Brigade and Glendermott to meet in cup showdown
The North West Senior Cup final takes place at Eglinton this weekend when Brigade and Glendermott will lock horns in the Blue Riband competition's first ever 'Waterside derby' decider.
There are no doubt many around who ecpected the likes of Donemana or Bready to be involved in the Union's showpiece this season, so it is a fitting tribute to the finalists that they each removed one of that pair en route to here. Glendermott ousted the defending North West champions at the Rectory in Round 1 while Brigade accounted for the multiple winners in the quarter-finals.
The two teams could hardly be going into the contest in more contrasting form however; Brigade on a run of 11 straight league wins while Gordon Montgomery's men have lost their last four on the bounce. On the two occasions they have met so far, the league leaders have handed out a couple of absolute hammerings, winning by 277 runs at Bonds Street and then 10 wickets at Beechgrove.
It looks an ominous ask for Glendermott if truth be told and it's probably fair comment to suggest that Andy Britton's side will be outrageously long odds-on favourites to claim the old trophy this weekend.
In a one-off cup clash any side has a puncher's chance, but over two innings, well, that's another story. From Brigade's perspective then you wonder what could possibly go wrong and the answer is probably nothing.
Skipper Andy Britton is having none of that however and is well aware of the potential dangers as his side move closer to the league and cup double.
"We're not getting ahead of ourselves in a senior cup final no matter how well we've been doing up to now" he began.
"We've been involved in plenty of finals over the last ten or so years and lost more than our fair share. Every man in this team knows he has to do his job and if we do that then we'll be hard to beat. If we don't, then players like Davy and Gordon Cooke, Gordon Montgomery, Bob Robinson, Alan Johnson and their pro (Keshan Wijerathne) could make things very difficult."
"We don't need to concern ourselves with that if we look after our own business. This side isn't top of the league by accident. We're playing well and the attitude is right and if it comes together again over the weekend as it has nearly every other week then we're definitely good enough. If we take our eye off the ball they hve plenry of boys who can cash in. That's been the message in our changing room- we all need to do our jobs."
It's a reasonable assessment from the Brigade skipper but there are a couple of scenarios he will want to avoid. Firstly, they won't want Friday's play to be wiped out by the weather, leaving the game reduced to one innings.
Glendermott are choc full of guys who like to hit the ball far away and if two or three of them clicked, it would make things a lot more interesting.
On top of that, the Cooke brothers are proven winners. They know what it takes in these types of matches and nobody enjoys the big stage more than these two. Add in that sprinkling of ecperience elsewhere in the side coupled with the attacking intent in the order and there's a potential for a sting in the tail.
It is one of the areas where Glens' skipper Gordon Montgomery is pinning his hopes as he looks to do what no other side in the region has managed this season.
"Of course we're up against it and the vast majority of people expect Brigade to win easily, so there isn't really much pressure on us. Our league form hasn't been great recently but if you take it over the season so far it has been better than results suggest."
"On top of the games we've won, we've also lost some really close ones, including two matches by a single run. We've now played everyone in the top half so the rest of our games are against the teams around us in the league. A bit of luck here or there and we could even have been in the top four ourselves."
"I believe there is enough quality in our side to make this a very entertaining final. We have big game players, experienced players and a few lads who can change a scoreboard very quickly if they get in."
"It has been a tough few months at the Rectory and we want to put on the best performance we can for our fantastic members and supporters. Finals don't come along all that often although thankfully I've been involved in a few before. It will be a weekend for us to share as a club and we will give it everything."
As for where the game will be won and lost it's fair to say Brigade's bowlers probably hold the key. David Barr, Gareth McKeegan, Iftikhar Hussain and Kyle Magee have been in excellent touch for them with the bat all summer and if the bowlers are able to tee up a decent first innings lead, that could be job done.
There is sure to be a good squad down from the Rectory to cheer their team on so we can only hope for some really pleasant weather over the weekend.
Play will start at 12 noon with one innings per side completed each day unless an early closure or weather forces a change.
Admission remains £5 (£3 concession) and as always, spectators are asked to respect the policy of no alcohol carry-outs in the ground.
Umpires for the match are Ian Gamble and George Brolly (jnr) with Vinny O'Hara third.