Brian Leonard hoping for Civil Service giant-killing act in IBA Senior Cup

Brian Leonard of NICS
Brian Leonard of NICS

Northern Ireland Civil Service’s Brian Leonard is hoping his team can become the latest ‘shock-troopers’ in the current IBA Senior Cup campaign.

Right form the outset, many big guns have been dumped out of the game’s top knockout tournament, including Ballymena, Whitehead, Balmoral, Larne and holders Coleraine.

NICS defeated Hilden in the second round and were due to play Cookstown on June 7 only for the game to be washed out due to torrential rain that affected a number of ties.

Those matches were completed last weekend, taking preference over league games, but with the UK Pike Band contest staged at Stormont, IBA officials again had to rearrange the final third round tie.

So, NICS at last can roll out the welcome mat for the Provincial side on Saturday and they are not ruling out the possibility of yet another shock taking place.

“There have been some freak results in this competition, there is no question about that,” said Leonard. “Who would have ever thought Ballywalter would win on all four rinks at Ballymena in the second round?

“We actually lost to Ballymena in the PGL Senior Cup, but a few days previous to that, we beat Ballywalter quite handily, winning by 20-odd shots. So it proves that anything can happen in this game.

“We’ll be underdogs going in against Cookstown. They have been playing very well in their league have some quality players.

“It’s a big ask as far as we are concerned. But we’ll take heart from the shocks that have already taken place in the competition. Even last week little Ballycastle travelled with little hope to Larne, who were sitting at the top of the PGL Division One, but managed to spring another surprise.

“The pressure is all on Cookstown - basically it’s down to whoever puts in the performance on the day.”

Meanwhile, Divis face their first big test of the campaign, even though this will be their fourth outing in the tournament - they were one of only eight teams that were pulled out of the hat for a first round game.

They have seen off the challenge of Newtownabbey, City of Derry and Letterkenny, but now come up against their NIBA Division One rivals Lisnagarvey at Falls Park.