Vital final matches for North Down at CIYMS and Waringstown at CSN
P W T NR L Pts North Down 17 14 1 0 2 58 Waringstown 17 14 0 0 3 56 Lisburn 17 13 0 0 4 52 CIYMS 17 10 0 0 7 40 Instonians 17 9 0 0 8 36 CSNI 17 8 0 0 9 32 Carrickfergus 17 6 0 0 11 24 Ballymena 17 5 0 0 12 20 Downpatrick 16 4 0 0 12 16 Lurgan 16 0 1 0 15 2
This Saturday sees the title up for grabs in what promises to be an exciting climax to the season. The final destination of the championship has been narrowed down to two clubs, both of whom are very familiar with success at the top level of NCU cricket.
Leaders North Down enter their final game of the campaign at Belmont with the certain knowledge that a win will crown them as champions for the 7th time in past decade. Peter Shields’s side have shown great consistency this year with only 2 defeats in domestic cricket and, since they have already defeated CIYMS twice this term including an overwhelming triumph in the Challenge Cup final, the Comber side will be full of confidence for such a crucial encounter. They had hoped to include Ireland bowler Peter Connell to spearhead their attack but the Kiwi has been ruled out through injury as is the unfortunate Johnny Terrett who has missed most of the season also with injury. Nevertheless North Down are a vastly experienced side currently in top form and I think they will keep their nerve to complete the coveted League and Cup double.
Meanwhile only a short distance away at Belmont second placed Waringstown are the visitors and will be fully aware that even a win over CSNI may not be enough to clinch the PL title which the Villagers shared in 2009 with Instonians. Importantly the home side are without skipper Nigel Jones who is on Team Ireland duty in Canada and his absence will be a major blow to the home side’s hopes of a win. With the visitors at full strength with the exception of overseas player Victor Mpitsang who has returned home I think they will be too strong for CSNI and will complete their programme with a win thus keeping the pressure on the leaders.
Lisburn whose gallant PL title challenge ended at the Lawn last Sunday host Lurgan who are destined to be playing their cricket in Section 1 next year. The Wallace Park side will achieve their highest PL finish for some years in third spot and Greg Thompson will derive some satisfaction from his side’s strong showing this season. The visitors are still looking for their first win in the campaign but I cannot see anything other than a win for the home side.
Downpatrick who lost out in an extraordinary low scoring game against CSNI last week are at home to Instonians.Paul Tate’s side are running out of matches in their quest to remain in the PL and are sure to find the Old Boys, currently in 5th place, a stern test.
Finally Ballymena who entertain Carrick at Eaton Park can still be joined on 20 points if they lose and Downpatrick beat Instonians – James Kennedy’s side would probably have a better run rate – but I am sure that the Braidmen would much rather not depend on the calculators!!