgrove for Saturday’s big league match of the day.
The visitors are unbeaten after two games but know they’ll need to be at their best to win at the Limavady Road venue. The two sides are set to meet again soon in Tyrone in a North West senior cup quarter-final so there is plenty to whet the appetite here.
Brigade will fancy this but Donemana love nothing more than the ‘underdog’ tag.
St Johnston are also unbeaten, having accounted for Fox Lodge in Week 1 and then sat out the following Saturday, and they will fancy their chances at Burndennett who have lost both league matches to date. Ironically however, ‘Dennett were one of only two North West sides to progress on the field in the All-Ireland cups last weeks, emphasising again the unpredictable start to the summer.
Both teams know that these are the games they need to win to have a chance of finishing in the top eight and the Saints might just get the nod.
Newbuildings host Coleraine at Foyleview Arena and Gareth McKeegan’s men certainly start favourites against a team who often struggle to have everyone available week on week.
There’s no doubting that the visitors clearly have some really good players in the squad and they should be able to secure one of those top eight spots without too much fuss.
They just might find Newbuildings a little bit too hot to handle on Saturday however and it’s difficult to see the Bannsiders’ bowling unit over-powering the hosts order this time.
Glendermott, still searching for their first win, will be eyeing up Killyclooney who arrive at the Rectory this weekend.
‘Clooney seem to be a different proposition at home these days but have several players in their ranks who will find the confines of the Bonds Street venue similar to their own.
What could make for really good viewing is the match-up between two big-hitting overseas players- Glendermott’s Gihan Cloete and the visitors’ Blayde Capell.
It could be a really good contest this, but the home team’s needs look the greater at present.
Ballyspallen are also still searching their first win and James Thompson’s team welcomes a much-improved Strabane side to Bridge Park.
‘Spallen have a big performance in them on any given day but on current form, Aaron Gillespie’s team will take a bit of beating.
‘Uzzy’ Azhar is a great addition to the Red Caps’ attack and overseas man Nasir Nawaz has shown enough to suggest he will offer them plenty this season too.
Left arm spinner Andrew Mullen has been another great find and the form of skipper Gillespie, and the Gallagher brothers among others would make the Tyrone side favourites here.
Eglinton and Fox Lodge are both going to be bang in the mix for those coveted places come the end of the season and theirs is a very difficult game to call on Saturday.
The villagers have several match-winners in their squad- overseas man Mike Erlank is up among the best in the league while Liam Doherty, Tommy Orr and others are capable of changing games too.
The cup holders aren’t too bad in that department themselves and if Brian Allen is back having missed their Irish Senior Cup defeat against The Hills- they’re well up to taking on anyone as they proved last season.
Home advantage maybe gives Eglinton the edge in this one, but not by much.
Long’s SuperValu League fixtures
Saturday (12 noon starts)
Newbuildings v Coleraine
Brigade v Donemana
Glendermott v Killyclooney
Burndennett v St Johnston
Ballyspallen v Strabane
Eglinton v Fox Lodge