There is no disputing the highlight of Bready’s 2014 season.
The Sunday they beat Waringstown in the Ulster Cup final at Strabane Park will be remembered with affection for many a year at Magheramason.
If Bready are going to retain the trophy and the title of champions of Ulster, they are going to have to do it the hard way.
They begin the defence on Saturday at arguably one of the toughest venues in Ireland – The Green, home of North Down.
The long-time NCU kingpins may not be quite the force of old but Marty Moreland’s team demonstrated last Saturday during a ruthless dismantling of Lisburn, that they remain a force to be reckoned with.
David Scanlon, the Bready captain, doesn’t deny that he was holding out for a kinder first-round draw.
“It’s a tough game for us first up as we try and defend the trophy,” said Scanlon. “They are still a very good team and we are looking forward to going there.
“They have lost quite a few players, Nick Larkin, James Cameron-Dow and Ryan Haire, but they have a new pro in (Pieter) Malan and we’ve heard a bit about their new young fast bowler (Peter Davison). There is talk about him being close to the Knights squad and he could be the surprise package this season. We will be wary of him.”
Watching the young pretender Davison, who is just 19, going head to head with the proven quality of Craig Young, the Ireland fast bowler, is an intriguing prospect.
Young didn’t bowl for Bready last Saturday because of a lingering hamstring complaint but if he comes through tonight’s Twenty20 match between North West Warriors and Leinster Lightning in Dublin, Scanlon will unleash him on Saturday.
“I’ve been pleased with how we’ve started, apart from the game at Coleraine,” said Scanlon. “Winning this cup last year was massive for us, we are going to North Down with our heads screwed on, it’s our cup and we want to defend it. There will be a lot of fight in the lads.”
Five first-round ties are scheduled for tomorrow with Civil Service North of the NCU favourites to beat Ardmore at Stormont. NCU Section One side Coleraine, who have already toppled Coleraine this season, will be looking for another North West scalp at Eglinton.
St Johnston host Carrickfergus in the other match based in the North West.
With Strabane, Instonians and CIYMS all involved in Irish Cup rearrangements, Brigade, Waringstown and Coleraine are left kicking their heels this weekend.
It is an error of scheduling dictated by the overwhelming priority given to interprovincials.