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'Town throw down big challenge

By Ian Callender

The double headers of league and cup action continue to come thick and fast for the successful teams and following the O'Neill's Ulster Cup quarter-final wins last weekend for North Down, Waringstown, Instonians and, in the North West, Eglinton, it is straight into the semi-finals on Sunday.

That follows another round of vital league action with the three NCU sides separated by just four points at the top of the table and after tomorrow's games they will have completed half their 14-match programme.

CIYMS are level with North Down and Instonians, all just one win behind leaders Waringstown, and all will be expected to add another four points as they play the bottom four.

North Down were seemingly out of title contention after losing heavily at The Lawn two weeks ago but bounced back in style last Saturday with a 12 runs DLS win over defending champions Instonians and Martin Moreland's side can keep the pressure on with victory at Ballymena.

The other three contenders are all at home with CIYMS set to welcome back James Cameron-Dow against Civil Service North, Waringstown have their Under-19 internationals Adam Dennison and James Mitchell back for their clash with Carrickfergus and Instonians' game against Lisburn completes the programme.

If CSN inflict more pain on Challenge Cup finalists CIYMS they, too, can jump right into the title mix on Sunday with their game in hand against Lisburn.

Eglinton go to Ardmore before hosting Instonians in an Ulster Cup clash just five days before the two teams are involved in their provincial cup final.

Tonight: Lagan Valley Steels T20 Cup final: Cliftonville v Muckamore (Carrick, 6pm)

Saturday: Ulster Bank Premier League (11.00): Ballymena v North Down, CIYMS v Civil Service North, Instonians v Lisburn, Waringstown v Carrickfergus. Sunday: Civil Service North v Lisburn.

Section One: Bangor v Derriaghy, Donacloney v Academy, Lurgan v Muckamore, Woodvale v Cliftonville. Sunday: Lurgan v Academy.

Section Two: Armagh v Saintfield, Cregagh v Laurelvale, Holywood v BISC, Larne v Dundrum, Victoria v Drumaness.

Section Three: Ards v Dunmurry, Donaghadee v Monaghan, Dungannon v Cooke Collegians, Millpark v Newforge.

Long's SuperValu Premiership (12.00): Ardmore v Eglinton, Bready v Coleraine, Brigade v Strabane, Donemana v St Johnston. Sunday: Coleraine v Brigade.

Sunday: Ulster Cup semi-finals (1.00): Eglinton v Instonians, North Down v Waringstown.

Friendly: Ireland U15 v Northern Knights U18 (Carrick 11am)

Afghanistan qualified for the World Twenty20 in India, beating Papua New Guinea - one of Ireland's conquerors in the group stages - by six wickets at Malahide. Completing the six-team Associate line-up at the first stage of the finals in March is Oman who will play in their first global tournament after beating Namibia by five wickets.

Tomorrow's fixtures: Semi-finals (Malahide): Scotland v Hong Kong (10am), Ireland v Netherlands (2.15pm).

Belfast Telegraph


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