...At the top end four clubs will battle for the two remaining Senior Cup semi-final spots and two at the other end of the ladder will look for their first league win. League points will be vital for teams at the top of the leagues, but quite a number of clubs have still to record their first win and they need to get it together soon or it will be a season to forget.
SENIOR CHALLENGE CUP
On the face of it CI should win comfortably against North Down at Comber and Civil Service North should be too experienced for Muckamore at Stormont on Sunday. Cup games are renowned for upsets, but it would take a huge swing in form for North Down to reverse the hammering they took against the CI Professionals two weeks ago with Nigel Jones and Johnny Thompson rampant. Muckamore will come face to face with former player Wayne Horwood who hit 85 in the previous round against Lisburn and big-hitting Wayne will relish the opportunity to land another big score.
Waringstown won’t waste the opportunity to join league leaders CI with a win over Ballymena at Eaton Park, but the basement battle between Lisburn and Carrick is a vital game for both as they have yet to win. Neither is in good form, but home advantage might sway it for Lisburn.
Section One could be an exciting league chase this season and maybe not the runaway win for Muckamore that everyone expects. Three teams sit at the top of the league table, but Muckamore are the only unbeaten club and should join them once they catch up on their fixtures after cup commitments. Muckamore should have too much firepower to falter against Templepatrick, but something has to give in the Derriaghy-Woodvale clash so it might be a disappointing day for the travelling Belfast fans.
Cliftonville and Donaghcloney enter the weekend without a win and they could leave it the same way, although Cliftonville might get the edge over an out-of-sorts Lurgan team. Downpatrick should maintain their league title chase at Academy and Bangor should win on the road at the Factory Ground. That leaves Templepatrick facing Cliftonville at home on Sunday and both need to win badly. I’ll go for a home win.
Armagh and Saintfield are the pacesetters so far this season, but Saintfield have a chance to pull ahead with a win over BISC as Armagh have a Junior Cup quarterfinal fixture. It’s a busy weekend for Cregagh, but it could be a good one with wins over Holywood and Larne, but winning at Holywood is not easy and this game could go either way. Dundrum are on the road at Laurelvale, but should have a much easier task.
League leaders Cooke Collegians and Millpark have cup commitments so the spotlight centres on the Dunmurry-Donaghadee match to see who will be in 3rd place come Saturday night. I think it will be Dunmurry who should cap a great weekend with a second win over Ards on Sunday. Ards go to Newforge on Saturday and need to win to kickstart their disappointing start to the season. This game could go either way and the same could be said for Dungannon hosting their ‘neighbours’ Monaghan. I’m going for Dungannon and Ards to win two close games.
Let’s hope the weather is kind and the cricket is terrific.