North West will attempt to halt the Mid Ulster juggarnaught in quarter final of the IIBA Men’s Inter-zone championship at Limavady on Saturday (2pm).
It’s a daunting mission against a team that has scribbled its name in the Boomer Cup history books, having hoisted the trophy on a record-breaking 10 occasions.
Mid Ulster are also the only team to have won the event five years on the bounce, from 1999-2003.
“They are a top team,” said North West’s Colleen Cochrane. “They are the side that everyone wants to beat. We’ll need to be at our best.
“We will take great heart from the performance of our ladies in the Inter-zone Championship last weekend. They travelled to Raphoe to beat the title holders Donegal. Hopefully, we can repeat that performance.”
North West, the 2008 cup winners, will be at full strength, with Jordan Mullen, who is due to make his Ireland debut in the ‘A’ International Series in March, back on board.
“There are a few changes to the team that beat Meath last time out,” added Colleen, who is in her first season as zone convenor .
“Jordan, Nigel Mearns and Charlie Mearns all come back into the line-up. There are also a few positional alterations. A certain amount of rebuilding has taken place –and there is now great morale in the squad, everyone is pulling together. Everyone is looking forward to the game.”
Any team containing current Ireland squad members, Leigh Harrison and Ryan ONeill, plus ex-internationals, Keith McCullagh and John Kennedy, cannot be taken lightly, particularily with home advantage.
Mid Ulster can also boost a formidable line-up – one that includes Irish trio Mark Wilson, Alan Paul and Colm McHugh.
“It’s a difficult tie, but one that we are relishing,” admitted Mid Ulster’s Seamus Kyne. “Although we enjoyed a good victory over South Tyrone last time out, we didn’t really get going . . . it was a flat performance. We know we can do better.
“But we played well in the British Top Team tournament last month. The team gelled really well. We must now keep that momentum going.”
Mid Ulster make two changes to the team that defeated South Tyrone. Brendan Kyne and Gary Merron are reinstated to the side.
“We are the title holders are are there to be shot at,” added Kyne. “We must be prepared to meet the challenge head on.”
The semi final prize is an away trip to either Armagh or West Down, who clash at Richhill tomorrow.
Both sides have met in recent years, with West Down winning a semi final showdown in 2008, while Armagh triumphed at the same venue 12 months later.
Armagh have big game players in Alan Roberts, Andrew Leckey, and Joe Beattie, but West Down will have the Wilson brothers – Dereck and Jonny – and Allan Johnston on board.