When Limavady played Donemana in the 1999 Northern Bank Senior Cup final it was to set the pattern for an almost unbroken decade of dominance by the two clubs in the most popular knock-out competition in the country.
Now the only cup with a two-day final — because spectators and players still rate the showpiece as the highlight of the season — the Roesiders and the men from The Holm have been involved in all but two of the deciders this millennium.
Limavady’s record is remarkable. Of the last 11 finals they have won six and been knocked out three times by Donemana who have gone on to win the trophy in three of the other years.
So all roads lead to Drummond tomorrow for the quarter-final tie, transferred because of the ongoing drainage work at the John Hunter Grounds.
On this season’s form it should have one of the more predictable outcomes. Since Limavady lost their opening league match to fellow defending league champions Strabane, they have won every match, while Donemana have already lost three of their first five league games, including a home mauling by today’s opponents who are already out of both the Irish Cup and Ulster Cup.
There is no reason to believe that the awesome Limavady batting line-up — in a couple of games this season Decker Curry and Andrew Riddles have not batted in the top seven! — will fail, while Donemana’s batting has let them down too often for their own good. It will be a major surprise if the Roesiders are not in their 10th semi-final in 12 years.
There should be good odds on four home wins in tomorrow’s quarter-finals with Strabane the only ‘banker’. They entertain Ardmore, who lost in the last round to St Johnston but won a reprieve because the Donegal side fielded an unregistered player.
Burndennett are the last unbeaten team in the North West and the Senior Two side will be confident of passing their toughest test, at home to Eglinton who have lost all five Senior One games, while Brigade cannot afford any slip-ups against Coleraine who have proven they are a match for anyone when Ian McGregor, Mohammad Salman and Tim Chopra all fire.
Tomorrow’s fixtures: Northern Bank Senior Cup quarter-finals (1.00pm): Brigade v Coleraine, Burndennett v Eglinton, Limavady v Donemana (Drummond), Strabane v Ardmore. Senior One: Fox Lodge v Bready. Sunday: Coleraine v Brigade.