IT’S hard to believe but 26 years have passed since Strabane last lifted the NW Senior Cup. Back in 1993 Tony Johnston and Terence Patton senior combined to easily beat pre-game favourites Brigade. Patton starred with the ball taking 14 wickets and Johnson smashed 92 off just 52 balls to set-up a ten-wicket win.
Former Irish international Peter Gillespie is the sole Red Caps survivor from that famous win, and as their cup journey starts again this weekend at the North West’s newest senior club, Newbuildings, he acknowledges it’s going to be a difficult opener for his team.
“It’s certainly a tough place to go,” said the new Strabane skipper. “They had a good win at the weekend away at Fox Lodge, and last year were just one ball away from making the final which would have been an incredible achievement for such a new club.
“They have what looks to be a young side of paper, but the addition of Darnell McCallum gives them some firepower.
“We have to improve in areas but if we are at our best we are hopeful we can get the right result.”
Strabane’s opening Premier league game last week saw them throw away a promising position chasing a big score at Bready, but a batting collapse saw them fall just short.
“We were naturally disappointed, as we got close but didn’t play anywhere near our best!
“When we put the ball in the right area there was plenty on offer for the bowlers but we didn’t do it consistently enough and bowled too many four balls. We also dropped 3-4 half chances and at least two of them off Irosh so we could’ve been chasing less than 260 odd had we bowled and fielded better.
“We batted well and a great partnership between Chathura Peiris and Ryan Gallagher almost got us over the line but in losing the game by fine margins you can help but look back on moments where we could have helped ourselves.
Elsewhere in the Cup, Donemana will start favourites at home to Coleraine after comfortably beating the same opposition in the league at the weekend to make it two wins from two.
The Holm side have a great affinity with the competition, winning it six times in a row before losing out to Brigade last year as they attempted to make it a magnificent seven.
New skipper Andrew Riddles has the side playing a powerful brand of cricket, and a rejuvenated Dwayne McGerrigle epitomizes the strength and versatility of the club. Even without Andrew McBrine and a low-key start by their overseas professional, you get the feeling they could go all the way once again.
Bready face a tricky looking tie away at Glendermott, even if The Rectory side have struggled in their opening league games. The cup is a different prospect and while Bready will be favourites, they know they will have to battle to progress.
Fox Lodge host Ardmore and these two sides have played out some close matches in recent years and Saturday should be no different.
Burndennett gained a morale boosting win over Killyclooney, but they go to the lion’s den with an away day against holders Brigade. It would be one of the cup’s greatest shocks if they were to get anything from the contest.
Killyclooney will hope to kickstart their season at home to Bonds Glen, while the final tie has Ballyspallen entertaining St Johnston.
Saturday’s Cup matches get underway at 1pm, weather permitting.