Another busy weekend ahead as Saturday sees the first round of the O’Neills Ulster Cup, pitching the top teams in the NCU against their counterparts in the North West.
Then Sunday follows with a full round of rearranged fixtures in the Ulster Bank Premier League.
To date we have focused on eye catching performances by Derriaghy and Carrickfergus, in some part at the expense of CIYMS.
The latter however did awake from their league slumbers with an excellent victory over Instonians last weekend.
Meanwhile in mid Ulster, almost unnoticed, Waringstown suddenly find themselves alone at the top of the league, in the quarter-finals of both the Arthur J Gallagher Challenge Cup and Irish Senior Cup. The only reverse thus far has been a T20 against Instonians when a youthful 11 only narrowly came up short.
And captain Lee Nelson is looking forward to the Ulster Cup test at home to Coleraine:
“We have had a good start, still going on all fronts, so very pleasing. We have a strong squad and so far, until last weekend our depth of batting has not really been tested. That presents it own challenges, as when players do get to the middle it is almost like pre-season, mind you it didn’t seem to affect Greg Thompson.
“Looking at the panel we have many talented young players coming through; again difficult for me to manage. So we look to the T20 and Ulster Cup to give these players opportunities, with an eye to the future.
“In the Ulster Cup neither Kyle McCallan nor Johnny Bushe will play, being replaced by Morgan Topping and Marcus McClean. There is no suggestion of not taking the competition seriously, once we cross the white line we are playing to win, but we continue blooding these guys.
“Coleraine will be tough, for me perhaps the top side in the North West, certainly up there alongside Brigade and Donemana.”
So who will be the challengers?
“ It is hard to look past Instonians and CIYMS, we have had good wins away from home at Wallace Park and Stormont.
“Our focus was to get out of the blocks quickly, if we can win at North Down on Sunday, the fixtures fall well, with three at home, so it’s down to us. The last two games are against Inst and CI, would be great to have a cushion going into them.”
Derriaghy is the place to be if you want to watch North West legend Ardmore’s Decker Curry and another classic encounter beckons at Shaw’s Bridge with Instonians hosting Brigade.
Up country, it’s Bready v Lisburn, Donemana v CSNI, Eglinton v North Down and Strabane v Carrickfergus.