Sports Hub Senior Cup takes top billing this weekend

It’s first round day in the North West’s blue riband competition, the Sports Hub Senior Cup this Saturday, and despite the seeded draw, some tricky early ties to be negotiated for a few of the fancied sides.

Holders Brigade start their defence at St Johnston- a venue they’ve struggled at once or twice in recent years. The Saints look fairly compact this year and with home advantage and little expectation on their shoulders, this is a game that will suit them down to the ground.

The Donegal side now have former Brigade player and Ireland International Graeme McCarter in their ranks these days as well, so there will be no shortage of banter.

If they play to their potential, Brigade, with a plethora of proven match-winners in their line-up should be too strong, but the Saints won’t be bothered one iota about reputation. It could well turn out to be an interesting afternoon at the Boathole.

Donemana should be far too strong for The Nedd in their tie in Ballykelly, but this one too would be ripe for ‘fairytale status’ if the hosts could manage to find a way.

The Holm side is a different animal altogether once the senior cup trophy appears and anything other than an away win would make the 10 o’clock news.

Bready host an improved-looking Bonds Glen with a few of the visitors’ youth players now really starting to make their mark on the senior game.

To be fair, Ian Young’s side have a few fresh faces of their own and although this is a great stage for the Bee Gees to show how far they’ve come, Bready will be red-hot favourites to progress.

There are two very competitive ties that could go either way, particularly at Fox Lodge, where Coleraine are the visitors.

The Bannsiders just pipped Aaron Heywood’s men to a top eight place last season and there has been precious little between them on the head-to-heads as well.

Coleraine beat champions Ardmore on the opening day of the season and are a side that clearly fancy themselves to cause a few surprises this time around.

Fox Lodge of course had their day in the sun when winning this competition two years ago and they will be desperate for another run this time. It could go either way, with the visitors favourites by a hair’s breadth.

Killyclooney were a real surprise package last year as they booked a top-flight berth for this season and their reward is a home tie with Glendermott in the first round

Both sides have plenty of batsmen who know how to reach the rope and conditions permitting, this should be a pretty free-scoring game.

It’s hard to call a winner to be fair, but the visitors will definitely fancy their chances of causing an upset.

League champions Ardmore haven’t totally found their stride just yet but it’s really difficult to see Burndennett causing them too many problems at the Bleachgreen.

Rachit Gaur has started well with the bat and along with the likes of Harry Zimmermann and Ryan Brolly, the home side should win comfortably.

Newbuildings entertain Strabane at Foyleview; the first senior game at the venue this season.

Overseas man Nasir Nawaz is back in town for the Red Caps, who have also added player/coach John Mooney to their ranks.

The supporting cast isn’t bad either but it’s probably safe to say the Tyrone side has one eye very firmly on the promotion race in the first instance.

Gareth McKeegan’s men would certainly like another tilt at a senior final and despite the loss of Johnny Thompson, they certainly have it within their gift.

Newbuildings are favourites to go through, but it’s hard to know how decent Strabane might be this season.

The final game of the eight sees Ballyspallen entertain Eglinton in what is something of a local derby.

‘Spallen found the going tough last year but have added Australian all-rounder James Cusack for this summer and he has already made his presence felt.

Much will depend on whether they can get enough support around him, but whether they do or not it is difficult to see them getting past what looks to be a decent villagers outfit.

On Sunday, Fox Lodge will host Strabane in their outstanding league game from the opening day while at the Park, Strabane women will take on Coleraine in a first round senior cup tie starting at 12 noon.

The quarter final draw for the men’s senior cup will take place between innings in Sunday’s senior game at Ballymagorry.

 

The Sports Hub Senior Cup 1st Round draw

(Matches starting at 11am- 50 overs per side)

Saturday 11 May

Ardmore v Burndennett

Bready v Bonds Glen

Fox Lodge v Coleraine

The Nedd v Donemana

Newbuildings v Strabane

Ballyspallen v Eglinton

St Johnston v Brigade

Killyclooney v Glendermott

 

Sunday 12 May

Long’s SuperValu Premiership Section 2

Fox Lodge v Strabane (12 noon)

 

Women’s Senior Cup 1st Round

Strabane v Coleraine (12 noon)

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