CSN and Town set to renew rivalry
The Ulster Bank Challenge Cup final on Friday week will be between Waringstown and Civil Service North, just as it was in 2008 when the Stormont side won a thriller by four runs and in 2011 when the Villagers won.
While this year's finalists may may have been predicted before yesterday's semi-finals, the surprise was that Downpatrick gave CSN the closest match.
Indeed when the newly-crowned Twenty20 Cup holders were reduced to 38 for three, chasing 187 for victory, the Section One side, for whom John Wheeler was the star performer with the ball, were threatening to become the first team from outside the top flight to reach the final for eight years.
But Andrew Cowden and Friday night's man of the match Griffin Nieuwoudt then added 81 for the fourth wicket before the South African was caught for 44.
That brought captain Nigel Jones to the wicket and, despite batting on virtually one leg, he stayed with the resolute Cowden to take his side to the winning post with 22 balls to spare.
Jones had no intention of playing in the game, after pulling a hamstring in the T20 final win over North Down, and sat out Saturday's Premier league game against Lisburn.
But CSN, without him, contrived to make such a mess of that game – they were bowled out for 86 by Instonians, costing them a share of the league leadership – that he took his place in the line-up.
Without his 10 overs as a bowler, Downpatrick totalled 186, bowled out in 48 overs, thanks to John Costain taking five for 37, but Jones' presence as a batsman was duly rewarded.
CIYMS completed a miserable weekend at Belmont when, 24 hours after losing to Lisburn in the league, they could put up only minimal resistance to Waringstown – again.
This was the teams' third meeting of the season, and all at Belmont. In the league, they lost by 91 runs, in the original cup game Waringstown racked up 304 before it was abandoned by rain and yesterday they could muster only 155 for nine in their 50 overs with Nathan Waller the lone bright spark, scoring 56 with eight boundaries, half of them sixes.
The destroyers in chief, not for the first time, were Greg Thompson and man of the match Gary Kidd.
In the league game, the two slow bowlers took seven wickets for 49 and yesterday they bowled their 20 overs for figures of five for 28.
Thompson got the wicket of Waller and also caught Chris Dougherty off Kidd, who finished with the remarkable figures of 10-5-11-2.
It was all too easy for Waringstown in the reply with James McCollum completing a marvellous week, which started with an innings of 94 for the Ireland Under-19s against the Netherlands, and finished with 55 of the Villagers' first 107 runs.
Another of the Waringstown young guns then finished the job, Adam Dennison was 58 not out when they reached their target in only the 37th over.
The only sting in the tail for Waringstown is that Thompson will miss the final. He was married on Friday but does not go on honeymoon until next week.
North Down, following their league win at Ballymena on Saturday, missed the chance to take the outright lead when they crashed at home to Instonians yesterday by 47 runs.
The Shaw's Bridge side, who move into a four-way tie with CIYMS, Waringstown and their beaten opponents, scored 181 on a turning pitch at The Green.
Ben Wylie, on his first weekend back home from university, then took four wickets, while Zach Rushe, who finished with six wickets for 11 runs against Lisburn on Saturday, had to be content with the big wicket of North Down captain Ryan Haire.
Meanwhile, Donemana duly completed a hat-trick of victories over Brigade in the North West Senior Cup final.
Resuming with a lead of 141, they bowled out Brigade a second time for 221 and victory by an emphatic 88 runs.
Title rivals must battle on without Ireland stars
The Ireland squad members involved in this week’s three one-day games against Sri Lanka A at Stormont will not be available for their clubs next Saturday.
And that could have a significant bearing on the two top-of-the- table clashes at The Green and Belmont.
Nick Larkin, in a senior Ireland squad for the first time, will be an absentee in the North Down team to play Waringstown, while another uncapped player, CIYMS captain Chris Dougherty, will miss his team’s game against Instonians.
At least in this match, it will be one missing from each team after the Instonians vice-captain, Andrew White, was recalled to international duty.
There are also three players from the North West in the squad so Craig Young misses Bready’s game at Ardmore while, at the Holm, Andy McBrine and Stuart Thompson will miss the Donemana-Eglinton game.
Next Sunday’s third game in the series at Coleraine — the games on Wednesday and Friday are at Stormont (all start at 10.45am) — also clashes with the Ulster Cup semi-finals but no decision has been taken yet on whether those games, both involving Irish players, will be put back. Waringstown are due to host Donemana and Bready are at home to CIYMS.
Meanwhile, one of the players missing this week’s internationals, vice-captain Kevin O’Brien, stole the show in last night’s first game at the Caribbean Premier League.
O’Brien finished 90 not out, out of 152, as Trinidad Red Steel beat Antigua Hawksbill by nine wickets.
Opening the batting O’Brien faced just 49 balls and hit five fours and seven sixes and shared a unbroken stand of 145 with Zealander Ross Taylor.