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Cricket: In-form Gillespie hungry to return to the heat of battle

NCU: When Strabane finally return to action tomorrow, it will be three weeks since they reached the final of the Northern Bank Senior Cup and 18 days since their last league game kept them in contention to retain the Senior One league title.

The player who has missed out most on the extended break must, surely, be Mark Gillespie. The former Ireland international batsman scored 149 on his last visit to the middle, when Strabane topped 300 in just 40 overs against Glendermott at The Rectory.

That night Gillespie hit nine fours and a remarkable 13 sixes and when a batsman is in that sort of form, he can’t wait for his next innings. He, and Strabane, will be hoping he can pick up where he left off because the opposition tomorrow is Limavady, the league leaders and defending joint league champions.

A victory for the Roesiders would open the gap over the Red Caps to six points and halfway through the season it could be a win too far for Strabane.

Currently squeezed between the joint champions in the table are Fox Lodge and Bready, the latter after their midweek victory over Glendermott. It is Fox Lodge’s turn to visit The Rectory tomorrow and after being skittled for 69 at Donemana last Sunday, their batsmen have something to prove but it should be straightforward for Bready when they travel to St Johnston.

On Sunday it is the big charity cricket day of the year in the North West with the Sperrin Springs-sponsored Faughan Valley Cup finals day at Beechgrove. As usual the double-header starts with the Senior Two final followed by Derry’s finest against Tyrone’s best in this year’s Senior One Twenty20 decider.

The final is a repeat of last year’s game between Limavady and Fox Lodge, which the Roesiders won by four runs. Admission on the day is £5 and £3 with all gate receipts and donations going to local charities.

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Tomorrow’s fixtures (1pm): Coleraine v Donemana, Eglinton v Brigade, Glendermott v Fox Lodge, Limavady v Strabane, St Johnston v Bready (12.30pm).

Sunday: Faughan Valley Sperrin Springs Cup final: Fox Lodge v Limavady (after Senior Two final) Bonds Glen v Drummond (1pm).

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