Coleraine and Bready lead charge in quest for T20 glory
Twenty20 action takes centre stage this weekend with the final of the North West Cup taking place at Bready and the NCU semi-finals at Muckamore and Waringstown.
There is an extra incentive for the provincial winners this season as they qualify for All-Ireland finals day at The Lawn on August 20, alongside the Leinster and Munster champions.
Coleraine or Bready, who meet at Magheramason on Sunday, will be the first confirmed finalists.
Both teams won their groups but while Bready then had to defeat Ardmore in the semi-finals, Coleraine were handed a bye into the final when injury-hit Donemana could not field a team.
Muckamore have been the surprise team in the NCU's competition.
They won all six group games to earn a home tie against North Down tomorrow, while Waringstown face Instonians in the other semi-final, starting two hours later. The final is down for decision on Sunday week.
Back in the North West, there is a full programme of league games tomorrow with Coleraine returning to pole position after their league win over Drummond last week.
Skipper David Cooke described that match as a "horrible game" with the basement side getting within 29 runs of the Bannsiders' total and denying them four points.
Today, by a quirk of the fixture list, they are away to Bready in the league, the first half of the double header between the teams, and Cooke says the 25 points at stake tomorrow are more important than a T20 cup success.
Both teams will be anxious to know if Ireland opening bowler Craig Young will be fit to play for Bready after being pulled out of the Wolves match this week as it could have a big bearing on the result.
Donemana are just seven points off the lead but have still last Sunday's postponed game against Bready to rearrange but first they have to beat Ardmore at the ground where they completed the league and cup double last season.
The champions should be confident as the Bleachgreen side are on quite a losing streak with even Decker Curry struggling for runs.
Brigade are still within one win of the top two and will also be confident of maintaining that position after their home game against winless Drummond and Fox Lodge could also be cut adrift if they lose to Eglinton.
Fixtures (12.00), tomorrow: Lagan Valley Steels T20 Cup semi-finals: Muckamore v North Down, Waringstown v Instonians (2pm)
Gardiner Bros Section One: Armagh v Derriaghy, Downpatrick v Bangor, Holywood v Lurgan, Woodvale v Donaghcloney Mill. Sunday: Cliftonville v Academy
Section Two: Cooke Collegians v BISC, Cregagh v Laurelvale, Donaghadee v Larne, Dundrum v Saintfield, Templepatrick v Ballymena. Sunday: Saintfield v Donaghadee
Section Three: Victoria v Monaghan (1.00)
Long's SuperValu Premiership (1.00): Ardmore v Donemana, Brigade v Drummond, Bready v Coleraine, Fox Lodge v Eglinton
Championship: Ballyspallen v Killyclooney, Glendermott v Burndennett, Newbuildings v Bonds Glen, St Johnston v Strabane
SUNDAY: Eric Cooke Plate final: Strabane v St Johnston (Bready). Faughan Valley Cup Final (4.00): Bready v Coleraine