Cricket: Inst and North Down ready to pitch in
North Down were not expecting any favours from Waringstown yesterday in their quest to regain the Ulster Bank Premier League title, but they will have the destiny of one trophy in their own hands tomorrow when they meet Instonians in the final of the ClubTurf Ulster Cup final at Upritchard Park (noon start).
It is a third meeting of the season for two of the top three clubs in the NCU with the score 1-1, each team winning away in the league clashes. The match at Bangor, however, will be a new surface to both captains.
Much slower and lower than the pitch on which Instonians professional Eugene Moleon effectively won the semi final against Waringstown, John Stevenson does not expect the artificial surface to favour one side or the other.
"Its pace will negate the height of Eugene and the pace of North Down's Peter Connell and with two quality spinners in both line-ups, Marty Moreland and Ralph Coetzee verses Andrew White and Regan West, they should cancel each other out as well," said Stevenson.
"Where the pitch is, giving a short boundary on the pavilion side, should give a high-scoring match and although it was such a long time ago that we won at Comber, it will give us the confidence knowing that if we play to our best we can win the match.
"I don't expect North Down to be blasé about their prospects, they will respect us and I am expecting a good match."
It will be the Shaw's Bridge side's first chance to pick their full-strength line-up in three weeks because West has just completed a four-match suspension while Stevenson and Moleon were banned from today's league game against Lisburn.
Although the suspensions arose out of the league game between Instonians and North Down in July, the visitors were not involved - it was clashes between five home players and an umpire - so the players on both teams are likely to be on their best behaviour with NCU officials Alan Neill and Alan Waugh.
North Down's only gripe before the game was that the final was taking place on a Sunday, forcing them into the game without David Kennedy, but it was a facile argument as the entire eight-year competition has been scheduled for the Sabbath.
Meanwhile North Down will win the Premier League title with a victory against Downpatrick today after the relegation-threatened team stunned defending champions Warringstown yesterday.
Downpatrick scored 222 in just 31.5 overs although significantly Ireland's international Kyle McCallan arrived too late to bowl.
They then restricted the Villagers to 211 for 7 to give themselves a lifeline at the bottom of the table. At The Lawn, Downpatrick beat Warringstown by 11 runs.
Downpatrick 222 (31.5 overs) J Arun Kumar 63, J Cunningham 43, S Ferguson 40; S Harrison 3-32, Ijaz Ahmed 3-38, S Stokes 2-56)
Warringstown 211-7 (32 overs) Ijad 81, S Harrisson 48 not out, J Hall 33; W Price 4-36, N Gelston 2-35)