Can Championship side finally secure Senior Cup

Tom Riddles smashes a six for Donemana during Saturday's match against North County. INLS1915-118KM
Tom Riddles smashes a six for Donemana during Saturday's match against North County. INLS1915-118KM

There’s more cup action this coming weekend as the first round of the Danske Bank Senior Cup kicks off across the North West on Saturday.

As we are continually reminded, Championship sides don’t have much of a record in this tournament either in terms of winning it, nor even indeed of defeating top flight clubs in the early stages either.

Many believe that given the strength of the division this year however there is more prospects of an upset or two, and that is certainly possible.

There are two all - Championship first round ties to consider, Burndennett at home to Killyclooney and Creevedonnell entertaining Drummond.

In the latter of those Drummond would be very warm favourites to get past Andy Barr’s men on current form, although the arrival of the home side’s new professional would make things much more interesting.

The other game is more difficult to unravel and while Burndennett would start marginal favourites, you get the impression ’Clooney could be ready to tee off at any minute.

Fox Lodge look to have the best shot of providing an upset as they travel to Eglinton. All eyes will be on the highly-touted Marco Marais here to see if he can preserve his superb domestic start.

Elsewhere, Brigade against Glendermott always conjures up thoughts of a shock but both Newbuildings (at home to Coleraine) and Bonds Glen (at home to Donemana) look up against it.

Meanwhile last weekend in keeping with events in the Irish Senior Cup, North West teams came off very much second best in Saturday’s National Cup first round fixtures, with only one of the eight taking part assured of their place in the next round after a disappointing day’s play.

Several of the weekend games were actually called off well in advance, which will have gone down well with the ‘away’ teams given the amount of travel involved in this competition.

Creevedonnell spared Leinster side Dundrum a wasted journey by calling off their match on Friday evening- the same courtesy extended by Academy to Burndennett and North Kildare to Drummond. All those fixtures will now be reversed and played on the reserve date of Sunday 23 May.

That left five matches down for decision and we start the round-up at Bonds Glen, where Bangor were the visitors.

The home side batted first in this and having missed out in his first couple of knocks for his new club, David Cooke was among the runs, top scoring with 49.

Ash Buchanan with 26 and Michael McBeth (24) chipped in as well, as the Bee Gees posted a competitive 162 all out.

Remano Esau (5-36) was the main reason the target wasn’t higher as he and Chris Burns (3-26) helped keep the home side’s progress in check.

Esau showed he could do it with the bat as well as he made 41 in the reply but the seasiders’ innings was built around Adam McCusker who batted really well to make an unbeaten half century just when his team needed it.

Two wickets apiece for Buchanan and Lee Britton weren’t enough to prevent Bangor securing a 4-wicket win.

Ballyspallen and Sion Mills were the two qualifying clubs involved in this competition as they took the places of Glendermott and Fox Lodge, who were both competing in the Irish Senior version.

Unfortunately neither was to make it through albeit ’Spallen gave Laois a real scare before bowing out.

Calum McGregor’s 21 was by far the best of a disappointing 97 all out for the Roe Valley men as they struggled to cope with some accurate bowling from Armand Smit (4-10) and Usama Raees (3-21).

It took the best part of 35 overs to get even that far so scoring wasn’t going to be easy and Ballyspallen fought back well when it came their turn in the field.

Creighton Wilson (3-22), Kyle Martin (2-15) and Jacob Logan-Wilson (2-21) reduced the southerners to 73 for 7 in the chase, but the boldly named Ben Hur (39) managed to steer the visitors over the winning line for a 3-wicket victory.

Sion’s exit was much less tense after they were well beaten by Greystones in a game that was originally down to be played in County Wicklow.

With their ground currently out of use however they asked the Tyrone side to switch, but the loss of home advantage proved to be of little hindrance.

Bryan Reid’s 28 was much the best for the Mill men as they were shot out for 92 with Venkat (4-14) and Sino George (3-39) doing the bulk of the damage.

After that the only question was how far and Greystones lost just one wicket - that of David Drane for 28 - on the way to the second round.

Danny Barclay (38*) and Gary Lawler (26*) completed the formalities as the visitors won with 9 wickets to spare.