With the teams around them at the top of the Premier League busy in their pursuit of the Challenge Cup Lisburn have a chance to take a clear lead on Saturday when they travel to bottom club Lurgan The old adage that points on the board are more important than matches in hand will have registered with Greg Thompson and his team and I think they will pick up full points against the home side who appeared to flatter only to deceive when they unexpectedly grabbed a tie against North Down a few weeks ago.

Instonians are still in the title hunt with 2 defeats and they appear to have a straightforward task at Shaws Bridge where Downpatrick are the visitors. Paul Tate’s side have only 8 points from 7 games and even with the Old Boys being without Andrew White and Rory McCann on Ireland duty in Holland I am confident that the home side will prevail.

Saturday’s programme is completed when Carrick host Ballymena at Middle Road. These sides have identical records with 5 defeats from 7 games and one must conclude that there will be little between them on this occasion. The visitors were on the receiving end of a mauling at Comber last week and will do well to recover from that ordeal – the batting form of the Kennedy clan is a key factor in their line up. The home side will be hoping that professional Ross Gelderbloem maintains his improved form with the bat and I narrowly give Ryan Eagleson’s side the vote.

Three sides engaged in the Challenge Cup on Saturday take the field in the Premier League on Sunday with probably the pick of the games the meeting of last year’s joint champions Waringstown and Instonians at the Lawn. Both sides are understrengh with players in Holland with Cricket Ireland and the absences will probably hit the visitors hardest with 2 of their top 5 batsmen missing. The performances of the two overseas professionals will be fascinating for the expected big crowd and they should see an enthralling contest with my tentative vote going to the Villagers.

CIYMS are also in Sunday action playing Carrick at Belmont and Barry Cooper’s side will be anxious to keep in the Premier Leagu title race as they currently lie joint third with 16 points. I feel that the home side will be too strong particularly with Craig McMillan and Ben McCord in top form.

Lisburn and CSNI complete the Premier League programme for the weekend when they meet at Wallace Park and the home side can keep their place at the top with another win. The visitors are seriously handicapped with the absence in Holland of their skipper and batting star Nigel Jones and will find it difficult to match Lisburn on their home patch.

Weekend fixtures

Saturday  3 July

Challenge Cup

  • North Down v CSNI
  • CIYMS v Waringstown

Premier League

  • Carrickfergus v Ballymena
  • Instonians v Downpatrick
  • Lurgan v Lisburn

Sections 1, 2 and 3 as per fixture schedule

Sunday 4 July
Premier League

  • CIYMS v Carrick
  • Lisburn v CSN
  • Waringstown v Instonians

Section 1 Holywood v Armagh

Section 2 Cooke Collegians v Dungannon