WARINGSTOWN will play Merrion in the final of the Irish Cup for the third time in four years after the two best teams came through their semi-finals in contrasting styles.

While Waringstown eased past Strabane by 167 runs, Merrion won the all-Leinster clash with great rivals Clontarf by two wickets with John Anderson content to hit a four to take him to 99 from the third ball of the last over and win the match for the Ballsbridge side.

There was no such drama at Strabane Park where the holders piled up 331-7 and then bowled out the home side in the 40th over.

Rolling back the years with an all-round performance he was producing 20 years ago, was Kyle McCallan who top scored with 75 and then took three for 39 in his 10 overs, including the wicket of his former Ireland team-mate Peter Gillespie.

With James McCollum not allowed to play by Cricket Ireland, after suffering a recurrence of the hand injury he picked up during the Ireland Wolves series against Bangladesh A, McCallan continued to replace him at No 3 in the order and played the perfect anchor role, facing 105 balls and hitting just six boundaries, two of them sixes.

He came to the middle in the ninth over after James Hall,, whose first two scoring strokes cleared the boundary, was superbly caught in the in the covers by Ryan Gallagher.

By that stage, Waringstown had already 66 runs on the board, with Adam Dennison going on to make a run-a-ball 47, with seven fours and a six.

Lee Nelson was dismissed early but Shaheen Khan then took centre stage with 68 in the fourth wicket stand of 122 before he was the first of four catches on the boundary for Rhys Logue as Waringstown rattled up 86 runs in the last nine overs, skipper Greg Thompson the fastest of them all with 46 from 26 balls.

Chasing such a huge total, Strabane needed all their big players to perform but Waringstown’s bowling was just too good.

Khan took the first two wickets to leave the Red Caps 35-2 after seven overs and it should have been 36-3 when professional Chathura Peiris was dropped before he had scored off James Mitchell.

But, no matter, Mitchell got his man eight balls later, caught by Thompson, and when he followed up with the wicket of Ryan Gallagher, Strabane were 73-4. That brought in Peter Gillespie who had scored a century the previous day from No 6, but the pitch was taking big turn and was made for McCallan and Gary Kidd.

They were bowling in tandem from the 16th over and three overs later, McCallan trapped Gillespie leg before.
Aaron Gillespie had hit a breezy 57 from 54 balls with seven fours and a six but in McCallan’s next over he was following his uncle back to the pavilion, given out leg before wicket.

All that was left was for Phil Eaglestone to take a wicket against his former club and with Rahit Gaur unable to bat, the opening bowler took the last to send Waringstown into a record fourth successive Irish Cup final.