League rivals on collision course in NIBA Cup

Ewarts and Pickie in Cup action
Ewarts and Pickie in Cup action

Bangor’s grip on the NIBA Senior Cup will be put under early scrutiny as they begin their defence with a daunting trip to Whitehead on Wednesday, May 20.

The Seasiders won the trophy for the second successive year last season by defeating Dundonald, who were appearing in the final for the first time.

Bangor’s task will be made much more difficult due to the fact they they have lost three of last season’s triumphant side.

Simon Martin has moved to Private Greens League club Belmont, while Mark Bailie and Ireland international Graham McKee are not eligible to take part in any action until next month, the result of a hefty ban imposed by NIBA officials following an incident at Lisnagarvey last term.

“We work off a small squad of players, so it’s a testing time for the club,” said Bangor’s Robert Hastings.

“It’s the worst possible draw, but we must go there and give a good account of ourselves. We are the holders and we don’t want to surrender it cheaply.”

The eventual winners will earn home advantage agaisnt Cloughey in round two, scheduled for June 3.There will be a touch of revenge in the air when Portadown make the journey to Dundonald for the second time this month.

The Ports, who won the cup for the first time in 2012 -- beating Bangor in the final -- returned from Ballybeen on May 2 having pocketed six points following an impressive 30 shots victory.

And, the big incentive is that the winners will earn a home tie against Ormeau next time out.

NIBA first round: Musgrave v Londonderry Park, Dundonald v Portadown, Carrick v Lisnagarvey, Whitehead v Bangor, Dungannon v Curran, Clarendokn v Banbridge, Rathfriland v Dromore.