Sports Hub Senior Cup takes centre stage on Saturday
Lawrence Moore takes a look ahead to Saturday’s first round ties in the Sports Hub senior cup in a bid to recover from some horrendous league predictions last weekend.
Hopefully the weather picks up over the next day or two as the first round ties in this year’s Sports Hub Senior Cup are set to be decided across the North West on Saturday.
As has been the case for several years now, the first two rounds are seeded, but despite that, there are some very difficult matches to call.
It’s a competition that most captains have on their radar every year for obvious reasons, and that is certainly the case for Brigade skipper Andy Britton.
The all-rounder is now into his 10th season at Beechgrove and says that finishing in the top eight in the league and a real crack at the senior cup is at the top of the wish list for 2023.
‘Britz’ has already played in six finals for the Limavady Road club- winning three and losing three, with all the losses coming against his boyhood club, Donemana; however the spirit certainly hasn’t been dampened.
“We’d love to get a run in the All-Ireland even though North West clubs have had a very poor record in that. The T20 competition is definitely achievable- winning our own Faughan Valley competition and then two games away from qualifying for the European League is obviously a big aim as well.
“For me though, the senior cup is still top. It’s the two-day final and the buzz you get around the club for that weekend. No matter how many times you play in it, you never get tired.”
“The league is very important- it’s brilliant to win that too- but if you gave me a choice I’d have the senior cup and the All-Ireland T20.”
Brigade get their cup campaign going at Ballyspallen on Saturday and will be red-hot favourites to progress to Round 2. The Roe Valley side has lost both of their league games to date and the visitors will be taking no chances having slipped up at Fox Lodge last weekend.
At the top of the senior table Donemana are unbeaten so far and Dwayne McGerrigle’s side should be far too strong for struggling Burndennett.
The Holm side’s skipper was in magnificent form against Eglinton last week with a blistering century followed by six wickets with the ball. ‘Dennett could be doing with a double-headed coin and the chance to bat first in this one.
Ardmore sprung a bit of a surprise with an impressive win over Newbuildings in their first game and they’ll be favourites heading to Killyclooney. It won’t be easy though- ‘Clooney have a few lads who can reach the ditch now and again, but the visitors really should win.
Letterkenny take their senior cup bow when they welcome Newbuildings to Drummond.
The Donegal side has really blossomed into an exciting prospect within the North West ranks and they look likely to be in the senior divisions sooner rather than later.
This is a massive step up for them for now though and Gareth McKeegan’s team should progress handily enough.
Eglinton will also be strong favourites as they welcome St Johnston in from the EU.
The villagers have a strong look about them this season with the batting and bowling reserves both pretty flush. Home advantage is also a big factor here and the villagers will be bitterly disappointed if they’re not in the hat for Round 2.
Bready v Strabane isn’t just quite as straightforward with the Red Caps maybe set to be a bit more competitive than they have been for the past few seasons.
Aaron Gillespie has hit the ground running and there are others who have have runs in them too. The new overseas man, Nasir Nawaz and former North County bowler ‘Uzzy’ Azhar look good signings as well.
Bready will have their eye on a good cup run themselves and Davy Scanlon’s team isn’t short on quality either. The Magheramason side’s top order is a good as any around and Strabane will need to be at their very best to cause an upset.
Holders Fox Lodge also face a tricky opener away at Bonds Glen and Aaron Heywood would have looked for something a bit easier as they start their defence of the trophy.
The Bee Gees certainly have a puncher’s chance in this one but momentum could be with the visitors who posted a confidence-boosting win over Brigade last week.
Coleraine and Glendermott is another one that is no ‘gimme’- the Bannsiders going into cup weekend in slightly better form than the Waterside outfit.
Ben Mills’s side’s bowling has looked decent in the opening weeks, however their batting order could do with one or two digging in.
Sandel Lodge is usually a venue that needs exactly that and the outcome could depend on who bats longest.
Sports Hub Senior Cup Round 1 fixtures (11am starts)
Killyclooney v Ardmore
Letterkenny v Newbuildings
Eglinton v St Johnston
Bready v Strabane
Coleraine v Glendermott
Donemana v Burndennett
Bonds Glen v Fox Lodge
Ballyspallen v Brigade