CIYMS eager to strengthen grip on quadruple
CIYMS may have missed out on a clean sweep of the trophies this year following their Irish Cup semi-final defeat by Waringstown, but the NCU Challenge Cup and T20 winners are still on course for four titles - and this weekend could all but seal the remaining two.
Captain Nigel Jones admits that if they beat Civil Service North at Belmont today he will have one hand on the Premier League trophy, and tomorrow they are two games away from winning the All-Ireland T20.
Both semi-finals (11am) and final (4pm) are played tomorrow with CIYMS drawn at home to North West T20 winners Donemana in one semi-final with the winners moving on to Stormont to face either Malahide or Cork County, the other provincial winners who meet in the other semi at the international venue.
Jones welcomes back Allen Coulter, who missed CI's Irish Cup defeat three weeks ago - because of the weather and the T20 Inter-provincial Festival their last match - so, depending on the surfaces, Trevor Britton or David Robinson will make way.
Mark Adair, who scored 67 from 27 balls in the domestic semi-final against Instonians - the Ireland international missed the final, which was played on the last day of the Lord's Test - is available and is likely to be one of the star attractions tomorrow.
It's a first appearance at Finals Day for three of the teams with Waringstown and Clontarf having contested the only previous two deciders and Cork County having lost at the semi-final stage in both 2017 and 2018.
Donemana denied Brigade a second successive day out after an unsatisfactory, rain-affected final but professional Fahad Iqbal is an exciting pace bowler and in Dwayne McGerrigle and the McClintock brothers, Gary and William, they have batsmen for whom T20 cricket was made.
Malahide were the surprise Leinster winners but their presence gives northern watchers a chance to see the Ford brothers, Greg and Matt, sons of the Ireland head coach, in action.
Matt was due to play at Bready last weekend for Leinster Lightning but the wet weather thwarted everyone. However, he hit 34 not out from 13 balls to beat Munster Reds in the first T20 Festival at Pembroke and in the Leinster T20 final, he scored 79 from 38 balls to end Clontarf's hopes of a Finals Day hat-trick.
Muckamore know all about Greg Ford, who scored 109 not out in their Irish Cup defeat at Malahide this year, added to his 69 not out from 62 balls in the same competition last season.
If CIYMS win today, they will have a four-point advantage at the top of the Premier League, with a game in hand over closest pursuers North Down.
At the other end of the table, Lisburn lost their game in hand over basement side Muckamore, going down by 84 runs to Civil Service North at Stormont.
A second-wicket stand of 121 between Marc Ellison and Andre Malan was the difference between the teams as the visitors were bowled out for 111 and means that unless Lisburn beat Carrick today, they will be caught by the winners of Muckamore's game against Instonians at Moylena. And the Shaw's Bridge side will have played two games fewer.
Retired former pro Gerrie Strydom played his first game, in an effort to fill the void left by Faiz Fazal, but he was lbw third ball for nought to Malan, who followed up his 58 with four wickets.
Scores: Civil Service North 195-7 (35 overs, M Ellison 75, A Malan 58; M Glass 4-27, R Strydom 2-48) Lisburn 111 (27.5 overs , R Simpson 26, M Glass 20 not out, A Berry 20; A Malan 4-32, J Kennedy 2-9, B Adair 2-15). CSN won by 84 runs.
The first day of the Sam Jeffrey Shield final was abandoned yesterday. Ardmore and Newbuildings will play it as a one-innings tie at Ballymagorry today.
Meanwhile, a superb 70 off 51 balls by 13-year-old Amy Hunter led Ireland Women's Under-19s to a three-wicket win over Northamptonshire yesterday. They reached their target with three balls to spare after restricting the home side to 122-7 in their 20 overs, Ireland skipper Cara Murray taking 3-25.