Scanlon in the spotlight as ClubTurf Ulster Cup gets under way
SCANLON IN THE SPOTLIGHT AS ULSTER CUP GETS UNDER WAY
There's another seriously congested programme ahead for North West senior clubs with a full round of Ulster Cup ties on Saturday flanked by 5 league fixtures in three days as action continues thick and fast. Taking the hot-seat this week is David Scanlon, the man who took over the captaincy at Bready during the winter and who is trying to build on the Magheramason club's senior cup win in 2011.
Bready's campaign started better than most people expected this time with league wins over Coleraine and Brigade before they were very narrowly beaten at The Hills in the Bob Kerr Irish Senior Cup but they lost their way a little in defeat at Glendermott after that. Scanlon's side returned to winning ways in the Northern Bank Senior Cup at home to Sion Mills last weekend but the skipper still felt that there was improvement in the team.
“We started off really well but we haven't quite been getting the rub of the green at times. We felt we were on the wrong end of a couple of very big decisions in the All-Ireland defeat and then at Glendermott we had to go back out to bat for 25 minutes after we bowled them out early. There's an old adage that you can't win a game in half an hour but you can certainly lose one and that had a big bearing on our game. On hindsight we might have been better to have kept them in for a few overs but that's the way it goes.
"The bottom line is that we can lament the odd twist or turn but we know full well we didn't turn up at the Rectory. I wouldn't like to think that there was any complacency on our part but we didn't bat well. Truth to tell we haven't been batting all that well anyway and it is an area we need to improve”.
Despite losing Steven Clarke to injury before the season started the skipper acknowledged that David Barr had been an excellent addition to the team and he felt that there were big scores in the side. “David has started really well and has a good partnership going with David Rankin and you would think that with Agha (Sabir) at 3, Bryan (Scanlon) at 4, Mark Olphert at 5, Brian Crumley at 6, Ian Young at 7, and then myself, James Long, Marc Fleming and Adam Warnock making up the 11 that runs shouldn't be a problem. I'm more frustrated than annoyed if truth be told as I know we're much better than we've shown”.
While its a big responsibility there seems little doubt that the skipper is relishing his new role and he agreed that was the case. “I'm a hands-on captain and that means the boys have to listen to a bit” he smiled “You can imagine the stuff they had to take to after the Rectory match with me stranded at one end on 52, but honestly speaking I love the buzz and the challenges of being captain”.
As for his ambition for the season there were some seriously mixed emotions over what trophy he would like to hold aloft the most. “Personally speaking I would love to win the league and bring that to Magheramason but I know what winning the cup meant to this club last year and we're desperate to hold onto it. We're away to Burndennett for a place in the semi finals and while we will be taking absolutely nothing for granted up there I am confident we can win. The double would be nice but if I was offered either one now I would gladly accept”.
As for the challenges ahead Scanlon felt that next weekend's game at The Holm would go some way to defining their summer. “Donemana are on a roll and for me this could well be our biggest game of the season. Limavady, Strabane and Brigade are all really strong sides but they've all shown that they are beatable so this could be vital to both teams. I don't want to do a dis-service to Coleraine either; I was really impressed by them in our opening league match and Scott Campbell's century was as good as I've seen in some time. They have a chance this year, make no mistake about that, in fact them and Donemana look the teams to beat in the title race but I really believe that we are in the mix ourselves. An extra player could make all the difference to us and I've been working Trevor Hamilton over to see if I can get him back on board for the busy summer months and he hasn't ruled himself out completely”.
Turning to the weekend games then and we asked the Bready skipper to give us his thoughts on the Ulster Cup games taking place this year for the first time on a Saturday-
Instonians v Glendermott
Gordon Montgomery will be well pleased that they followed up their win over us by beating Bonds Glen in the cup and that will have lifted confidence in the camp. They're starting to show a bit more depth now with Simon Killen, Bob Robinson, Roy Silva, Stuart Cochrane and the skipper himself all contributing. This looks a really big ask for them though and it will need a big turnaround for them to nick it.
North Down v Limavady
This is the tie of the round with two teams from the top ends of their respective regions. North Down are strong in all departments but especially their batting. Limavady have blown hot and cold at times this year but are at their most dangerous when their backs are to the wall. It looks like being an excellent match up and the difference could be something as minimal as home advantage.
CIYMS v Coleraine
The Belfast side was expected to sweep all before it this season having added quality like Ryan Butterworth, Timur Khan, Jeremy Bray and Chris Dougherty but they haven't gelled as a unit yet and have been very inconsistent. On their day they have the players to beat anyone but they are crossing swords with one of the most in-form teams in the country at present. Ian McGregor's side looks to fear no-one at the minute and if the youngsters aren't overawed, the visitors could win.
Strabane v Derriaghy
You have to feel for Strabane and what started off as a promising season could fall down as a result of losing two of their big players. Peter and Mark Gillespie have come into form at the right time but without McDonnell or a professional, and indeed without Mark Roulston as well they will always be vulnerable. If they sort those issues out they will be hard to beat but even without that they should have too many guns for the NCU outfit.
Fox Lodge v CSNI
The one thing you can say about this match is that weather permitting it should be high scoring. The visitors are back on track after a slow start domestically and enjoyed a big win over Phoenix last weekend. The Foxies have been threatening to take a major scalp this year but keep coming up just short in trying to chase those large targets. The bowling remains a touch light however and the Belfast side probably start slight favourites if only on the back of that.
Donemana v Lisburn
The Holm side are still undefeated but face a real challenge here from a Lisburn team who hammered CIYMS at the weekend. Robert Rankin will be returning to the North West with the visitors who of course have Darryl Brown as their overseas professional and that pair will have warned their team-mates what to expect. Donemana look so solid at present though and will be protecting their unbeaten record for dear life and while this will be a lot closer than most people might think, the North West team can shade it.
Brigade v Carrick
This pair seems to meet twice a year nearly every year and the Beechgrove side usually comes out on top. They look slightly more vulnerable this season than they have in the past but they still keep grinding out results in the big games. Johnny Thompson has started the season in good shape and if they bat well I would expect Brigade to add to their impressive head-to head record.