As the Gardiner Brothers Premier League pauses for breath it is the Lagan Valley Steels T20 semi-finals that command centre stage.
On Saturday Waringstown host Instonians and at Moylena Muckamore take on North Down.
Muckamore are the form horses proving to be adept at the shorter format winning all six of their group games. By contrast North Down arrived late to the party winning their last two group games to pip CIYMS on net run rate.
Form counts for little at this stage, now it’s a shootout; winner takes all a chance to play in the final on 23 July at Waringstown.
For the villagers the incentive is obvious, a home final; it’s not lost on captain Greg Thompson:
“It is a privilege for us as a club to host these games and nothing better than being able to play at The Lawn, so yes we are relishing the challenge from Instonians on Saturday.
“They showed a lot of character last weekend to bounce back from a league defeat on Saturday to win the Irish Cup semi-final on Sunday. It’s tough to have two massive games back to back as we know.
“We certainly enjoyed defeating Merrion, an extremely talented batting line-up and perhaps we should have dismissed them for less, all in all though a good win. Looking forward to another semi- final although out line-up remains undecided.”
For Instonians’ Nikolai Smith perhaps a slightly different perspective as they approach the game:
“We have used this competition as an opportunity to give our younger players experience and will stick with that so Andrew White will not play. I have noticed that some of these guys have come on leaps and bounds since the start of the season.
“We still play with an expectation that we will win but to be honest we haven’t played that well to get here, having said that Ben Rose was excellent in our win over Lisburn, so he will open. For us it is a chance to mix the younger players in with the more experienced guys.
“In the other competitions, we want our best players to face as many deliveries as possible, if James Shannon faces 150 balls then he will have scored big runs.
“We will finalise the side after seeing how guys come out of the Wolves game, injuries have been a problem for us. Shane Getkate picked up a hand injury before that match in warm up and James Magee will sit this out, but I expect Robert McKinley to play and bowl.
“In T20 you can pick up 2 or 3 quick wickets or be flying with the bat from ball one, it changes so quickly.”