CIYMS ready to take another stride towards title
The Robinson Services Premier League is set to career towards a finale this weekend with eight matches and the title and relegation still set to be decided.
First into action this evening are CIYMS and Lisburn, the champions-elect against the team in danger of heading straight back to Section One.
Nothing will be decided tonight but victory will leave CIYMS just two games from retaining the league trophy and Lisburn possibly two games away from the drop.
To deal with the title first. CIYMS have arranged four of their five games for this weekend, following tonight's 20-over game with a 50-over contest against Instonians tomorrow.
Win both those and they can win the league on Sunday lunchtime with victory over their nearest challengers North Down at Comber.
CIYMS have arranged the return fixture against Instonians for the afternoon, but if they lose their first game of the day then the celebrations will be on hold as North Down have still two games to play next weekend.
But having won eight of their first nine, as well as the NCU and All-Ireland T20 titles, Nigel Jones' side will be favourites to finish the season in a hurry.
At the other end of the table, unless Lisburn shock CIYMS tonight, Muckamore and Instonians have the chance to send them down this weekend. The teams meet at Moylena in a 20-over match on Sunday morning and victory for Muckamore will make them safe, if they haven't already beaten Waringstown tomorrow. They have a third chance, if needed, on Sunday evening, when they travel to Carrickfergus for their second 20-over game of the day.
Instonians' task looks more difficult if they lose at Muckamore, either side of their double header against CIYMS, but skipper Andrew White knows he has three more chances with 20-over games against Waringstown, Civil Service North and North Down still to rearrange.
Downpatrick will be relegated from Section One if Bangor win one of their two games, against Ballymena tomorrow or at Cregagh on Sunday. Two defeats, however, will allow Downpatrick to survive if they beat Donaghcloney Mill next Saturday.
Meanwhile, Ireland Academy go into the final day of their four-day game against Gloucestershire II with a lead of 26 but just six second innings wickets left.
The loss of Jack Tector, 14 balls before the close, leaves the Academy with a big task today after the county's last two wickets added 114, to give them a lead of 82 on first innings.
Graham Hume, who conceded barely two runs an over, was on a hat-trick, while Brigade's Ross Allen was nearly as economical with 1-82 from 34 overs.
SCORES - Bristol CC: Ireland Academy 289 (N Rock 57, C McLoughlin-Gavin 51, G Hume 47, N McGuire 34, M Thompson 34; M Taylor 5-30) and 108-4 (J Tector 44, R Allen 31) Gloucestershire 2nd XI 371 (G Roderick 83, B Charlesworth 77, T Price 77, M Taylor 50, G Hankins 31; G Hume 3-45, M Thompson 3-64). Close Day 3.
FIXTURES - TONIGHT (5.00): Robinson Services Premier Lge: CIYMS v Lisburn
TOMORROW (11.30): Civil Service North v Carrickfergus (2.00, Match 2), CIYMS v Instonians, Muckamore v Waringstown (1.00, M2). Sunday: Muckamore v Instonians (10.30, M2), North Down v CIYMS (10.30, M2), Instonians v CIYMS (3.30 M2), Carrickfergus v Muckamore (4.30, M2).
Section One: Armagh v Derriaghy (M2), Bangor v Ballymena (M2), Templepatrick v Holywood (11.00, M2). Sunday: Cregagh v Bangor (M2), Derriaghy v Armagh (M2), Templepatrick v Holywood (2.00, M2)
Long's SuperValu Premiership (12.00): Bready v Donemana, Eglinton v Coleraine. Sunday: Ballyspallen v Glendermott, Strabane v Brigade
Championship: Ardmore v Fox Lodge, Bonds Glen v Newbulldings. Sunday: Ardmore v Killyclooney, Fox Lodge v Burndennett