Big cup weekend for Donemana and Limavady
BIG CUP WEEKEND FOR DONEMANA AND LIMAVADY
There's not much time for Donemana to celebrate their weekend Northern Bank Senior Cup success as both they and Limavady are involved in crucial Bob Kerr Irish Senior Cup semi finals this coming Saturday. The local cricket community will be fervently hoping that both can make it through to an all North West final, which, should that happen, would see the showpiece then transferred to Strabane Park at the beginning of next month. Because of those cup commitments, the weekend league programme is restricted to just one game with Bready and Brigade clashing at Magheramason.
BOB KERR IRISH SENIOR CUP SEMI FINALS
DONEMANA V PEMBROKE
We've long since run out of superlatives to describe this Donemana side and their emphatic win over Bready at Eglinton last weekend served only to act as a reminder that despite the obituaries, the current squad is a long way from being finished. There had been some concern that Azhar Shaffique's men would be found out by their younger, fitter opponents in the cup final but the reality was an awful lot different. The reigning champions put Bready on the floor at the very start and they didn't let them up until it was time for the after match speeches. They bowled well and fielded well which meant that although Junior McBrine and Azhar Shaffique batted superbly in the first innings, they were able to control matters pretty much as they liked without ever having to be at their best. This weekend they face a Pembroke side who may present a challenge not totally dissimilar to the Magheramason outfit. Brian O'Rourke's boys have already paid a visit to the North West this season having faced Killymallaght in the preliminary round of this very competition but although the respective grounds have plenty in common, the Dubliners can expect the similarities to end there. Pembroke have several players beginning to make a name for themselves in domestic cricket and beyond, the very talented Andrew Balbirnie probably the best known of them. Balbirnie has the makings of an International standard batsmen and is one player the hosts will be very keen to keep an eye on. Professional Anthony Brooks comes into the game in excellent touch as well and Graham McDonnell has been turning in some very decent performances of late. Despite O'Rourke's wealth of experience at this level however there is still a feeling that the rest of the side are still coming of age. Their defeat of holders North County in the last round shows that they will be a real handful but a semi final at the Holm in front of a massive closed in crowd is a proposition that the majority of them will not have experienced in the past. With Donemana buzzing after the weekend, Shaffique and his team will be relishing this challenge and having travelled to Leinster twice this year already and emerged unscathed the hosts will be going in on the crest of a wave. The weather may yet have a big part to play and the visitors certainly have the benefit of experience if the outcome comes down to Duckworth Lewis, but in a clean fight, and with home advantage, the Tyrone side starts favourites.
LEINSTER V LIMAVADY
Another mouth watering contest is in store in the other semi final as the North West pacesetters travel south hoping to book their place in the September final. The visitors have long since made this competition their holy grail and despite a plethora of domestic trophies in recent years, David Cooke's side has rarely hidden their preference for this one. There is little doubt either that on their day the North West side have a squad capable of serving it up to any in the country. Their batting line up includes Decker Curry, Ian McGregor, Andrew Riddles, Chris Moore, Mark and Richard McDaid and skipper Cooke, a catalogue of players who are capable of taking this match away on their own. McDaid and Moore have also joined forces this season to present a very potent new ball attack for the Roesiders and Simon Dunn and father and son Des and Dean Curry giving plenty of spin option when required. 'Decker' may well see this as one of his final opportunities to bag a big one and it's not difficult to envisage Limavady being really pumped up for the challenge, particularly given that Donemana may well be waiting in the other corner. That said, the hosts will have their own ideas about that and the North West side would do well to look out for two men in particular in Anton Schultz and Carlos Braithwaite. Both have been in brilliant form this season, Schultz making an unbeaten 142 last weekend as Leinster saw off Donemana's opponents Pembroke. That pair and Craig Mallon will have to be kept under wraps as much as possible as Limavady wouldn't want their hosts to get away at the top of the order. Pound for pound though you would have to say that David Cooke's lads look stronger than the Dubliners and they will know that they will get few better opportunities than this to book their place in an all- Ireland decider.
BILLY HENDERSON PROPERTIES DIVISION 1
BREADY V BRIGADE
Just one league game scheduled for the weekend as Gordon Cooke's side travel to Magheramason to tackle Bready on Saturday. The game obviously gives the Magheramason side an opportunity to get their cup final disappointments out of the system and with their title hopes still very much alive they will be keen to take advantage of the fact that neither Limavady nor Strabane are in league action. Bready's batting was fairly disappointing over the weekend at Eglinton but there is little doubt that the quality is there to do much better. Trevor Britton will take heart however from the fact that they bowled very well, particularly in the second innings and he will ask his side to prove themselves against a Brigade team that has been very hot and cold all year. The Beechgrove men have done well to accumulate 12 points so far this season but their record against the top sides has been less than inspiring. It has been a quiet enough time for both Iftikhar Hussain and Richard Wylie and if the visitors are to take anything from this one you would feel that those two have to score more heavily than has been the case so far. Bready however have the motivation of knowing that two points will keep the pressure on the sides above them in the league and you get the feeling that that ought to be enough to spur them on to a win.