Johnny Morton (News Letter)
North Down captain Marty Moreland says the Challenge Cup has an added aspect of importance with the final being played at their home ground.
The Comber side are preparing for a quarter-final clash against CSNI at Stormont - and they have started their season in fantastic form, winning two of three matches in the league, with the only blemish a five-wicket defeat to Instonians.
They have also sealed progress into the Irish Senior Cup second round, where they will host Pembroke next Sunday.
Moreland, who took 4-38 in a win over Muckamore last Saturday, says that both bowling and batting units are starting to click.
“Apart from the Instonians game, we have been happy with the start,” said Moreland. “Last weekend was the first time the bowling and batting clicked together, whereas in the past couple of games the batting didn’t really click and the bowling got the job done.
“Everybody is hitting runs now.
“We have played eight games and won six in a row now. “Confidence is a massive thing.”
The final has been staged at The Green consistently since 2012, which is the last year that North Down made the final, when they were beaten by Instonians.
They progressed to the last-eight stage this year with a 215-run win over Donacloney Mill, with opener Daniel Graham hitting 108.
Moreland says it gives his side extra motivation knowing the reward could be a senior final in front of their home support.
“Apart from the Irish Cup, which I’ve never won, this is the biggest trophy,” he added.
“I’ve won it seven or eight times, and the final is at North Down, so it’s a big cup game and it means a lot to us.
“We have been watching other teams play at The Green in the last couple of years, and it’s not nice.
“Playing at your home ground in a senior cup final is the biggest day in the NCU probably.”
CSNI have struggled in the Premier League this season, failing to win a game, but are unbeaten in cup competitions, adding three Twenty20 matches and an Irish Cup success to their first-round Challenge Cup win over Carrickfergus.
Moreland is expecting a tough test against their Belfast opposition.
“They should be doing a lot better than they are in the league,” he said. “They are a very good team with good players.”
Other quarter-final matches are as follows: Holywood v Instonians, Downpatrick v CIYMS, Derriaghy v Waringstown.