Who will win the cups?

CricketEurope spoke with local cricket players and doyens of the game to get their view on who will lift the Bob Kerr trophy this weekend as Waringstown and The Hills meet at Bready on Saturday, as well as getting their views on the National Cup decider between Malahide at the same venue on Sunday.

Ger Siggins

The Hills have been unstoppable in recent weeks, but coming up against Waringstown is their toughest test yet. They flagged badly in June, but have been on a roll since then, winning the Leinster Senior Cup final against Merrion and putting in a strong run for the League.

A feature of their cup runs this season has been that all eight wins - four in the Bob Kerr and four in Leinster - have been at their beloved Milverton. But while they are fearsome at home with a scone under their belt, they travel in numbers too so Bready will be well garlanded in blue and red this weekend.

The Skerries batting is strong: the reliable Cormac McLoughlin-Gavin has scored more runs and faced 200 balls more than anyone else in the province this summer, Max Sorensen can take a game away from any side in a trice, and Sean Terry has the class to rise to the occasion. But their bowling is stronger still, even robbed of the pace of Sorensen.

The attack of Northerns' Ryan Cartwright and Luke Clinton is backed up by an often unplayable hand of Albert van der Merwe, Yacoub Ali and Naseer Shoukhat. How Adam Dennison, James Hall and Greg Thompson cope with the Hills' spinners will be decisive.

My money's on the Skerries side to shade a thriller.

Andrew White

Waringstown have been the best and most consistent team in the NCU this year and have got big match performers throughout their team.

Key Man : James McCollum - will have a key role to play with the bat as others bat round him and maybe the pitch will suit his bowling and he could yet be a trump card.

The Hills are an experienced and well balanced team who have the bowling attack to exploit the conditions at Bready. Albert van de Merve is tactically superb and gets the best out of his team.

Key Man : Luke Clinton - under estimate him at your peril. Capable of turning the screw and continues to get the best players out.

If both teams are at full strength then Waringstown have the depth, especially with the bat to deal with any situation. However, the fitness status of their professional, Shaheen Khan, may yet be the difference between the two sides.

Would be easy to sit on the fence for picking a winner so I have tossed a coin and it's come down Waringstown's way. Best wishes to both teams for the final.

Ciara Metcalfe

It's a hard call. I know The Hills are traveling like a small army, and with several losses to the club off the pitch this year, they have a inner drive that can't be placed or spoke about. So, I reckon that will push them over the line.

Also, on a playing note - they've come together nicely this season, seeing them get out of some precarious situations and going onto win, again my money would be on The Hills.

Ian Callender

Can I be honest immediately and say I haven't got a clue! This really is the match between two evenly matched teams - which pick themselves - when one big performance on the day will win it for their team.

Max Sorensen is the most dangerous player on The Hills side. As more than one team have found to their cost, 15 overs of Max can put them out of sight or, even more importantly, when batting second can take them home.

If you don't get Sean Terry early then he is another batsman who can go big but the Waringstown attack will be the best The Hills they have faced this season. With their four-prong spin attack, it is stronger than their batting although not many teams would swap a top three of Dennison, Hall and McCollum.

But if Ryan Cartwright and the evergreen Naseer Shoukat make early inroads and Albert van der Merwe then comes on to finish them off, the Skerries side should be in control. So who will win? I've given the clues so take your pick! Ok, if you twist my arm - Waringstown!

Andrew Poynter

A very tough one to call with two very strong sides in the final. I think I am backing the Hills, as their seam attack is so good with lots of variety and some dangerous batters too. Hopefully the sun shines and there is a great game of cricket for all to watch.

Ryan Eagleson

Difficult one to call with so many match winners on each side. Waringstown to squeeze bome in a last over thriller with the old man of the team Kyle McCallan hitting the winning runs.

Joe Curtis

The Captain will probably be the key to success in this interesting challenge; not by his decision during play but in winning the toss. The team batting first will likely have less than friendly batting conditions.

The Hills have been in the habit of winning in recent times, even when in difficulty early in the innings and this might give them some added confidence.

Waringstown have been used to their measure of success too and will not be afraid to go for the win. Their blend of youth and experience is not dissimilar to Hills.

On balance I go for a Hills win, though they are unlikely to thank me for putting my few bob on them; my prediction seldom matches the final result, but this time I trust Iíll be right. Ever the optimist,,, and maybe cricket will be the winner in a sporting game

Andrew Balbirnie

I think The Hills have too much strength in all areas and have international experience to call on. On what will be a slow pitch . Key man -Naz Shaukat

Davy Holmes

A lot of factors will dictate that; including possibly the toss with an 11.30 start scheduled. In Ryan Cartwright The Hills possess the most economical bowler in the competition and in Albert van der Merve the leading wicket taker.

