8 August 2009
Both matches scheduled to start at 1230.
The competition reaches the semi final stage on Saturday with the NCU clubs conspicuous by their absence with CIYMS being the last remaining side from the NCU in the quarter finals before their exit at the hands of Donemana in a high scoring affair at the Holm.
Donemana have the considerable advantage of being drawn at home again when they entertain LCU side Pembroke who pulled off the upset of the season when beating holders North County by 1 run in the quarter final. The Dubliners are currently stuck at the bottom of their domestic League but seem to up their game when the Irish Cup comes around. Their batting mainstays are overseas player Anthony Brooks and schoolboy prodigy Andrew Balbarnie who was recently compared to Ed Joyce by former Ireland coach Adie Birrell and the same two players are prominent in the bowling attack.Donemana have an excellent record in the competition having reached the final on 4 occasions and victorious in 2000 incidentally beating arch rivals Limavady who are also in the last four. The Co. Tyrone side are have just won their domestic Cup competition and could still be in contention in the NW League. Their all round strength with professional Shaffique in excellent form with the bat together with home advantage persuade me to make them my selection.
The other semi final sees another LCU versus North West confrontation when Limavady travel to Rathmines to play Leinster who improved their lowly League position at the weekend with a win over fellow strugglers Pembroke. Indeed many pundits in Dublin cannot figure out how these seemingly out of form sides have made it to the semi finals of the Irish Cup but such is the uncertainty of the game we love. Although they have featured in 4 finals Leinster have yet to lift the trophy while Limavady have an enviable record with 3 wins in 5 final appearances – the last triumph coming in 2004.The home side's professional Carlos Braithwaite has a back injury which prevents him bowling his usual rapid stuff which is now replaced by off breaks but he is still a major batting threat along with Anton Scholtz, Mark Jones and Jason Molins.Limavady have a formidable batting line up with Riddles ( a century maker in the second round against CYM), McGregor and Cooke to the fore and I take them to add Leinster to the list of LCU teams they have defeated on their Cup run, the others being Merrion,Old Belvedere and CYM.
Should my forecasting be correct the final of the Irish Cup on September 4 – the venue will of course depend on the participants – will be a repeat of the 2000 decider when Donemana defeated Limavady by 3 wickets at Beechgrove and current Irish skipper William Porterfield top scored for the winners with 59.
Both matches are scheduled to start at 12 30pm