Belfast Telegraph

Friday 18 April 2014

Last-ball drama seals women's Twenty20 place

We've done it: Ireland's women celebrate at their winning finish

Ireland's women have qualified for the World Twenty20 with a thrilling two runs, last-ball victory over the Netherlands in yesterday's third-place play-off at Claremont Road, Dublin.

Captain Isobel Joyce with 72 not out from 64 balls was player of the match as Ireland defended 136 for five, but only after Laura Delany restricted the Dutch to nine off the last over.

They needed four off the last ball but the batsman was run out from mid-on by Kim Garth going for an impossible and hopeless second.

The women's competition will take place, simultaneously with the men's competition, in Bangladesh next March.

Meanwhile Claremont Road tomorrow hosts the RSA Irish Cup semi-final between YMCA and Clontarf, but Ulster interest will be focused on the last four game at Stormont where Civil Service North will hope their recent improved batting form continues in their match of the season so far, against Merrion (12.30pm).

Nigel Jones' side are the last Ulster team in a competition which has been dominated by Leinster since the turn of the millennium. Waringstown's victory two years ago was only the second occasion the cup has left Dublin in that time and the first time it's been in the NCU since 1995.

While history may be against CSN – they won the inaugural final in 1982 but have not been in the final since 1991 – their progress this season would indicate otherwise, with their quarter-final victory over holders The Hills proving that they can beat anyone on the day.

The Stormont side go into the game full of runs.

Two players have scored half centuries in each of their last six games, with a resurgent Regan West and improving Jason van der Merwe at the top of the order followed by the experience of Jones, professional Griffin Nieuwoudt and Andrew Cowden.

A strong batting line-up, as Waringstown proved when they chased 275 at The Lawn, can expose a weaker bowling line-up but if Jones wins the toss and gives his bowlers first use then the confidence of winning all six home games when batting second should stand them in good stead.

Merrion were last year's beaten finalists and Ireland international John Anderson is averaging 99.5 in the competition, but they will be without Ireland Under-19 captain Tyrone Kane and if CSN can dismiss or restrict Merrion to 206, as Waringstown did, then this NCU side will have a shout.

There are also three Ulster Bank Premier League games tomorrow and Civil Service North will be keeping a wary eye on Lurgan's game at Lisburn and CIYMS at Waringstown. Those two teams are propping up the table, with CSN, albeit the Irish Cup semi-finalists have games in hand, while Instonians, after losing the Challenge Cup final, have the chance to join North Down at the top of the table with victory at Ballymena.

There was no play on the last day of the RSA inter-provincial between the Northern Knights and North West Warriors after the overnight rain got under the covers at Osborne Park, leaving the umpires no option but to abandon the game as a draw.