North Down and CIYMS assured semi-finals berths
Ian Callender (Belfast Telegraph)
IT may have been a wash-out in the Robinson Services League Cup on Saturday but CIYMS and North Down did not mind — it confirmed their place in the semi-finals on Saturday week.
With two points for abandoned games, the last of the four Cup ties to bow to the weather — the teams were at the ground but the rain refused to stop — left the joint leaders four points (one win) clear of the chasing pack and with Waringstown hosting Civil Service North next Saturday in the final round of group games, CI and North Down cannot lose their top four spots.
There is still plenty to play for as captains Nigel Jones and Ally Shields know, as the top two will be rewarded with home semi-finals so a fifth victory of the campaign will guarantee CI, who host Woodvale, and North Down, away to Lisburn, those positions.
The winners of the game at The Lawn will also go through to the semi-finals and both could make it if Instonians lose at home to Carrickfergus, although run-rate would then decide fourth place.
The fail-safe for the top two is that they have a vastly superior run-rate to Waringstown, so even if the Villagers win, it would need big wins for Woodvale and Lisburn to deny CI and North Down their home semi-finals.
On current run-rates, CIYMS would play the fourth place team and North Down would host the winners of the Waringstown v CSN game in the semi-finals, due to be confirmed for Saturday September 5, with the final set to take place the following day.
Champions CIYMS and North Down will still meet next Sunday in the Lagan Valley Steels T20 Cup final at The Lawn, although Paul Stirling will be an absentee as he left for England immediately after Saturday’s wash-out at Comber to join Northamptonshire for the T20 Blast, which gets under way on Thursday.
At least he played two games for North Down, which was two more than his Ireland captain Andrew Balbirnie and Gareth Delany managed for Pembroke and Leinster respectively before they left for county duty with Glamorgan and Leicestershire.