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Something has got to give in clash of the champions

By Ian Callender

It's the clash of the champions tomorrow when the O'Neill's Ulster Cup takes centre stage with Waringstown hosting Coleraine in the stand-out tie of first round day.

Something will have to give because both defending league champions have gone through the first six weeks of match action unbeaten, although Coleraine, like every other North West side, have exited the Irish Cup, losing a bowl-out to Merrion.

The Bannsiders joined Donemana at the top of the Premiership table on Wednesday night with an 87 runs victory over Drummond, captain Scott Campbell hitting 49 of his side's 195 for eight and Matthew Smyth then took four for 13 as last year's Championship winners were bowled out for 96.

Waringstown, though, will start firm favourites and have looked pretty much invincible in defence of their Premier League title, the margin of victory in their opening three games being 44 runs, eight wickets and, last Saturday, 79 runs against Civil Service North with Greg Thompson 80 not out and top scorer for the second time in those three games.

Opener James McCollum's confidence should be sky-high after his chanceless 79 in the second innings of his Ireland A debut in Scotland during the week and with last year's top batsman James Hall also scoring his first 50 last week it promises to be a tough challenge for Coleraine.

Holders North Down finally claimed their first 50-over win of the season against Derriaghy last week and already the Ulster Cup looks to be their only hope of a trophy; it should spur them to a successful first defence away to Eglinton who were in a strong position after the first night of their rearranged Premiership game against Strabane, whom they bowled out for 136, with Craig Averill taking four wickets.

The Red Caps host in-form Carrickfergus tomorrow while Civil Service North go into the lion's den that is Donemana.

There is no rest for the NCU's Premier League teams this week because all four games rained off on May 21 take place on Sunday and for six of the teams it is an extra early start as the European Football Championship has its say.

Instonians and Carrick, who are joint second and meet at Shaw's Bridge, have agreed a 10.30am start to ensure the game is finished before Northern Ireland kick-off in Nice, while the games at Derriaghy and North Down will begin at 11 o'clock.

A big crowd is expected at Queensway for the visit of near neighbours Lisburn - and the football match will be on the big screen in the club - while Waringstown will be out to keep their four points lead at the top with victory at The Green.

It is also derby day at Stormont where CSN host CIYMS, the one team who can concentrate on league action as they have a bye into the second round of the Ulster Cup.

The North West Premiership will be also be up to date by Sunday night after Ardmore meet Drummond in the one outstanding game while the Warriors are in inter-provincial action, away to Leinster Lightning in the one-day competition.

Fixtures Saturday (1.00pm) O'Neill's Ulster Cup first round: Derriaghy v Ardmore, Instonians v Brigade, Waringstown v Coleraine, Bready v Lisburn, Donemana v Civil Service North, Eglinton v North Down, Strabane v Carrickfergus

Ulster Bank League Section One: Academy v Saintfield, Ballymena v Armagh, Donaghacloney v Lurgan, Muckamore v Bangor

Section Two: Cregagh v Templepatrick, Dundrum v BISC, Holywood v Millpark, Laurelvale v Cliftonville

Section Three: Dungannon v Monaghan, Larne v Donaghadee, Newforge v Dunmurry, Victoria v Ards

Long's SuperValu Championship (1.00pm): Ballyspallen v Glendermott, Burndennett v Bonds Glen, Killyclooney v Fox Lodge, Newbuildings v St Johnston

Sunday: Inter-provincial Cup (10.45am): Leinster Lightning v North West Warriors

Ulster Bank Premier League (11.00am): Civil Service North v CIYMS (12.00), Derriaghy v Lisburn, Instonians v Carrickfergus (10.30am), North Down v Waringstown

Long's SuperValu Premiership: Ardmore v Drummond

Belfast Telegraph


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