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Rugby coach Doak is ready to tackle Cup final

BY Ian Callender

Published 03/08/2016

Familiar face: Ulster coach Neil Doak is an ex-Ireland cricketer
Familiar face: Ulster coach Neil Doak is an ex-Ireland cricketer

There will be no shortage of experience on show when Cliftonville take on Lisburn II at Muckamore II on Saturday in the Goldblatt McGuigan Junior Cup final.

One look at the teams shows that old cricketers don't retire, they just step down a grade. To that effect, on view will be a former Ireland international, three former Challenge Cup winners and a Junior Cup winner from exactly 20 years ago.

The international is Neil Doak, the current coach of the Ulster Rugby team, who has already featured for the Lisburn 1st XI this year and is still taking wickets, if not scoring as many runs as he did when playing for Ireland from 1993-2000.

At that time, Ricky Finlay, his captain tomorrow, was a regular on the North of Ireland (now Civil Service North) side which played in three successive Junior Cup finals, picking up a winners' medal in 1994 and 1996, when he was also the man of the match.

Also in the Lisburn team are former 1st XI regulars Glenn Halliday, Graeme Brown and Derek Suffern, who played in the famous Challenge Cup final of 1994, alongside Doak, which ended in a tie with North Down.

Among those playing in their first cup final is Carl Williams, ex-Ballymena, and Michael Turkington who, after 28 years at Cliftonville, ironically will be lining out against his former team-mates in his first season at Wallace Park.

In the opposite corner, Johnny Terrett, a Challenge Cup winner with North Down in 2010, is "back home" at Cliftonville and lining up alongside fellow long-servants Neil Cahill, David Munn and Brian Anderson, but none can match the longevity of Brian Kelso, who after four Junior Cup final appearances for Academy - he won them all - will walk out on Saturday with his son, Adam. At 56-years-old, no-one will be prouder.

Seven-time winners Lisburn II have lost their last three finals but Cliftonville, who lost for the first time in the NCU last weekend, will start favourites to win the trophy for an 11th time.

Cliftonville: M McCord (capt), N Cahill, R McKnight, A Kelso, J Terrett, D Munn, B Kelso, A Howe, P Black, B Anderson, J McNeilly. 12th man: B Rainey

Lisburn II: R Finlay, M Turkington, G Halliday, G Browne, N Doak, J Ritchie, C McGill, D Suffern, C Williams, R Booth, C Irvine. 12th man: G Elliott

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