Sports

Historic date awaits busy North West Warriors

Thursday, 25 May 2017

THERE is a frenetic programme of cricket ahead of the North West Warriors in the coming week as Ian McGregor's charges will be in action across all three formats in the Hanley Energy Interprovincial series.

It's a real bonanza of top-level cricket for local supporters and one that the Union hopes will bring spectators out in large numbers.

This coming Friday night the Warriors will entertain Leinster Lightning at Bready in the opening T20 fixture- a format the local side has certainly enjoyed some measure of success in over the life of the competition. Head Coach McGregor certainly believes that his charges can push for honours again having won the competition in 2014 and finished runners-up to the all-conquering southerners in the intervening couple of campaigns.

"I feel we are definitely improving year on year" said the former opening batsman, "and this format really seems to suit us."

"Our clubs produced some excellent performances in the first round of the Irish Senior Cup recently so I know the players are at the top of their form. The challenge now will be to bring that to this higher level."

The Union is intent on promoting Friday night as a family occasion and general manager Peter McCartney has promised an evening of fun as well as the quality cricket.

"We see T20 cricket as an opportunity for all the family to come out and enjoy the best of what the sport here has to offer. As well as a host of International cricketers on show we will also have a primary school "blitz" with face painting, a bouncy castle, barbecue and music. There will be plenty of refreshments available too and I know the Warriors would really appreciate a big support."

Following the T20 event, the Warriors will turn their attentions to the Northern Knights as the teams meet at Strabane Park next Tuesday at 10.45 am in the 50-over Interprovincial Cup. 

Having tasted defeat in Dublin in their first match, the home side will be keen to get back on track, but face very stiff competition from Simon Johnston's outfit.

The Knights have been working very hard throughout the winter and are likely to prove a real handful and a similar scenario looks assured when the same two teams head to Eglinton the following day for what will be an historic occasion for Irish cricket.

With the Hanley Interprovincial Championship now carrying First Class status, the three-day match will be the first time that a domestic game has been played at that lofty standard anywhere in Ireland. It is a landmark day for Cricket Ireland without doubt, but it has also struck a chord with Warriors captain Andy McBrine, himself of course an Ireland International. 

"I am honoured to be leading the Warriors out in this historic game and I know how much this means to everyone involved in Irish cricket. This is probably what we dreamed we would be doing when the Interpros started and now that it is a reality we must make sure we do it justice."

"The Warriors may have won only one game in this format since it began however we haven't fared as badly as it looks. We have drawn nine of the others and our performances have been getting better every year."

"I feel that even when things got tough in the past we refused to take a step back. It is what we do best and while we need to learn to bat for longer, we're very capable of competing with anyone across the three formats this summer."

On behalf of the North West Union, chairman Andrew Fleming suggested that next Tuesday would hopefully mark a new dawn for cricket in Ireland.  

"Obviously we have to await the outcome of the ICC meeting next month but there are clear positive vibes that this now First Class competition could be the precursor for bigger and better things for cricket in Ireland." 

"Should that be the case the sport here in the North West would benefit through investment in facilities and infrastructure and there is reason to be optimistic about a fully professional North West Warriors, on and off the pitch, representing this region and its clubs. What a boost to the region that would be... if it came to pass."

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