Derriaghy face Malahide in National Cup final
Derriaghy and Malahide meet in the final of the RSA National Cup at Downpatrick on Sunday (11am) attempting to become the second name on the trophy following Muckamore's inaugural win last year.
Malahide will start favourites, by virtue of their fine performances in reaching the decider, which included the convincing elimination of Muckamore along the way.
The Village skipper Callum Riches outlined just how his team had targeted the competition from the outset: "Our main goal at the start of the season was to reach the RSA National Cup final and the lads have shown great determination in getting there by beating probably the two favourites for the competition in Muckamore and Rush."
The competition has really captured the imagination of Malahide, who of course are preparing to host both the RSA Irish Senior Cup tomorrow and the RSA Challenge ODI against England on September 3rd.
"There's been a great buzz around the club the last few weeks and I know that all our members are really looking forward to the game."
Malahide are one of seven Leinster sides to have won the Irish Senior Cup, when they beat Rush by four wickets back in 2002. That Malahide side included a 15 year-old Eoin Morgan, and the team for Sunday includes three survivors from that day - Andy Pyne, Jim Govan and Peter Saville.
Riches is aware of the great tradition of the club, and is hopeful of adding to the rich tapestry of success come Sunday night: 'It's been 11 years since Malahide CC last played in an All Ireland final and in my eyes that's too long a wait for a club of our stature and tradition. I know all the lads are determined to put on a good show."
"I think it's going to be a tight affair as Derriaghy and ourselves are both sitting in mid position in our respective leagues. Craig Lewis and Yogesh Takawale both seem to be in form this season but our bowlers Peter Saville and Ryan Gallagher have both been in great form, along with the exciting pace of Peter Chase, so it should make for a great contest."
For Derriaghy skipper Matthew Jennings, the competition offers the chance to cap an indifferent season with the prestigious trophy.
"After a slightly inconsistent start to the league season, we quickly identified the Irish National Cup as our main priority for the season. Although the cup is still new, we were quickly swept along in the prestige an All Ireland competition holds."
Jennings admitted their path to the final hasn't been the most arduous, with the weather intervening in the early rounds. "We had a slightly sedate start to the competition with a bowl out victory over Ardmore and a walkover over NUIG, but we showed tremendous character and team spirit in beating Cliftonville by just three runs in the quarter-final and by defending just 119 in the semi-final against Laurelvale."
The Derriaghy stalwart outlined just how much it means to the Queensway club to have the chance of lifting an All-Ireland trophy. "Since reaching the final, there has been a buzz around the club that I haven't seen in a few years. We know the magnitude of what we have achieved and more so what is to come, but we will enjoy what is a massive occasion. We know we have our work cut out and I would say we enter the final as underdogs but we know we have players that can perform on the biggest stage."
Which players did Jennings feel were pivotal to Derriaghy's chances of upsetting the odds? "In Yogesh Takawale we have a batsman who has scored over 1000 runs this season, including a 195 and a 197 not out. Craig Lewis has been our leading all rounder for several years now and he has scored over 600 runs this season with a 152 not out just four weeks ago.
"Andrew Kenny is an experienced batsman who tends to save his best innings for the biggest stages. Lewis also leads our bowling attack and both he and Mark Stinson have some 50 wickets between them this season. Kenny Gilliland's spell in the semi-final was critical to our win. Wayne Hughes has been our leading slow bowler for some years now despite only being 22, while Scott Hughes and myself make up the rest of our attack and aim to keep things tight."
Jennings has also been doing some research on his opponents, and is well aware of the task his team faces. "We know Malahide are a very dangerous side and in Ryan Gallagher, Callum Riches and the Irish international, Fintan McAllister they have three high quality batsmen who have scored heavily this season. With the ball, Gallagher again features prominently along with Saville, and we are well aware they possess the incredibly highly rated Peter Chase, who will make life difficult for us with his pace and bounce."
"We cannot wait for Sunday and we look forward to a good day weather wise and we hope for a great game of cricket."
RSA National Cup Final. Derriaghy v Malahide, Sunday August 25 at Downpatrick (11am).
Matthew Jennings (c), Matthew Ballantyne (wk), Yogesh Takawale, Craig Lewis, Andrew Kenny, Wayne Hughes, Scott Hughes. Dean Ferris, Kenny Gilliland, Ross Bailey, Mark Stinson, Stuart McAllister (12th Man)
Callum Riches, Alan Reynolds, Keith Reynolds, Andy Pyne, Fintan McAllister, Ryan Gallagher, Jim Govan, Yogesh Kashyap, Atif Kamal, Peter Saville, Peter Chase and James Garrigan.