Battle of Ulster for Irish Cup final place
Ian Callender (Belfast Telegraph)
IT’S the battle of Ulster on Sunday for a place in the Irish Cup final when Strabane host holders Waringstown, who are aiming to become the first team to play in four successive deciders.
In contrast, it is nine years since a North West side were in the final and 2004 since Strabane’s previous appearance, when they lost to Limavady, the last team from the union to win the All-Ireland Cup.
They will start as underdogs on Sunday but on home ground are perfectly capable of upsetting a Waringstown side possibly still reeling from the hammering by Premier League title rivals CIYMS last weekend.
Victories over Cork County, Muckamore — by one run in their only other home draw — and Phoenix may not have been the most taxing route to the last four but professional Chaturu Peiris, with innings of 66 and 71 not out, has proven the player for the big occasion and former Ireland international Peter Gillespie, in his new role down the order, is still capable of big scores; he hit 82 from No.6 in Cork.
They won’t be under-estimated by Waringstown, who have bowled out YMCA for 80 and amassed 358-2 against Pembroke in their first two games. Now, in a side which includes Phil Eaglestone lining out against his former club, they must go out and do it again.
The other semi-final is the battle of Dublin as northside Clontarf host southside Merrion. They are the top two in the Leinster League and scheduled to meet in what is likely to be the league decider on the final day.
Clontarf won the first game, at Castle Avenue off the penultimate ball, chasing 223, back in May and it promises to be just as close again on Sunday, a repeat of the 2013 final won by the northsiders.
Meanwhile, Waringstown and Clontarf are on course to meet in the All-Ireland T20 final for the second successive year.
The NCU and Leinster T20 Cup winners were kept apart in yesterday’s semi-final draw which sends Waringstown to Beechgrove to meet North West holders Brigade, while Clontarf face Munster winners Cork County at Bready, which will host the final. The games are tomorrow week, the semis starting at 11am and the final at 4pm.
Although it was an open draw, the result was the same as last year when Waringstown beat Bready — who were beaten in this year’s North West final — by 67 runs and Clontarf defeated Cork County by 47 runs. Clontarf went on to defeat hosts Town in the final by 10 runs, despite 50 from skipper Greg Thompson.