League action takes a break this weekend with local sides involved in the opening rounds of the Irish Senior and National Cups.

It's been meagre pickings for the NW in these competitions in recent times and you have to go back to 2004 for the last winners, Limavady, and ten years since Donemana became the last team to make the final.

There's already one NW side into the second round with Strabane receiving a bye courtesy of reaching the semi-finals last season.

Bready, finalists back in 1995 have home advantage over Lisburn. The NW league champions have had an inconsistent start to the season, but will welcome the chance to pit their wits against the NCU side who gained promotion to the top flight this year.

There will be one familiar face in the Mid-Ulster ranks with Robert Rankin coming up against his brother David. Lisburn have Indian international Faiz Fazal in their ranks, plus former Irish international Reinhardt Strydom and Knights all-rounder David Simpson.

Coleraine entertain CSNI who have something of a reputation as cup specialists. Overseas player Andre Malan has enjoyed a strong start to the season, and former New Zealand U19 captain Marc Ellison has also been among the runs.

All-rounder Graeme McCarter is a former Bannsider helping them to the title, and he will have a big impact on the game. The Belfast side also have Irish wicket-keeper Gary Wilson in their line-up and they will be favourites to progress.

Glendermott have home advantage against Rush and this has the potential to be a high scoring contest. The Rectory side lost a hard-fought league game last weekend, but will the cup as a chance to bounce back. Nathan McGuire, Neil Rock and overseas player Jurie Snyman have all been in the runs for the Fingal side.

They have a number of experienced players too especially in the bowling attack with former Irish international Allan Eastwood, Jarred Barnes and former NW professional Sadat Gull.

Donemana, winners back in 2000 face a tough away day trip to North Down. The Comber side were busy over the close season, and their capture of Craig Young from Bready was probably the highest profile move of the year. They have a quality professional in Ruhan Pretorius, while former Irish star Ryan Haire is a dangerous all-rounder, capable of scoring quickly, as are skipper Ally Shields and Peter Eakin. The Tyrone side have started the season strongly and this game could go either way.

Another NW side facing a tough away day trip are Brigade, who travel to take on Dublin kingpins Pembroke at Sydney Parade. The Leinster side have a quartet of current Irish internationals in Barry McCarthy, Andy Balbirnie, Lorcan Tucker and Josh Little, although the latter may miss out due to a back injury. They also have former Waringstown professional Shaheen Khan in their side and he has the potential to take the game away very quickly from the Beechgrove side with either bat or ball.

Eglinton and Ballyspallen are also facing tough opposition in Dublin, with the villagers at Phoenix, who have made a very strong start to the season. They recruited heavily over the winter signing Irish internationals Simi Singh and James Shannon, while also adding interpro keeper Nic Pretorius. Their overseas player Poonish Mehta was the leading wicket taker in Leinster in 2018 and with Ben Beecroft scoring consistently they are a very strong all-round side.

Ballyspallen are at The Hills, with the Milverton side winning their first six league games of the campaign. They are a formidable side with an excellent record in the competition, two times winners plus two final appearances. Daya Singh has been the form player of the season to date, while there is a hardened core of talent throughout, with players of the calibre of Nasser Shaukat, Greg Lamb, Cormac McLoughlin-Gavin and Tomas Rooney-Murphy.

In the National Cup, St Johnston and Fox Lodge have earned byes into round two, while Ardmore will play Sligo at home despite being drawn away - their opponents facilities and ground deemed not of a high enough standard to host matches.

Elsewhere, there are road trips for Bonds Glen who go to Ballymena and Newbuildings who journey to North Kildare. 2014 finalists Killyclooney entertain Ballyhaunis, while there will be a bit of history when The Nedd play their first white-ball match as they travel to Templepatrick in a late switch of fixtures.