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North West Warriors facing big fight to retain title

By Ian Callender

North West Warriors begin their defence of the Inter-provincial Twenty20 Trophy at Merrion tomorrow (5pm) knowing defeat would almost certainly hand the title to Leinster Lightning.

This year's fixture list gave Lightning the first three matches and with home and away wins over Northern Knights already under their belts, a bonus point win would put them in a virtually unassailable position.

The only way Warriors could retain the title was if they won their three remaining games with bonus points.

And a look at the respective strengths of the two teams makes Lightning hot favourites to complete a hat-trick of wins.

The hosts have made just one change to the team which hammered the Knights by 53 runs last Friday and they are strengthened by the return of batsman/wicket-keeper Fintan McAllister in place of young Lorcan Tucker.

With eight internationals, including last week's top scorer John Anderson boosted by a return to the Ireland squad for next month's Intercontinental Cup match against UAE, they have twice as many as the Warriors who will rely heavily on captain Andy McBrine, Stuart Thompson, Craig Young and Graeme McCarter.

A fifth international, Andy Britton, is out due to work commitments while Aaron Gillespie has an exam and William McClintock, who played in Sunday's 50-over defeat to the Knights at Coleraine, is injured.

Opening batsmen David Barr, who scored 86 for Bready in the Senior Cup, and Brigade's Ryan Hunter are recalled.

Spare a thought for Stuart Thompson who travels to Dublin tomorrow, returns to Eglinton for an Ulster Cup match on Saturday and is at Downpatrick on Sunday for the Warriors' three-day game against the Knights.

Leinster Lightning: J Mooney (capt), J Anderson, A Cusack, K Carroll, E Delany, T Kane, F McAllister, A Poynter, E Richardson, M Sorensen, F Tucker, Yaqoob Ali

North West Warriors: A McBrine (capt), S Thompson, C Young, G McCarter, D Rankin, D Barr, C Averill, G McClintock, R Chopra, S Campbell, R Hunter, RL Dougherty

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