UP FOR THE CUP

It’s cup action all the way from now until the end of the season, with four senior competitions to be resolved as well a plethora of Qualifying, Women’s and youth finals.

All 15 senior sides are now just one step away from the chance of final glory under the innovative formula devised by the NW in order to salvage something from this most difficult of seasons.

The draws were conducted on Monday by NW Under 13 star Sophie Hamilton, and the Bready all-rounder will have pleased the Magheramason club by handing them a home tie in the senior cup, albeit against holders Brigade.

They sealed their place on Saturday by virtue of topping the group despite their clash with Fox Lodge being postponed.

“I was looking for a home tie and very happy to get one,” Bready skipper David Scanlon told the Chronicle.

“Brigade will be a really tough challenge, but one that we will relish.

“Team wise, Gregory McFaul will be available, while Conor Olphert is working hard to gain fitness after his quad muscle injury, but it might be a week early though. Other than that we have a clean bill of health, and we are all looking forward to the game.”

In the other half of the draw, Donemana will be happy at being drawn first out of the hat, having home advantage over Coleraine.

(The McClintock twins)

The Tyrone side have been a nemesis for the Bannsiders in recent times beating them in five semi-finals as well as the 2016 finals, and captain William McClintock is happy with the draw.

“We’re certainly happy about the draw and delighted we got a home one,” said McClintock.

“We weren’t all that bothered as to who we got in the draw but definitely are happy with home advantage.

“We should have a full team on Saturday except for Ricky-Lee Dougherty who isn’t available, but Gary should be back playing and Andy McBrine being back is certainly a huge boost to us. We are all looking forward to Saturday now and hopefully the weather lets us have a full game and we’ll definitely be giving it 110% to get into the final of the senior cup.”

The ties were originally scheduled to have a decision on Saturday, but the weather this week has forced the Union to reconsider and they have added Sunday as a reserve date for all the senior semi-finals.

It is a case of what might have been for Killyclooney and Fox Lodge who were denied the chance of a Senior Cup slot by the weather but now they must pick themselves up again for their Faughan Valley Cup semi-final.

“We are naturally disappointed to have missed out on the Senior Cup this year, as I do think that game against Bready promised to be a really good battle,” said Foxes skipper Aaron Heywood.

“However, I am delighted with how we have went about our cricket this season and the boys are looking forward to taking on 'The Clooney' this weekend. Killyclooney like ourselves have been doing well amongst the Premiership teams and took a real scalp beating Donemana a few weeks ago. Both teams have a nice blend of youth and experience and I think our places in the Faughan Valley semi-finals have been earned.

“In terms of team news there are a couple of absentees with Dean McCarter injured, while Aidan Logue's season is cut short, travelling for his long awaited operation this week and we really wish him all the best for that. Other than that we are pretty much at full strength and have a good group to pick from. We would love to progress to Finals Day this year and put ourselves in the position to win silverware.”

His Killyclooney counterpart Tim Dougherty is also relishing the opportunity to make a final, and they go into the match in good form having beaten both Donemana and Ardmore in recent weeks.

(Tim Dougherty)

“Recent results has given us a good boost and we are full of confidence going into the semi-final,” said Dougherty.

“We are in good form especially at our home pitch this year. The pitch is in top shape, so hopefully we can win again and give our diehard fans a day out to remember. “We are at full strength with everyone playing their part this year, especially our younger players like Jason Wallace with the ball and Kenzie Hall behind the stumps.”

The other semi-final sees Newbuildings taking on Eglinton.

The Sammy Jeffrey draw has Ballyspallen entertaining St Johnston, while Bonds Glen will face Burndennett, who gained a morale boosting 108-run win over Strabane.

Gary Neely hit 5 sixes in his 58 and then took three wickets in an excellent all-round display, which will see his side strong favourites to claim a final slot.

It’s been a miserable season for Strabane, who now face another side yet to record a win, Ardmore in the Eric Cooke Cup. The winners will play Glendermott in the final. For Aaron Gillespie, it’s a chance to salvage something from the season, with the format devised by the NW meeting his approval.

“It’s nice the way it’s been done so it gives all teamsto be in with a chance to win a piece of silverware this year. After all it’s a semi-final at the end of the day and great to be able to compete in one as they don’t come around very often.

(Aaron Gillespie)

“It’ll be a tough game as over the last few years it has always been a close contest between ourselves and Ardmore so one we’re much looking forward too. This year we’ve only used maybe 13-14 players and the majority have been the younger guys.

“The like of young TJ and Reshwanth who both came up and still play with our under age sides do to be able to give them the experience of what senior cricket is like and ease them into it as it not often you get a chance to do something like so it’ll be great for the progression of their own cricket.”

WEEKEND FIXTURES

29th August (all 2pm)

Senior Cup

  • Donemana v Coleraine
  • Bready v Brigade

Faughan Valley Cup

  • Newbuildings v Eglinton
  • Killyclooney v Fox Lodge

Sammy Jeffrey Shield

  • Bonds Glen v Burndennett
  • Ballyspallen v St Johnston

Eric Cooke Cup

  • Ardmore v Strabane

Qualifying Cups

  • Killyclooney 2 v Fox Lodge 2
  • Donemana 2 v Letterkenny
  • Coleraine 2 v North Fermanagh
  • Eglinton 2 v Newbuildings 2
  • Brigade 2 v Ballyspallen 2
  • The Nedd v Ardmore 2
  • Glendermott 2 v Sion Mills
  • Bready 2 v St Johnston 2
  • Burndennett 2 v Maghera

Q3 semi-finals Sunday 30th August (2pm)

  • Bready 3 v Newbuildings 3
  • Eglinton 3 v Ardmore 3