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T20 sides forced to play a long waiting game as fixtures pile up

IT may be a month into the 2009 cricket season but three of last year’s games have still to be played — and they have suffered another delay.

The rain at the end of last season meant finals day in the Metal Technology Twenty20 Cup never took place and now plans to play it on Sunday week have been postponed.

NCU officials, fearing mass interruption to this weekend’s TCH Challenge Cup ties — the reserve date is Sunday week — have told the four semi-finalists from last year’s T20 competition to rearrange the two games at a venue of their choice, not later than Friday June 12, with the intention of playing the final at Shaw’s Bridge on Wednesday, June 17.

The teams involved, Civil Service North (the Stormont Spitfires) who meet the Instonians Sea Horses and the Downpatrick Saints who face the Lisburn Lions, are already facing a fixture backlog in the Ulster Bank League and if their Challenge Cup games are also postponed tomorrow a tournament held over from last year is likely to be well down the list of priorities.

Just to add to the early season fixture congestion, this Sunday is first round day in the ClubTurf Ulster Cup (bowl-outs to decide if there is no play) with CSN hosting North West champions Donemana in the most attractive game of the round, while Instonians and Lisburn must head north west to play Limavady and Eglinton respectively.

First up tomorrow should be rather less taxing Challenge Cup ties. Indeed, holders CSN and Lisburn face the only two Section Two teams in the competition, away to Saintfield and Armagh respectively, while Instonians are at home to Dundrum. Elsewhere, Waringstown, last year’s beaten finalists, should find it just as easy at Derriaghy, relegated from the top flight at the end of last season, and Carrickfergus will expect to return from Laurelvale victorious.

The other game which pits Premier League against Section One is CIYMS v Lurgan with the Pollock Park side capable of an upset if their strong batting line-up comes off.

They scored 256 for three against Cooke Collegians in one of only two first round games not decided by bowl-outs. It is unlikely to be straightforward for CI, and North Down would probably have preferred an easier tie than a trip to neighbours Bangor.

Ballymena and Woodvale complete the first round with a meeting at Eaton Park.

Fixtures: TOMORROW (12.00): TCH Challenge Cup second round: Derriaghy v Waringstown, Saintfield v Civil Service North, Bangor v North Down, Laurelvale v Carrickfergus, Armagh v Lisburn, Instonians v Dundrum, Ballymena v Woodvale, CIYMS v Lurgan.

Goldblatt McGuigan Junior Cup (1.00): Derriaghy II v Portadown, Victoria v Ards, Academy v Clogher, BISC v North Down II, CSN II v Dungannon, Waringstown II v Lurgan II, Ballymena II v Donacloney, Donaghadee v Cregagh.

SUNDAY: ClubTurf Ulster cup first round (2.00): Waringstown v Fox Lodge, North Down v Brigade, Bangor v Bready, CIVIL Service North v Donemana, Limavady v Instonians, Glendermott v CIYMS, Strabane v Carrickfergus, Eglinton v Lisburn.

Belfast Telegraph

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