After last weekend’s routine cup wins for many of the big guns the real action is set to get under way next month after the quarter final draw threw up some meaty clashes to look forward to.
Pick of the bunch was the first one out of the hat with Strabane at home to Donemana- a match that rarely fails to live up to its billing.
Richard Kee’s side blew away their early season cobwebs with a crushing win over St Johnston on Saturday, albeit the visitors were a long way from full strength for their mission improbable.
Still, you can only beat what’s in front of you and the manner in which Kamran Sajid and company went about their work suggested that they will once again be very difficult to dislodge in this competition.
Strabane’s win at Drummond was equally straightforward but a little less clinical however Tommy Barr’s side were never in danger at any time. The former champions are due a cup run after a series of disappointing showings but with home advantage they will be hoping to set the record straight this time and progress to the last four.
Bready and Fox Lodge were also in the hat for Sunday’s draw and both were handed away ties of differing degrees- Bready at Championship side Creevedonnell while the Foxies head to Beechgrove to take on the beaten finalists in each of the past two seasons.
Davy Scanlon’s side won the trophy in 2011 and the skipper was happy with the draw which sees them very warm favourites to reach the semi-finals once more.
“I’m happy with the draw for sure and if we play as we can then we should go through. That doesn’t mean we’ll be taking anything for granted- far from it- because we were favourites against Drummond last season and got knocked out.
“The boys did well to see off a decent Ardmore side at the weekend but we will be on our guard against Creevedonnell who have some very good players, especially Andy Barr who batted really well to get them past Burndennett”.
Fox Lodge will feel they’re not out of it against Gareth McKeegan’s men either, especially if professional Tabish Khan continues to find his feet over the coming weeks.
The Pakistani bowler has looked very useful so far but seems certain to improve as the pitches quicken during the summer and he could be a real handful. Despite the quality in the team the Ballymagorry boys will be underdogs going into the game but they won’t be overly fazed by that. All four quarter final matches are scheduled for Saturday 14 June.
Just as a footnote to Saturday’s Danske Bank senior cup games, the sponsors will now be nominating a Player of the Round after every stage of the tournament, and awarding a bottle of champagne to the winner.
The first round player is Bready’s David Barr who scored a century against Ardmore that proved to be the difference between the sides down at the Bleachgreen.
The opener, who is currently playing for the North West Warriors against Leinster Lightning at Magheramason, beat off competition from his brother Andy whose 87 not out allowed Creevedonnell to edge past Burndennett, and Kamran Sajid who returned stunning figures of 8 for 7 against St Johnston.