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Brigade are aiming to fire out early warning to league rivals

By Ian Callender

Brigade would probably have preferred an easier start to their Long's SuperValu Premiership campaign tomorrow but if they can hit the ground running against Eglinton it would augur well for yet another title tilt.

While Donemana start favourites to complete what would be a first ever hat-trick of league and Senior Cup doubles, Brigade are expected to be their closest challengers once again, but Eglinton have the potential to improve on last year's fourth-place finish.

The return of Ifti Hussain has been the high-profile signing for Brigade but at the other end of the age scale, the import of leg spinner Kyle Magee from Bonds Glen could be just as significant.

Magee, a badminton international, is a big turner of the ball and having trained with the Ireland youth squads during the winter, is a teenager with a bright future. Brigade skipper Andy Britton will give him every opportunity to achieve his cricketing ambitions.

Eglinton have missed out on signing Adam McDaid, who has opted to stay in the Championship with relegated Drummond, but new professional Mikey Erlank flew in from South Africa yesterday and will play in tomorrow's match of the day.

Ireland international Stuart Thompson will lead a side which has been improving year on year since their promotion in 2012 and feel ready to mix it with the "big boys". With a trip to Donemana next weekend, they will have a good idea of how close they can get before May even begins.

Donemana's only change to their all-conquering side is the arrival of Malith Cooray, a 28-year-old Sri Lankan, as professional and supporters and team-mates will get their first sight of him at Bready when Tom Riddles could make a surprise but very welcome comeback.

Riddles suffered a heart attack after an innings last season and was told he would never play cricket again but a second opinion has said that playing the sport will not affect his long-term health and he has been practising in the nets.

Ardmore's home game against Coleraine pitches against one another two sides who could go in the opposite direction to last season.

The Bannsiders must cope without the Cooke brothers, David and Gordon, who have joined Glendermott while Ardmore, disappointed by their sixth-place finish, have snapped up South African Grant Mokoena and Steve Lazars, from Coleraine.

Fox Lodge and promoted - but weakened - Strabane are favourites for relegation and the fixture list has paired them together on the opening day.

Tomorrow's fixtures: Long's SuperValu Premiership: Ardmore v Coleraine, Bready v Donemana, Eglinton v Brigade, Fox Lodge v Strabane.

Championship: Burndennett v Drummond, Glendermott v Bonds Glen, Killyclooney v Newbuildings, St Johnston v Ballyspallen.

Robinson Services Section One: Donacloney Mill v Bangor, Lisburn v Cregagh, Lurgan v Laurelvale. Postponed: Derriaghy v Holywood, Downpatrick v Woodvale.

Belfast Telegraph

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