No side has scored more than 144 against them, so letís not underestimate the difficulty of the task facing Waringstown.

Neil Gill

I have to go for Waringstown, overall I think they are the best all round team in Ireland and with having the experience of 3 cup finals in the past 3 seasons will only help them.

The Hills are also a quality side with the likes of Max Sorensen, Albert Van Der Merve, the evergreen Shoukhat, Sean Terry, etc so it will be a cracking Cup final but Waringstown to edge it for me.

Mark Gillespie

Waringstown for me as they are a very good all-round team. I think they will have the edge over The Hills in what's certain to be a tough encounter.

Heatley Tector

I believe The Hills will win the ISC as they possess greater depth in two of the three key cricketing components, batting and bowling. Their batting is deep whilst their bowling both seam and spin is of an exceptional standard.

Waringstown on the other hand are one of the great clubs in Irish cricket. This is so because of their incredible record in both NCU and All Ireland cricket. They have match winners right across their squad non more so than their Skipper.

This years ISC has the potential to be an absolute classic however having seen 15 wickets fall in Bready yesterday, it's hard to know who the pitch will favour. Two great clubs battling it out for the biggest prize in Irish club cricket. May the best team win.

Joe Doherty

I fancy Waringstown. I think they have great depth and all eleven contribute to a serious level. Their array of spinners should do well in the conditions at Bready, although the seamers on both sides will be hoping to emulate the recent form of Davy Scanlon on his home patch.

This one could be close, but I think Waringstown might have the stronger cards to play on the day.

Isobel Joyce

I think Waringstown will have too much depth for The Hills and that their spinners will be the difference between the two sides.

Alan Lewis

The ISC should be a classic final between two heavy weights of the club game. I sense Waringstown will be smarting from last year. Having inserted Merrion when runs on the board can be so vital they were unable to bring home the prize.

Finals no different to last year revolve around the performance of big players, with John Anderson largely being the difference between both teams in last yearís final with a patient and superb century. Both bring a wealth of experience to the party. It will be a tight call but whoever bats better and smarter will win the day.

200 batting first could be a very good score looking at what we have seen this week.

 

WHO WILL WIN THE NATIONAL CUP

Ian Callender

A look at the league table would suggest a comfortable win for Malahide but Terenure have beaten their final opponents, albeit at home.

Arguably, Malahide's bigger match this weekend is their league game against Balbriggan when victory will secure promotion back to Div 1. WIn that and I would be confident they will complete the double with the all-round talents of professional Danny O'Shea and the runs of Alan Reynolds.

Terenure will hope to take advantage of any Malahide slip-up but will still rely on big runs from South African Givon Christian and the bowling of Yasir Cheema. I don't think it will be enough.

Personally, it will be great to see Ireland's first World Cup century-maker Jeremy Bray in the middle again although judging on his form this year, any runs will be a bonus.

Andy Balbirnie

Malahide have been doing well in division 2 and should be too good for terenure. Key man-Danny O'Shea

Isobel Joyce

There's very little to separate Terenure and Malahide in the National Cup final except the experience that Terenure boast in their ranks. If Bray and Langford-Smith fire they should come out on top but Chase could have something to say about that.

Joe Doherty

I fancy Malahide. They've been impressive throughout, are former winners and disposed of a very useful Derriaghy in emphatic style in the semi. Terenure, although they beat us (Strabane) well in the semi, would be beatable away from their own patch. Jeremy Bray needs no introduction from me and their overseas man Givon Christian, whom we remember from his time at Glendermott batted well for 82 against us. I was also very impressed with one of their seamers - Mohammed.

If Malahide can control those three, I think they should win.

Heatley Tector

I am going to plum for Terenure as I think there are a number of key factors in their favour none more so than JB. It's the old truism,' Class is permanent'.Chaser having to play a three day game in Derry then return to Dublin for a hugely important game on Saturday and then head back to Derry on Sunday is heavy going.

It's also nearly 30 years since Terenure won a major trophy and their hunger will be enormous.

Meanwhile Malahide if victorious on Saturday will be buzzing and this factor could be crucial. Alan Reynolds is smart and he knows the importance of this weekend for Malahide so like the ISC expect a cracker. Here's to a dry Saturday and Sunday.

Neil Gill

I think a lot depends on whether Peter Chase plays and is allowed to bowl or not, they also have my wee mate Finto McCallister who can go big up top with the bat.

Terenure have the experience of Conor Mullen and Jeremy Bray so again two really good teams which will mean a tight final but I'm going to have to go for Malahide.

Alan Lewis

It will be a battle of team over the contribution of individual players. Malahide will bring the team piece to the table but if Christian and JB come to the fore it will be Terenureís day.