Irish Cup takes centre stage
CLONTARF will host the showcase of the domestic season on Saturday – and happily for them they also get to play in it too.
There was a bit of grumping about home advantage but CI wouldn’t entertain a switch and to do so at five days’ notice would have been foolhardy.
The Hills shouldn’t fear Castle Avenue, where they won their only previous Irish Senior Cup, and have also beaten Tarf twice already this season.
“They’ve been our bogey team in recent years”, admitted Clontarf captain Eoghan Delany. “They’re a nitty-gritty team who are so dangerous in the 50-50 situations.
“They are one of the teams we most fear, and I suspect Saturday will be one of those nitty-gritty games that they do so well in.”
Both semi-finals were nail-biters, with Delany’s team coming through against Pembroke thanks to a late surge by Bill Coghlan (134) and Joe Morrissey (26no).
“I didn’t think we were going to win until the last seven balls, just after Joe hit a six to bring it down to eight off the last. It was one of the best games I’ve ever played in.”
Coghlan and Morrissey have proved invaluable in Tarf’s bid to become only the seventh team to win an Irish/provincial cup double after NICC (1982), Waringstown (1983, 1992 and 2011), Limavady (1997) and North County (2003).
“Bill has great belief in his own methods and it has paid great dividends.
“He often starts with a flyer but then settles to play patiently and build his innings. He knows he can clear the ropes at the end of an innings and backs himself to do so. In the last three years I’d say he’s scored 70% of his runs in the last ten overs.
“Joe almost retired two years ago but he had a brilliant year last year and is in great form with bat and ball – he took 5-16 against YM last week.”
The Hills though, will present a huge challenge in the battle between the last two winners of the Bob Kerr Trophy.
“We had a fantastic win over North Down”, says Willie Dwyer, manager of the Fingal side.
“Other sides know that the Hills never give up, we just keep at you. In the T20 semi last week YMCA threw it away when the pressure came on and North Down did the same.”
Although they started well, The Hills have not had a great year in the league but could pick up two prize trophies in four days this week.
“We have some great young lads coming through and we are working hard to bring them and more lads on.” The Hills have added Jeremy Bray to a strong backroom unit with John Wills, Max Sorensen and pro Nic Pretorious. And they anticipate more recruitment.
“Young players and their parents demand more coaching and more progress and that’s the way we’re going. Tomas Murphy and Cormac McLoughlin have had great seasons but there’s a lot more to come.”
Dwyer anticipates a great occasion on Saturday and looks forward to the tussle with Coghlan – “Bill’s a Fingal cricketer, really” – and a close finish.
With Nasser Shaukat and Max Sorensen eager to salvage something from the season, a close finish is just what The Hills will back themselves to emerge from with the Bob Kerr.
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MERRION’S win over YMCA on Sunday night has put the ball firmly in their court to regain the title last won in 2001.
In front of a huge crowd, John Anderson showed again why he is the best club batsman in the country. And the veterans of YM’s last league in 1993 raged against the dying of the light – Alan Lewis (50) and Angus Dunlop (47) still showing flashes of the genius that brought them 100 plus caps.
Merrion can claim the title with two more wins. But mystery surrounds the refix of the fractious game at Milverton with still no contact made between the clubs by time of going to press.
The regulations say the refix will take place on Friday if there’s no agreement, but with The Hills due to play the Irish Senior Cup final on Saturday, another refix against North County on Sunday and the T20 Cup final on Tuesday they’ll be stretched up in Skerries this weekend.
TRENT Johnston jets out shortly having overseen a remarkably successful year for the Ireland women’s side. A win over Pakistan kicked off 2014, and he will hope to go out with a bang against South Africa in Solihull next week.
But in between the Irish women have been impressive in the county championship, and winning the Division Two T20 trophy.
And last week they proved themselves far superior to their European rivals Scotland and Holland, winning the T20 and 50 over titles and emerging from the qualifiers.
Although it was the evergreen Cecilia Joyce who picked up the MVP award after scoring Ireland’s only second T20 century, the performance of the teenagers showed that the future is blazing bright for women’s cricket.
Thursday: Women’s Div1: Merrion v Leinster, YMCA v Malahide, Pembroke v The Hills
Friday: RSA Division 1: The Hills v Merrion, 6.0 (TBC)
Saturday: RSA Irish Senior Cup final: Clontarf v The Hills, Castle Avenue 12.0
Sunday: National Cup final: Killyclooney v Carrickfergus; Division 1: The Hills v North County; Women’s P40 Cup final, Sandymount
Monday: Women’s Div1: Merrion v The Hills
Tues-Thur: Newstalk Interpro: NW Warriors v Northern Knights, Eglinton