Irish Cup draw
Ian Callender, Newsletter (Belfast)
Waringstown, the league and cup double winners this year, have been drawn away to Rush in the match of the first round of next season's Irish Senior Cup.
Rush claimed the prize scalps of North Down, Clontarf and North County on their way to last season's final when they lost by the minimum margin to Railway Union and with home advantage next May will be confident of dispatching the Villagers, in much the same way as they accounted for the then NCU and Leinster league champions.
North Down have an attractive first round game at home to Strabane, one of five all-Ulster ties in the draw which keeps apart teams from the same union.
There are three other NCU-North West ties with Limavady returning to Bangor, scene of their Ulster Cup final defeat this year, Carrickfergus hosting Donemana and Downpatrick at home to Bready. The one NCU team heading north west is Lisburn who have been drawn against Fox Lodge.
It will be a case of 'welcome to the big time' for North West Senior One new boys Killymallaght. Their first ever Irish Cup tie is at Castle Avenue against Clontarf while Ireland's other international ground, Stormont, will stage another glamour tie, North County's visit to Civil Service North.
Last year's NCU Section Two champions Derriaghy played only game in their first Irish Cup campaign, drawn away to and comfortably beaten by Rush in 2005. Next season they will have their first home match and a much better chance of progressing, against the winners of the preliminary round game between Leinster and Old Belvedere, two of the bottom four teams in Dublin.
Ballyspallen, host the winners of the other two, Pembroke and CYM, and will also fancy their chances of getting past the first round. At least they will be grateful not to be drawn against Railway Union, their conquerors in each of the last two seasons.
Railway, now the holders, have, coincidently, the easiest draw of all, at home to Munster league winners Cork County while North West league champions Brigade should be more than happy with their first tie, at home to Merrion.
The fourth and final game in the North West will be at Eglinton, where the Senior Cup holders will welcome Phoenix for the second season in a row. Last year the Dublin side won by six wickets on their way to the semi final.
It is also 'play it yet again' for Glendermott and The Hills. They, incredibly, meet in the first round for the third successive year but this time it will be in Finglas with the teams all square at one-win each after their previous two meetings.
Also heading south are Instonians, to YMCA while Malahide travel in the opposite direction to Pollock Park to face Lurgan, one of six game in the NCU on Saturday May 19.
Once again Saturdays have been set aside for all four rounds up to the final and there is the possibility that next year's decider will also be held on a Saturday. The provisional date for the final is Friday August 31 or September 1 with the executive to rule on whether the showpiece game takes place on the plum Saturday date, although surely they would have to instruct a closed date throughout the country for it to have impact.