THERE could hardly be a greater contrast between CIYMS and Waringstown going into today’s Irish Cup semi-final Belmont (12.30pm).

While CI enjoyed a day off yesterday after their 98 runs Challenge Cup victory over Instonians on Friday, Waringstown were crashing to a fifth league defeat of the season, at home to Carrickfergus.

It means that unless the Villagers, now eight points behind the league leaders having played two games more, continue their defence of the All-Ireland competition today their season is effectively over, in the first weekend of August.

Carrickfergus piled on the agony yesterday, with a four wickets victory at The Lawn, just a week after inflicting the only league defeat of the season so far on the Belmont side.

After restricting Waringstown to 178-5 in 41 overs, following a delayed start, further rain reduced Carrick’s target to 124 in 23 overs and despite the loss of professional Jacques Snyman for a golden duck, Jamie Holmes kept out the hat-trick ball from Haseeb Azam and went on to win the match with an undefeated 66, from 43 balls, with six fours and three sixes.

At 91-6, Waringstown had not given up but Matty McCord stayed with Holmes to send Carrick level on points with the Villagers in third place.

Lee Nelson is the one batsman who goes into today’s big clash in form after an unbeaten 63, but Kyle McCallan’s run-ball 26 in the last seven overs proved in vain.

With CI idle, North Down had the chance to join them on seven wins at the top of the table with victory over Muckamore at Moylena and, after a couple of late scares, they did just that with four wickets to spare.

A devastating opening spell by Peter Eakin reduced Muckamore to 7-4, three balls into the fourth over, when rain reduced the match to 39 overs.

Fahad Iqbal and Sam Gordon led a mini recovery but it needed Steve Lazars to get the home side into three figures before Eakin returned to dismiss the top scorer two short of his half century and he claimed his club’s best figures of the season (5-23) with the wicket of Shane Henderson as Muckamore were bowled out for 121.

Because of the early fall of wickets, North Down needed only 113 for victory and it all looked plain sailing at 92-3 in the 29th over. But after Lazars got his own back and had Eakin caught for 39, Ryan Haire was called for a suicide single by Nathan Burns who was bowled in the next over to leave North Down on 100-6. But Ross Ewing, making a rare appearance, ensured no panic, finishing the match with a six and a four in the 33rd over.

Civil Service North won the other Premier League game at Wallace Park, despite Lisburn’s Faiz Fazal hitting 99 not out.

Unfortunately for the Indian professional, Lisburn’s next best score was 13 and although Fazal and Graeme Browne reduced CSN to 37-3, in pursuit of 141 in 29 overs, Graeme McCarter, with 64 from 46 balls (nine fours and two sixes) and skipper James Kennedy scored the remaining runs with almost six overs to spare.