Town get triple boost ahead of cup final glory bid
The week's delay to the O'Neill's Ulster Cup final has confirmed Waringstown as favourites to win the trophy for the first time.
For the game against Bready at Strabane Park last week they would have been without Greg Thompson, their leading bowler this season who also invariably scores valuable middle-order runs, and probably Kyle McCallan and James McCollum who both picked up injuries in the league game at Ballymena last Saturday.
However the extra seven days has allowed both batsmen time to recover and Thompson is now back from honeymoon.
The only downside for the Villagers, apart from professional Shaheen Khan who had left before last week's match, is the absence this time of opening bowler Phil Eaglestone who has to work at Truckfest this weekend.
But the team who have lost only twice this season – both to Civil Service North – will suddenly be approaching the game with renewed confidence.
Waringstown still have to negotiate today's big Premier League game against CIYMS, one of four teams waiting to pounce if the leaders slip up, but Bready have a day off because of the North West Warriors' inter-pro, also at Strabane, against Leinster Lightning.
Runs for David Rankin and Andrew Austin and wickets for Craig Young, all playing for the Warriors today, will do them no harm as they prepare for their first inter-union cup final – and Bready's first since 1995.
That was the Irish Cup final at Comber and that day Bready lost to North Down, by coincidence the Comber side's last appearance in the All-Ireland final.
Tomorrow they get the chance to get that monkey off their backs with a home semi-final against The Hills.
Peter Eakin, rested for today's league game at The Green against Muckamore, comes back into the team and Taimur Khan's suspension from domestic cricket does not apply to the Irish Cup so he too is available for the game against the defending Leinster League champions who have struggled in their defence, losing six of their first 11 matches.
North Down have a tremendous incentive to win because, as 19 years ago, they will host the final if they win tomorrow.
If The Hills win, next Saturday's decider will be at Castle Avenue as the other semi-final is the all Leinster game between Pembroke and holders Clontarf.
- Lisburn's Premier League game against Instonians today has been called off following the death of former North West union secretary and chairman Jim Simpson.
“Gentleman” Jim was the father of Lisburn chairman Dean, and grandfather of club skipper David and Richard.
The funeral is at Magheragall Parish Church today at 12.30pm.