Civil Service North’s Irish Cup dream ended at the home of the competition favourites Merrion in Dublin last night.
Batting has been the root of CSNI’s problems all season and their top order once again failed to fire at Anglesea Road.
Andrew Cowden, the captain, was trapped lbw from just the seventh ball of the match, the first he had faced, and CSNI struggled to cope with an accurate Merrion attack.
Professional Mansoor Amjad made just a single before he was caught behind and Shane Getkate, departed stumped after making 12 from 10 balls.
Jason van der Merwe, who has been finding his form in recent weeks, held the innings together, making 59 from 109 balls, including four fours and a six before he was eighth man out with the score on 156.
Ben Adair gave the visitors some semblance of hope by crashing three fours and two sixes in an unbeaten 32 from 27 balls, but a final total of 195 for nine was way off being competitive against probably the longest batting line-up in Irish cricket.
Merrion got off to a flying start before Allen Coulter (2-24) gave the NCU side a glimmer with two wickets in two balls. But Rob Smith and John Anderson closed the door on their face, an unbroken 140 run stand taking Merrion home in the 36th over. Smith was unbeaten on 88 and Anderson 63.
Instonians barely broke sweat in the North Down as they strolled to an eight-wicket victory over Eglinton to book their place in the Ulster Cup final.
The home side were up against it from the start as Stephen Bunting, the left-arm seamer, ran through the top order.
The Northern Knights bowler claimed the prize scalp of professional Oraine Williams and then Jordan McClurkin pulled off a fine catch behind the wicket to snare Stuart Thompson.
At 22 for four there looked to be no way back for Eglinton but Richard Wylie, the hero of their ultimately futile recovery in last week’s Senior Cup final, led a comeback of sorts.
The veteran all-rounder top scored with 49 before he was run out but tellingly the next highest scorer was Andy Pierce with 19 as Eglinton were dismissed for 114 in the 36th over. Bunting finished with brilliant figures of 4-4 in 6.3 overs while Zach Rushe took two for 25.
That total was never likely to test Instonians’ powerful top order.
McClurkin got the innings off to a decent start with 22 and although Nikolai Smith fell for 14, the third-wicket cpair of James Shannon and Farhad Iqbal had few alarms.
The gam was done and dusted in the 24th over as Shannon finished unbeaten on 29 and Iqbal, the Pakistan professional, was 42 not out.
Neil Russell’s men now face North Down next Sunday in the final. North Down will have home advantage with the showpiece taking place at The Green.