Cookstown will require little motivation when they face St James’s Gate in round two of the IBA’s Senior Cup at Gunningmore Park on Saturday.
The County Tyrone boys are still coming to terms with the shock of being dumped out of the Piggott Cup by little Ballycastle last week.
They were hot favourites to send the Provincial minnows, a team that has won only once in the league this season packing, but Ballycastle had other ideas as they recorded a sensational four shots victory!
Cookstown got back to winning ways by pocketing six points from their home Senior League outing against City of Derry at the weekend, but that cup defeat will make them even more determined when they roll out the welcome mat for the Bowling League of Ireland side in the game’s top knockout tournament at the weekend.
“The Ballycastle result was a bit of a shock to the system,” said Cookstown’s Colin Hogg. “Perhaps, a little bit of complacency crept in. Maybe we were eyeing up a semi final place and not focusing on the job in hand. After all, we haven’t had our hands on the Piggott Cup since 2007.
“But I don’t want to take away from the performance of Ballycastle. They battled for everything and actually won on three rinks.
“So we can have no complaints. We must now use that result and a motivational factor for our IBA Cup game.
“St James’s Gate are a top side with the likes of the Leonards, Gareth Pierpoint and Stephen Millane in their team. They have gone close to winning the cup in recent years. They were beaten by Dunluce in the 2011 final, so we’ll need to be at our best.”
Cookstown have Sean Quinn back in their ranks this season following a spell with Portglenone, while Michael Trimby has made the step up from the B team.
“Those are the only changes to the squad,” added Hogg.
“Our policy is to develop our own players. We have a good committed squad.
“We got back on track after the Ballycastle shock by beating City of Derry last weekend.
“But we now face our biggest test so far against St James’s Gate. They’ve been knocking at the door for some time. But they’ll know they’ve been in a game on Saturday, there is no question about that. We’ll be up for it.”
Meanwhile, something must give in a number of other ties meet that will guarantee a number of the big guns making an early exit.
Two PGL giants that were fancied for a serious tilt at the trophy, Belmont and Old Bleach - the current holders - will clash at Kincora Avenue, while there are two NIBA showdowns on the cards with Whitehead entertaining Divis and Balmoral making the trip to Lurgan.
It’s a repeat of last weekend’s league fixture, where the Belvoir Park team were surprisingly turned over by the Craigavon outfit.
North West clubs Coleraine, who are unbeaten in the league to date, and Portrush will be looking to make the most of home comforts when they play host to Portadown and Pickie, respectively, while Ballymoney will little sleep with a pending visit to Albert Foundry looming.
Irish Bowling Association Senior Cup, second round: Albert Foundry v Ballymoney, Bangor v Mossley, Belmont v Old Bleach, Coleraine v Portadown, Cookstown v St James’s Gate, Crumlin v City of Derry, CYM v Letterkenny, Dromore v Leinster, Dunbarton v Dunluce, Dundonald v Bray, Larne v Lisnagarvey, Lurgan v Balmoral, Portrush v Pickie, Rathfriland v Carrick, Whitehead v Divis, Ballymena v Aer Lingus.
Irish Bowling Association Junior Cup, second round: Balmoral v Castlerock, Bray v Old Bleach, Brookgreen v Rathfriland, Cookstown v Carrick, Dunluce v Antrim, Falls v ICICYMA, Forth River v Lurgan, Kilrea v Hilden, Letterkenny v Dunbarton, Pickie v Willowfield, Portadown v Lisnagarvey, Portrush v Ewarts, Ulster Transport v Ballycastle, Ballymoney v Coleraine, Whitehead v Dromore.
NI Private Greens League: Division Two: Castleton v Ballywalter, NICS v Comber, Falls v Hilden, Salisbury v Cliftonville.
Division Three: Ballymena B v PSNI, Belmont B v Shaftesbury, Cavehill v Shorts, Ballaher v Knock, North Belfast v Saintfield.
Division Four: Malone v Larne B.
Division Five: Comber B v Belmont D, Cliftonville B v Ewarts B.
Northern Ireland Bowling Association Division Two: Donaghadee v Dungannon, Sydenham v Bessbrook.
Division Three: St Stephen’s v Markethill, Cloughey v Clarendon, Musgrave v Newtownabbey.
Division Four: Banbridge B v Newcastle, Queen’s Island v Holywood, Ulster Maple Leaf v North Down, Finaghy v BETS.
Division Five: Castle B v Warrenpoint, Lagan Valley v Windsor.
Division Six: Curran B v Divis B, Musgrave B v Donaghadee B, 58th Old Boys v Gilnahirk.