Johnny Morton (News
The importance of the Premier League clash between Armagh and Muckamore on The Mall is recognised by both teams.
A win for Armagh would keep their hopes of safety alive, while a Muckamore victory would send the home side one step closer to relegation while all but securing their own top flight status.
Armagh are coming off the back of their best performance of the season against Waringstown last weekend, and although it resulted in a six wicket loss, captain Matthew Steenson believes his side are improving all the time.
“We have been improving,” he said. “The weekend was very satisfying. We went to Waringstown and people expected us to get rolled over for 60, but the boys batted well and dug in.
“We didn’t get enough in the end, but we are getting closer to the mark.”
Armagh’s only league win of the season came against Muckamore on the first day of the season, and although not looking to put too much pressure on the occasion, Steenson is aware they will need to replicate that result to give themselves a reasonable chance of staying up.
“We aren’t putting too much pressure on ourselves,” he added. “We will take the game as it comes and try to enjoy it and try to improve. Muckamore are big favourites having won three games, and the experience of being in the Premier League for the past two or three years is helping them get wins.
“They are a good side who have signed a couple of players mid-season. We are going to go out and give it a go.
“We know they are favourites, like every team we face this year, but we enjoy the challenge and an upset here and there would be good.”
Muckamore have won back-to-back games, beating Carrickfergus followed by a six wicket win over CSNI last weekend.
Adam McDaid made his club debut in the victory, scoring 61 batting at number three, and captain Neil Gill says he was very impressed with what he seen.
“He really impressed me on Saturday,” he said. “We had heard he wasn’t playing any cricket, so we approached him to play for us for the rest of the season with an option of next year as well.
“To score 60 the way he did was very pleasing.”
A win would bring the Antrim side to 16 points, and all but secure their place in the Premier League for another year, but Gill isn’t expecting an easy match on Saturday.
“It’s a big game, but I don’t want to put too much pressure on ourselves,” he added. “I’ve told the boys to just go out and play the way they have been. That’s two wins in a row now.
“We beat Carrickfergus who were missing Pat Botha, and we have been a bit fortunate that teams have been missing players here and there, but you can only beat what’s in front of you.
“We know it is going to be a tough game against Armagh.” , especially on The Mall.
“They are going to be fired up and know if they win, they are up to two wins and it’ll be all to play for again. It’s an eight pointer really.”
Aditya Adey has been in superb form this season, hitting over 400 runs, most of which have came since he was moved to the top of the batting order. He has also taken his fair share of wickets, and Gill praised the work ethic shown by Adey.
“Adey works the hardest of anyone at the club on his game,” he said.
“He went to India for a three week holiday, but he was actually playing cricket out there trying to improve, and he’s very much into it.
“To be honest, when the Knights squad was named for this week, I was surprised he wasn’t in it.
“He’s been taking wickets and scoring runs at the top of the order regularly and he’s great in the field. Hopefully he isn’t too far away. He’s getting his rewards.”