STRABANE AND FOX LODGE UP FOR THE CUP

There’s a huge Tyrone derby down for decision as Strabane take on Fox Lodge in the Eric Cooke final at Strabane Park (6pm).

While both sides have been inconsistent in the league, they both turned in their most impressive displays of the season in fantastic semi-finals victories against favourites Newbuildings and Ardmore.

Skippers Aaron Gillespie and Aaron Heywood are both keen to capture the prestigious trophy, named in honour of the former international umpire.

“It’s a game that we are very much looking forward to,” said Strabane captain Aaron Gillespie.

“It’ll be a good experience for the team as not many of the guys have had the opportunity to play in a final, so it'll be an occasion that will be very beneficial.

“It is a match that we are confident we can go into and win as our T20 form has been excellent this year and really helps that we can go out with a clear mindset and play with freedom and not having to think about things too much.

“In T20 anything can happen as it only takes one person to come off and I feel we have the talent in our team that someone can produce.

“We know it’s going to be a tough game as they also have a few players that are capable of turning a game so it’ll be a close thrilling contest. It’s been a tough last few weeks as injuries/ work commitments haven’t allowed us to pull out the strongest team, but although we haven’t picked the team yet, we have a full panel to choose from.”

It’s a similar story for his Fox Lodge counterpart Aaron Heywood, whose side have also been hampered by availability problems in recent weeks.

“It’s all set up to be a cracking game of cricket at an excellent ground, and hopefully the weather plays ball,” began Heywood.

“There should be a good crowd and hopefully we can put on a good spectacle for them. Our form has been up and down but to be honest we have placed more emphasis on the cup competitions rather than the league in recent weeks.

“We are going to go in all guns blazing and hopefully give a good account of ourselves starting on Friday night. While we haven’t been at our best in the longer format due to the aforementioned availability issues with double-headers, we have produced some excellent displays in the T20 game.

“We know it will be tough against a strong Strabane side, with Aaron Gillespie showing just how good he is with that brilliant hundred in the win over Newbuildings. From our perspective I’m looking for my team to show the hunger and fight necessary to get us over the line. We won’t need much motivation with a derby, in front of a crowd and with a trophy at stake, and hopefully we can get over the line.

“There won’t be many changes from our team that won the semi-final, with the majority of that eleven likely to start, but there are still one or two places still to be confirmed, but we should be more or less at full strength.