Junior Cup final takes centre stage in NCU

Marty Moreland bowling
Marty Moreland bowling
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The GMcG Chartered Accountants Junior Cup final will take place this weekend with Muckamore II and North Down II battling it out on Saturday at Wallace Park.

Both sides have been performing with distinction in Junior League One and occupy second and third respectively.

The last time the two sides met was on June 2, when North Down won by just six runs – a result which suggests we could be in for a hotly-contested clash in Lisburn.

Muckamore have reached this stage by navigating their way past Monaghan, Belfast Superkings, Instonians II and CIYMS II in a year where the junior teams have dominated their senior opponents.

North Down, who have a plethora of experience in their squad with the likes of captain Peter Shields and Marty Moreland, cruised through their opening two rounds against Waringstown III and Lurgan before showing their class by chasing down 265 in the semi-final at Cooke Collegians.

In the Robinson Services Premier League, North Down’s 1st XI face a crucial fixture when they take on defending champions CIYMS on Saturday.

Both teams sit on 28 points at the top of the league, but with CI having played two less games, Alistair’s Shields’ men must pick up four points if they want to maintain any hope of lifting the title.

CIYMS will be looking to bounce back from Sunday’s heart-breaking Irish Senior Cup semi-final defeat to Waringstown which came down to the very last ball.

Nigel Jones’ side lost out to North Down by three runs at the start of last season in the league, but that sparked an unbeaten run of 20 matches.

Muckamore’s senior side also face a must-win encounter when they welcome Lisburn to Moylena.

A loss for Muckamore - who are currently sitting joint-bottom of the league with Instonians – would push them one step closer to relegation while almost certainly preserving Lisburn’s Premier League status for another year.

If Neil Gill’s squad can pick up four points at home, it would send them level with Saturday’s opponents, and they could potentially drag Lisburn into a relegation scrap.

Instonians will be desperate for a victory when they take on a Waringstown side that are searching for their own red-ball form.

The Villagers have uncharacteristically only won five of their 10 league matches to date, while Instonians’ form has also been a shock.

Instonians have played two fewer league matches than Muckamore but will be looking to pick up points as soon as possible to ease the pressure heading into the final weeks.

CSNI will also host Carrickfergus this weekend in a game that will see the two in-form batsmen come up against each other.

Carrick’s overseas professional Jacques Snyman went past the 1000-run mark last weekend when he scored a blistering 190* against Instonians, joining Andre Malan who reached the landmark in the previous round of fixtures.