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CSN will aim to raise bar against old rival Pienaar

 

By Ian Callender

Civil Service North defend a proud record tomorrow when they take on Clontarf in the quarter-finals of the Irish Senior Cup; they are unbeaten in 50-over Cup games this season.

It's five wins out of five for James Kennedy's side - no team has won more - having also reached the NCU Challenge Cup final. But if they are to make the last-four in the All-Ireland competition for the third time in six years, they will need to produce their performance of the season.

The NCU semi-final against Instonians, which they won by 72 runs, was impressive but they will probably need something even better to beat a Clontarf side which has won the Leinster Premier League twice in the last three years and later this month contest their 12th successive domestic Cup semi-final.

Tomorrow's game marks the return to the NCU of Obus Pienaar, who, as professional with Waringstown, took the 2011 season by storm with 800 runs before he was called back to South Africa in July. He returned in 2013 and in the two league games against CSN he scored 74 and 75 not out.

Former international Andrew Poynter and young pace bowler David Delany, a regular on the Leinster Lightning side, will be others expected to make an impact for Clontarf, and although Andre Malan, this year's overseas player for CSN, is in good form and Mark Ellison has made it onto the Northern Knights side, the NCU team are missing both Kennedy, on holiday, and the unavailable Graeme McCarter, which will make their task of causing an upset that much harder.

Elsewhere, Waringstown will be big favourites to move within one match of their fourth successive Irish Cup final with victory over Pembroke at the Lawn, a team they have beaten at the semi-final stage in both 2015 and again last year. Andrew Balbirnie is the 'Broke's leading batsman but the holders will be back themselves with the much greater strength in depth.

Strabane have not been in an Irish Cup semi-final since 2004, when they lost to Limavady in the final. They were the last North West side to win the Cup but the Red Caps have home advantage tomorrow against Phoenix, who may not boast the star names of their Dublin rivals but have beaten Ardmore and an, admittedly, under-strength Instonians to reach the last-four for the first time since 2011.

Irish Cup specialists Merrion host Leinster in the other quarter-final.

It's also quarter-final day in the Clear Currency National Cup tomorrow with, again, just three Ulster survivors - and two of them meet in Donegal.

All three are from the North West with St Johnston drawn against Ballyspallen and Drummond given the hardest task of all, away to Rush, the 2015 and 2016 winners, and who were knocked out last year in a one-run defeat.

Meanwhile, on a busy Sunday of knockout cricket, Bready II have been given the go-ahead to play in the Ulster Plate semi-final against Muckamore II, but Reece Kelly will not be allowed to turn out.

Kelly was joint top scorer in the quarter-final against North Down II but although first-class cricketers are not supposed to play in the competition, there is nothing written in the rules so Bready were unaware the North West Warriors bowler was ineligible.

The chairmen of the NCU and North West agreed not to kick out Bready but ruled that Kelly can take no further part in the competition.

Waringstown and CSN started a triple-header weekend last night with contrasting fortunes in the semi-finals of the Lagan Valley Steels T20 Cup.

While Waringstown eased to a 67-run victory over CIYMS, CSN lost by 61 runs to North Down.

The final, comfirmed for the The Lawn next Sunday at 3.30pm, is a repeat of last year's decider won by Waringstown.

SCORES: The Lawn: Waringstown 169-5 (J Hall 52, A Dennison 40, S Khan 21) CIYMS 102 (15.2 overs, R Hunter 30, C Dougherty 21, J Cameron-Dow 20; J McCollum 3-28, L Nelson 2-13, S Khan 2-16). Waringstown won by 67 runs

The Green: North Down 175-8 (P Eakin 57, R Haire 54, R Pretorius 29; B Adair 3-20, M Foster 2-22, A Malan 2-42) Civil Service North 124-8 (C Goodall 47 not out, C McMorran 22; R Pretorius 3-19, , P Davison 2-19) . North Down won by 61 runs.

TOMORROW'S FIXTURES: Clear Currency Irish Senior Cup quarter-finals (12.30): Civil Service North v Clontarf, Waringstown v Pembroke, Strabane v Phoenix, Merrion v Leinster

Irish National Cup (12.30): St Johnston v Ballyspallen, Rush v Drummond

Sam Jeffrey Shield Semi-final (1.00): Bonds Glen v Glendermott

Ulster Plate semi-finals (1.00): Muckamore II v Bready II, Ardmore II v Donemana II

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