Premiership reaches half-way stage
The North West senior cup semi-final draw has thrown up a couple of intriguing semi-final ties this week- none more so than at the Rectory where Glendermott will entertain Ballyspallen at the start of next month.
Coincidentally the two sides are set to meet in the league this coming Saturday as well, giving an extra little spark to what was already a crucial Premier Division clash.
Obviously all eyes will be on the cup match in a couple of weeks time, however given their current league standings, both teams will also be keen to secure the points on Saturday.
Home skipper Gordon Montgomery said that this weekend's game would have little or no bearing on what happens in the cup contest to come, however he was looking solely to the league match at the minute.
"It's an old saying but a true one that when it comes to the latter stages of the cup all you can do is hope for a home draw and that's exactly what we have" he began.
"We know 'Spallen are a very good side and there will be a big crowd at the Rectory for that match at the start of next month however we have to focus on what happens on Saturday first."
"Gordon Cooke will be unavailable for us for this one although he will return for the cup game, while Bob Robinson is out this Saturday as well as he is on holiday. Other than that our team pretty much picks itself, and we'll be hoping that the boys continue their decent run of form."
"It looks like being very tight at the bottom end of the table but now that we have the win under our belts, we'll be trying to push on to get ourselves away from the relegation scrap."
"We're looking forward to both games as we head into the second half of the season, and I'm sure Ballyspallen are in exactly the same boat as us."
"The reality is that everyone wanted to avoid Brigade in the cup draw so it's going to be a crucial few weeks for both of our clubs."
The loss of Gordon Cooke is something of a blow for Glendermott this weekend; the former Ireland International bowler has been at the top of his form in recent weeks, however he is expected to be out for a fortnight as he recovers from surgery.
As for Ballyspallen, it's a very busy week for them too as they follow up their trip to the Rectory with a visit to Strabane Park on Sunday for a rearranged League match.
Similar tp Glendermott, Strabane have also been experiencing their own difficulties in the league and therefore points will be at an absolute premium in that one as well.
The Red Caps are at Beechgrove on Saturday, and while you can't rule anything out in this division it would be a huge surprise if Peter Gillespie's side were to win there. That makes Sunday's game against the Roe Valley men all the more important as Strabane aim to bounce back from defeat at Bridge Park in the cup last time out.
Conditions should be more to their liking this time however Graham Kennedy will make a difference to the visitors' line-up, as of course will Aaron Gillespie to the hosts.
The Tyrone outfit are really struggling with the bat at the minute and neither skipper Gillespie nor the key batsmen around him can seem to buy a run. Their bowling looks decent, but unless they can find a bit of form in the order they could find themselves in trouble.
It really is all to play for in both of those contests and we are likely to know a lot more about the basement battle after the weekend.
Brigade will be looking to extend their advantage at the top of the table in that Saturday match, and given the form they're in at present it is very difficult to look beyond Andy Britton's men.
Donemana and Bready- the teams currently in second and third place in the table- clash at the Holm in what could be the match of the day.
Andrew Riddles' side have already lost twice in the championship this year and know full well that a third defeat in the first half of the season will be fatal to their title hopes.
Bready have lost just once to this point but it's also fair to say that they will need a win here to keep on the leaders' tails. Donemana is rarely an easy place to go and with quite a bit at stake it's a difficult game to call.
Coleraine entertain Eglinton in the day's final match and just as in the previous game the points are at a real premium in this one as well. The Bannsiders have struggled very badly in recent weeks particularly with the bat, and they will be hoping to be at full strength for what looks a really important afternoon.
The home side will need their big players to perform if they are to get anything from the game, albeit Eglinton looked a pale shadow of themselves as they were mauled by Ardmore in the cup last weekend.
The Villagers still look heavily reliant on their overseas man Mike Erlank and they will also be hoping that Stuart Thompson is available to them after being involved with both Ireland and the Warriors in recent weeks.
No doubt both of these sides have enough quality to win the couple of games that they need between now and the end of the season, however neither will wish to get too far adrift of the pack as they head towards the back nine.
This weekend also marks the end of 1pm starts, for this season at least, as games will begin no later than 12 noon from the start of July.