LEINSTER Senior Cup specialists Clontarf put their proud record on the line at Sydney Parade today when they meet North County in the in the final – their 13th decider this millennium.
The Castle Avenue side have won eight of the previous 12, including the last three going back to 2012. By contrast, North County have won only one of their six finals since 2000 and although they beat Clontarf in 2003, Clontarf lead the head to head in cup finals 3-1.
It is the Fingal side’s first appearance in the showdown since 2011 but their semi-final victory over Premier League leaders Merrion last Sunday, when they scored 200 in 28 overs, sends them into today’s 40-over decider with confidence.
Eddie Richardson, with 17 off the last over, was their match-winner, but Jonathan Andrews, Andrew Sheridan and Jamie Grassi all scored half centuries in the league game against Clontarf at Balrothery back in May which gave them a 31 runs victory, without a contribution from free-scoring professional Malcolm Nofal.
Opposite number Obus Pienaar was still top scorer in that match for the visitors and the South African is likely to play a huge role today.
Having received a bye in the first round, ‘Tarf have had to win only two games to reach the final, hammering YMCA by 127 runs and Pembroke, at today’s venue, by 87 runs in a 22 overs game!
Phoenix will be hoping for a North County victory – and a good night of celebrating - as the basement side must travel to Balrothery tomorrow for a huge Premier League clash.
As their last game is against The Hills, avoiding the drop would still be in Phoenix’s hands if they win tomorrow and The Hills, still in danger, lose at Merrion.
The other team in the mix for automatic relegation is last year’s champions but Leinster have the comfort of ending with two home games against sides with nothing to play for, YMCA tomorrow and North County in two weeks’ time.
There will be no excessive celebrations at Castle Avenue as Clontarf, the only team who can catch Merrion, are back at Sydney Parade tomorrow for their league game against Pembroke and knowing that if they win their next two – they host YMCA in a 20-over refix on Tuesday – they will set up a title decider at Anglesea Road on the final day of the season.