Cricket: North Down face toughest test in Premier League title crunch
It's North Down’s title to lose, but nothing is certain as the Ulster Bank Premier League title reaches its exciting denouement tomorrow.
The Comber side are two points clear of their only remaining challenger, Waringstown, but have the harder of the final games.
While the Villagers travel to Stormont to meet an under-strength Civil Service North — captain Nigel Jones, man-of-the-match in the surprise win against North Down is in Canada with the Ireland team — North Down go to Belmont to take on CIYMS, who on their day have a batting top four who can beat anyone.
Whether Barry Cooper, Ben McCord, Derek Heasley and crucially, former New Zealand Test start Craig McMillan can rise to the challenge, is the big imponderable because they are up against the leading three wicket-takers in the NCU in Daniel Harding, Taimur Khan and Martin Moreland. Even if they do the North Down top order of Neil Russell, Andrew Sutherland, Ryan Haire, Taimur and captain Peter Shields can master any attack and they are favourites to repeat their Challenge Cup final success against CI and bring the title back to The Green.
At the bottom, Lurgan are long doomed, but unless Ballymena can win at home against Carrickfergus then the second relegation place may go to the final match, next Saturday, when Downpatrick go to Pollock Park.
Fixtures (12.00): Ulster Bank Premier League: Ballymena v Carrickfergus, Civil Service North v Waringstown, CIYMS v North Down, Downpatrick v Instonians, Lisburn v Lurgan.
Section One: Cliftonville v Bangor, Derriaghy v Saintfield, Dundrum v Armagh, Laurelvale v Holywood, Muckamore v Woodvale.
Section Two: Cooke Collegians v Academy, Cregagh v Millpark, Donacloney v Drumaness, Dunmurry v Dungannon, Larne v Templepatrick.