WARINGSTOWN will start their defence of the Gallagher Challenge Cup next year at Holywood, after the holders were last out of the hat in last night’s first round draw.
The tie of the round promises to be at Shaw’s Bridge where Instonians host North Down while newly promoted Lisburn have home advantage in the other all-Premier League game against CIYMS, beaten in last year’s semi-final by Waringstown.
Carrickfergus and Civil Service North, last year’s beaten finalists, were both given home ties against Section One opposition, Woodvale and relegated Armagh respectively, but Muckamore must travel to Bangor, just a few miles down the road from where they were knocked out in the first round last year by Holywood.
There are two preliminary round ties between the four lowest ranked teams but they can have their eyes on the quarter-finals because they will be at home to Section One rivals in the first round. Templepatrick and Donaghcloney Mill will be doing battle for a game against Downpatrick, while Ballymena, back in the Challenge Cup following their promotion from Section Two, face Cregagh with a first round tie against Derriaghy as the prize.
The Northern Cricket Union were unable to confirm dates for the ties because they are waiting on Cricket Ireland to confirm the international dates for next summer and, indeed the Irish Cup first round date, the draw for which is expected to be made at the CI board meeting next week.
Gallagher Challenge Cup first round: Carrickfergus v Woodvale, Instonians v North Down, Templepatrick or Donaghcloney Mill v Downpatrick, Civil Service North v Armagh, Lisburn v CIYMS, Bangor v Muckamore, Ballymena v Cregagh v Derriaghy, Holywood v Waringstown.
Women's Challenge Cup first round: Waringstown v CSN, Instonians v North Down, Muckamore v Donaghcloney Mill or Carrick, Holywood or Laurelvale v Lurgan.