Ian Callender
Irish Cup semi-finals fall to the weather

Ian Callender, 12 August 2001

CLIFTONVILLE will be playing four successive days cricket the weekend after next following the postponement of their Royal Liver Irish Cup semi final on Saturday.

The game against Brigade will now be played at Greenisland on Friday August 24 the day before their scheduled Ulster Bank League Section One game against North. Cliftonville's return visit to Ormeau, outstanding from Irish Cup quarter final Saturday has, long-term, been fixed for Sunday week and captain Kyle McCallan had already re-arranged Saturday's scheduled league game at home to Downpatrick for the holiday Monday.

In the end, once it was agreed to call off the semi final at 4pm, two hours of persistent rain after the last ball was bowled, the teams had no option but to re-fix for Friday week. This Friday was available to both teams but it would have meant McCallan and his international colleague Andrew Patterson playing six consecutive days' cricket. They leave today for the Triple Crown, with matches on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and Friday is their only day off before Cliftonville face back to back games next weekend against North Down and Woodvale. Brigade were not keen on this Friday either because they also have two vital league games with an away fixture against Drummond followed by the rearranged match with champions Limavady on Sunday.

Cliftonville could hardly have wished for a better start at Beechgrove before the rains came with Colin Davison and Brian Anderson removing openers John Browne and Lee Williamson respectively to leave Brigade seven for two in the fifth over but the home side stormed back with David Cooke and Allan Rutherford adding 41 unbroken although the latter had been dropped at second slip when on three. At the interruption it was an even contest and everything to play for at Greenisland on Friday week.

The other Irish Cup finalist will be known the previous day when Merrion replay their game with North County at Anglesea Road. When rain ended this contest on Saturday, North County had reached 167 for four in 37 overs, including a century partnership for the second wicket between Irish international Conor Armstrong and resident South African Andre Botha.

The venue of the final is known - to be confirmed after the result of the Brigade-Cliftonville game. If the North West side wins, the final will be in Dublin but if Cliftonville reach their first final the NCU will host the decider against their Leinster opposition, at The Lawn.