Ulster Cup spots are up for grabs as sides prepare to do battle

CSNI captain Nigel Jones
CSNI captain Nigel Jones

Donemana and Bready are the North West’s last remaining hopes of glory in the O’Neill’s Ulster Cup.

Despite having home advantage at Magheramason, Bready will be heavy underdogs against a North Down team who have been looking increasingly formidable in recent weeks. Ryan Haire, their captain, is arguably the form domestic player in Ulster.

Donemana, who owe their place in the last eight to a bye, also have a tough assignment at home against Lisburn. David Simpson’s team have struggled at times in the NCU but showed they remain a dangerous outfit by beating Brigade in their own backyard in the first round.

The clubs met at The Holm two years ago in this competition and Lisburn must have thought they were well in the contest after posting 240 for seven batting first.

However, an unbeaten century from Kamran Sajid and 68 not out from Andy McBrine helped Donemana cruise home by eight wickets with nine overs to spare.

Donemana, who have lost three of their four league matches, will be regarding the cup competitions as their likeliest source of silverware.

There are two all-NCU ties, the most intriguing at Shaw’s Bridge where Instonians and Waringstown meet for the first time this season. The villagers, runners-up a year ago, have still yet to win the Ulster Cup while Instonians have won it more than anyone else.

Meanwhile, CIYMS host Civil Service North, a team who have made a habit of saving their best cricket for the cups.

The CSNI captain Nigel Jones has identified this weekend as a pivotal one with Sunday’s tie preceded by a Challenge Cup quarter-final at home to Carrickfergus on Saturday.

“I have identified the next three weekends as very important for us,” said Jones.

“First up is Carrick and even though they have been playing in Section One still have a lot of players who we are very familiar with. You know what you are going to get from them and if they turn up and play well they are not a team you can afford to take lightly. But I still think it is all about us, if we produce what we are capable of then the game will look after itself.”

CSNI will include Allen Coulter on Saturday, after the fast bowler was rested from the Northern Knights squad during the week because of sore shins.

However, with Jones himself, Mark Adair and Shane Getkate all quality seam options, Coulter may well be rested from the CIYMS tie on Sunday. With such a formidable attack, if the batting fires this could be a serious outfit.

“There are no other club sides with the seam bowling attack we have,” said Jones. “It’s great that we have had agood start to the season without some of our batsmen really firing, the captain included. After this weekend we have Waringstown and Lisburn in the league next week and CI.

“If we win all those games we would be sitting pretty.”