Busy opening weekend of North West season for Brigade
The new domestic cricket season gets going this Saturday as North West clubs take what will hopefully be their first steps in a full sporting summer.
While the slower rate of recovery in the south means that both Leinster and Munster have to wait a while longer, the two northern Unions will start with their T20 competitions this weekend.
The North West version is sponsored by the Best Western White Horse Hotel and will see the 15 senior clubs split in to three groups of four teams and one of three.
Restrictions are still very much in place of course - no changing rooms, showers or bars, and no spectators, except for a handful of ground staff at each venue meaning only the shorter format of the game is an option for now.
The NWCU had prepared for whatever eventualities they could think of for the nee season and so, progress permitting, will move to a 40-over league competition and the traditional 50-over Senior Cup competition as the summer unfolds.
Because of the uncertainty of previous months there has been little player movement over the close season with one or two notable exceptions. And while several clubs have named their overseas professional for 2021, the likelihood is that only a small number will be here and available to play come Saturday.
The T20 groups have thrown up some potentially exciting clashes for the early weeks and ‘Game of the Day’ in Week 1 could be at the Rectory where Glendermott entertain Bready.
The home side have lost Gordon Cooke, Ben Mills and the Barr brothers over the winter but have brought in one or two as well including Warriors player Nathan McGuire who will stay in the North West at least until the Leinster senior season starts.
It’s more of the same for Bready this year although former Ardmore and Coleraine all-rounder Steve Lazars has joined the Magheramason club.
Davy Scanlon will hope the return of overseas professional, Irosh Samarasooriya can help steer them back to the top of the pile.
Eglinton and Fox Lodge are two sides who will be along the same lines as last year and they too could serve up an interesting afternoon at the village venue.
Ballyspallen have lost their talisman Graham Kennedy and will rely on a fairly young squad this year. The Roe Valley men welcome an Ardmore side boosted by the addition of Rachit Gaur.
Last year’s Senior Cup winners, Donemana, are set to take on St Johnston while runners-up Brigade have two games on the opening weekend - Andy Britton’s side are at home to Killyclooney on Saturday before travelling to Strabane a day later.
The Beechgrove side have lost both Gaur and Ryan Hunter in the close season but should still have enough about them to start their season on a winning note.
Best Western White Horse Hotel T20 Fixtures (2pm)
Brigade v Killyclooney
Eglinton v Fox Lodge
Bonds Glen v Coleraine
Glendermott v Bready
Donemana v St Johnston
Ballyspallen v Ardmore
Strabane v Brigade