Inspired Neil Gill fires Muckamore into Gallagher Challenge Cup semi-finals

Neil Gill bowling for Muckamore
Neil Gill bowling for Muckamore
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Muckamore captain Neil Gill produced a man-of-the-match performance to help his side beat Templepatrick by 72 runs and progress to the Gallagher Challenge Cup semi-final at Moylena on Saturday.

Batting first, Muckamore were struggling at 110-7 before an eighth wicket partnership of 57 between Shane Henderson (31) and Karthik Rajavelu (26*) dragged the home side to 171-8 in 47 overs.

On what was a very difficult wicket to score runs, it always felt like a score in the region of 170 would be more than competitive, and that was proved correct with Gill collecting figures of 5-30 in an opening burst that blew Templepatrick’s top order apart.

The Section One side finished on 99 all out with Niall Kelly (20) top-scoring and Michael Stewart, who also picked up 4-37 in the first innings, contributing 19.

It secures Muckamore’s spot in the last four of a competition they last won back in the 1960’s and they will now have their chance to reach the final for the first time since 1972.

“From a batting point of view it was disappointing,” reflected Gill.

“We were 110-7 but brought Shane into the team because he scored a couple of sixties for the seconds in the past few weeks, and he has been hitting the ball as clean as anyone. It came off today and him and Karthik put on 57 which won us the game.

“It’s a hard wicket to bat on and tough to get the ball away. Credit must go to Templepatrick because their spinners bowled beautifully. There were very few four balls and the wides probably killed them a bit.

“At half-time I was quite confident that 170 was going to be enough and it’s great to get a win.”

Gill now has 16 wickets for the season and says he is feeling much better now than he did during the 2018 campaign.

“It’s starting to get there now and my fitness and rhythm is good,” he added.

“Last year I was injured for most of the season and was carrying niggles, so it’s good to be running in a bit quicker and have more rhythm. Hopefully it can continue for the rest of the season.”

It was the perfect weekend for the Antrim side as they registered their first win of their Premier League campaign with a two-wicket triumph over Carrickfergus on Sunday.

That result leaves Instonians bottom of the table on zero points after four games with Muckamore on four points while Carrick and Lisburn have eight.