CIYMS full of confidence ahead of key 'Town tie
It's the clash that everyone in the NCU has been waiting for all season but, rather than meeting in the Premier League clash scheduled for tomorrow, CIYMS and Waringstown will square up in the semi-final of the Gallagher Challenge Cup.
Waringstown won the league title last year by 0.02 of a run, after the teams were deadlocked on 10 wins each, and this season they have identical records again, joint leaders after five games and unbeaten since surprise defeats on the opening day.
It is CIYMS who have home advantage in tomorrow's match of the day, and skipper Nigel Jones can't wait to face their great rivals.
"We are firing and confident in 50 overs cricket, either winning pretty comfortably or losing very closely - three runs against North Down in the league and 10 runs against Merrion in the Irish Cup," says Jones. "We haven't won any close matches but obviously we'll take a win by any margin on Saturday."
One of the factors in the teams' success is a settled line-up, although both have to make one alteration for the semi-final with Trevor Britton on holiday and Waringstown's Kyle McCallan away on a school trip.
The experience of McCallan is likely to be missed more - in the dressing room as much as his 10 overs of off spin - with Jones able to call on Kartik Rajavelu as a like for like replacement.
Both teams still have an abundance of slow bowling available, but the Belmont pitch this season has favoured seam as much as spin, and Waringstown's first task, whether batting first or second, will be to see off Jones and Allen Coulter who have been taking wickets for fun with the new ball.
The top six, even seven batsmen on both teams, however, have been showing incredible consistency this season with CI opener John Matchett the latest to score a century, in 20 overs in the deciding Lagan Valley Steels T20 Cup semi-final win over Muckamore on Wednesday night, which earned them a semi-final meeting on July 13 - at Waringstown!
It is also Senior Cup semi-final day in the North West with Donemana and Brigade drawn together in what is always an epic confrontation, made even more special as the Tyrone side chase a record seventh successive Cup triumph.
The role of underdogs in the final will be filled by Newbuildings, the Section One side with home advantage in their quest for a first ever cup final, or Eglinton, who last reached the two-day showpiece in 2015.
Weekend fixtures, Tomorrow (12.00) Gallagher Challenge Cup semi-finals: CIYMS v Waringstown, Instonians v Civil Service North
Robinson Services Premier League: Muckamore v Carrickfergus
Section One: Cregagh v Woodvale (1pm), Derriaghy v Laurelvale, Holywood v Donaghcloney Mill, Lisburn v Bangor, Lurgan v Downpatrick (1pm).
Sunday: Holywood v Woodvale, Downpatrick v Bangor
Section Two: Ards v Drumaness (1pm), Ballymena v Monaghan, Dunmurry v Cooke Collegians, Saintfield v Donaghadee (1pm), Victoria v Dundrum (1pm).
Sunday: Templepatrick v BISC
Long's SuperValu Premiership: Bready v Brigade, Eglinton v Coleraine, Fox Lodge v Ardmore, Strabane v Donemana
Sam Jeffrey Shield quarter-finals: Ballyspallen v Newbuildings, Burndennett v Killyclooney, Drummond v Bonds Glen, Glendermott v St Johnston.
Sunday, Bank of Ireland Senior Cup semi-finals: Donemana v Brigade, Newbuildings v Eglinton
Long's SuperValu Championship: Bonds Glen v Ballyspallen, Glendermott v Burndennett, St Johnston v Killyclooney.