In their first season as a merged club, Cliftonville Academy have the possibility to win their maiden piece of silverware when they take on Templepatrick in the GMcG Chartered Accountants Junior Cup final at Moylena on Saturday.
Cliftonville are one of the most successful teams in this competition, winning it nine times, and they joined forces with Academy from this season in what has proven to be a successful amalgamation.
They sit top of League Section Two having won all nine of their matches to date, and captain Andrew Magee says the transition in the two clubs becoming one has been very smooth.
“Both clubs were previously based on each others doorsteps which was one of the main reasons for doing it.
“We wanted to increase the playing numbers and get more people playing cricket. With the BRA connection, there is a lot of people who played for Cliftonville who are former pupils and that sort of thing.
“We have kids playing for the 4s who have been doing well, the 3s are going well and the 2s are in a cup final. Everything seems to have been smooth in terms of the transition.
“Having played each other in Section One and Section Two over the last couple of years, the boys know each other. It’s been seamless.
“Hopefully we can look back on the first season and we have won a cup and been promoted. If we can get across the line on Saturday, it would round it all off.”
Opening batsman Jonny Terrett has plenty of experience playing in big finals, having been part of a North Down side that dominated in the NCU for a decade before rejoining Cliftonville Academy.
He amassed almost 3000 runs in the process, and Magee says the likes of Terrett will be crucial this weekend.
“Jonny has been there and done it. There are quite a lot of guys with experience in our team. We will be looking to Jonny, to Davy Menaul, Brian Anderson - these are all big game players.
“The likes of Chris Halliday, who played for Academy, has been there and done it at this level and won Junior Cups.
“We will be looking for those guys to lead from the front on Saturday, and if we turn up on the day, we can hopefully bring it home again.”
The Junior Cup final marks one of the biggest days in the NCU calendar, with the 127-year-old competition carrying plenty of historical significance.
With every member of their squad having played in a final of some sort during their careers, Magee is hoping that can prove the difference against a strong Templepatrick outfit.
“If you look at the results, they’ve been bowling really well.
“I play a bit of rugby with Ross Bryans so I know a lot about him. They’ve got a couple of good players there, like John Busby.
“Hopefully our experience will shade it, but they are a quality side.”