BEFORE the global pandemic struck, Fox Lodge Cricket Club were preparing for what they hoped was going to be another season in the North West Championship, but this time, one that would end in promotion back to the top flight.
Having fallen short of that goal last term, the Ballymagorry outfit, who have been boosted by the return of three experienced players – Dean McCarter, Andy McGinnis and Gareth Heywood – looked well placed to do just that, but then Covid-19 struck and their plans appeared to be in tatters.
However, with the restrictions issues during the subsequent lockdown easing, the North West Cricket Union’s 2020 campaign will get underway this coming weekend, although it will be like none before it.
Instead of two senior divisions – the Premiership and Championship – the 16 senior sides have been split into groups of four based on their proximity to other clubs. Each team will play the others twice, with the winners going into semi-finals of the Senior Cup, the runners-up go into the last four of another competition and so on and so forth so
everyone has something to play for for as long as possible.
“Everyone is going to play six games and then you go into a semi-final so it means everyone has something to play for,” explained ‘Foxies’ skipper Aaron Heywood, who believes the one-off format, which will see his side playing Strabane, Bready and Burndennett, is ideal for his developing side.
“If you told me last year we’d be playing the likes of Bready and Strabane I’d have thought you were mad but I think we have enough quality to be a senior team.
“It gives us a good chance this year to test ourselves because it’s a no-lose situation and with the likes of the three lads coming back in, we’re really looking forward to it.
“Our group is tough, it’s all local derbies, but we couldn’t be happier with the group because it will give us a good test against two good Premiership teams and a good Championship team in Burndennett who almost got promoted last year themselves.
“We always want to get promoted but, honestly, last year was probably too soon, we weren’t good enough so another year in Senior 2 wouldn’t have done us any harm, so that’s the good thing about this year, we’re getting the taste of senior cricket without any risk of relegation.”
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