Junior Cup semi-final preview
In its 118 years of existence within the NCU calendar this competition which has been generously sponsored over the past 18 years by the accountancy firm of Goldblatt McGuigan has provide a high level of interest for clubs in the second tier of local cricket.
This year’s renewal reached the semi final stage last Saturday when holders Academy progressed smoothly to their third final in 5 years with a comfortable win over Portadown at Chambers Park. Their opponents next month will be decided this Saturday when Waringstown II meet Ballymena II at the Lawn. The tie had to be postponed to its allotted Reserve Date as the Waringstown senior side were at home to North Down in the Challenge Cup. Ironically that game had to be abandoned between innings when a freak downpour turned the Lawn into a paddy field in a matter of minutes and will be replayed in full next Sunday. Busy times for the Waringstown ground staff!!
Although the sides compete in the same League – Division 2 Section 1 – they have yet to play each other in the League this season as their scheduled meeting on June 27 was postponed due to Cup action.
So no pointers on form are available but Waringstown II are in the fortunate position of having played all their Cup games at the Lawn and again of course have home advantage on this occasion. They followed a narrow 1 – 0 bowl out win over Drumaness in Round 1 with a nervy 3 wicket victory over arch rivals Lurgan II in the second round and secured their place in the last four with a comfortable 9 wicket success over Dungannon on the quarter final. Opening batsman David Dawson, a 19 year old student, took the top honours with an undefeated 52.
Opponent Ballymena II also survived a bowl out in Round 1, defeating Lisburn II 2 – 1 before a second round walk over as Donacloney withdrew from the competition. In the quarter final the Braid men ran out easy winners against Donaghadee when they passed the Section 4 side’s total of 96 for the loss of only 1 wicket. Opener Richard White, Brother of Andrew of international fame, stood out with an undefeated 47.
A close contest is anticipated between two sides that have a pleasing mixture of youth and experience but I narrowly side with the home side, who have most recently won this coveted trophy in 1997 and 2002, to take advantage of familiar surroundings and qualify for the decider on August 1 at Wallace Park