The North West Women’s season kicks off tonight (MON) with three games down for decision.

There’s a welcome return for Strabane Saints who didn’t compete in 2020, with their first match an away day trip to Zara Craig’s Eglinton.

“First and foremost, Strabane Saints are very much looking forward to the coming season, after not competing in last season’s competitions, said a club spokesperson.

“With Covid restrictions and more than half the team being employed as frontline workers, the team and coaching staff took the difficult decision not to enter last year. It has been 100% commitment by the ladies since their formation and because they couldn’t give that level, they decided it wouldn’t be right to enter a team.

Strabane Saints

“A few of the Strabane girls played for other teams last season but are back with the Saints for the coming season and the excitement levels are high. The popular Megan Moorehead will be at the helm again in 2021 and the squad will include North West ladies’ players Angie Porter, Chloe Deans and Lucy McGranaghan.

“The Club has high hopes that this can be a breakthrough season for Chloe, Lucy and the talented duo of Emma Doherty and Louise Beattie, the latter who is incidentally the granddaughter of former North West player John Beattie.

“The Saints have bolstered their playing ranks with the addition of a few new players, including Mokshi Raina, wife of Strabane men’s cricketer Karan Raina.”

Bready start their season with a home fixture against Coleraine, who like Strabane are back in action after a hiatus. The Magheramson side are led by interprovincial player Alana Dalzell, who will have all-rounder Jemma Rankin back in the squad after missing the past few seasons. Vanessa Buchanan is ruled out though.

Zara Craig, Mollie Devine and Alana Dalzell will all be captains this year

“There’s been a really good turnout at training the past few weeks, with a mixture of younger girls as well as older girls interested in playing in the new development league,” Dalzell told CricketEurope.

“I feel we have quite a strong senior team with a good bit of experience this year, and hope to be challenging again for the league and the cup. Our first match on Monday is against Coleraine, and it’s really exciting to see another new team join the league.”

Fox Lodge have been the team to beat this past few years and the defending champions begin with a home tie against Killyclooney, another side back in the league.

Cody Wallace is entrusted with the captain’s armband at Killyclooney and she’s relishing the start of the new season.

“We are all feeling really excited about the start of the new season. All my team mates feel the same, and we can’t wait to get out there.

“We have a nice blend of youth and experience, and we all can’t wait to taking the field and having support from our spectators from next week.”

Fox Lodge will be aiming for their fourth cup win in succession

Fox Lodge, cup winners for the past three seasons, are being led by Sarah Black and Mollie Devine, while one new addition to their line-up is Lucy Neely, who comes in from Burndennett.

The new Development League starts on Wednesday, while the first matches in the U13 girls’ league are on Tuesday.

WOMEN’S FIXTURES (6:30pm)

Bready v Coleraine; Fox Lodge v Killyclooney; Eglinton v Strabane .