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Gallagher Women's Challenge Cup Quarter-Finals Preview

Johnny Morton

Shane Matthews and Sam BeckettThe Gallagher Women's Challenge Cup returns on Sunday with Waringstown attempting to take a first step towards defending the title they won last season against Lurgan.

Charlotte Lyons' side picked up their first Challenge Cup crown with a four wicket victory over 2019 champions CSNI at The Lawn and have been handed a tough opening round draw against their local neighbours.

Waringstown also won the league last season – completing an impressive double – and have continued their good form in that competition this season, winning four matches to sit second in the table.

Lurgan have struggled in the league format after picking up two wins from seven matches but they have proved their cup prowess in recent times.

They were the first winners of the Challenge Cup when it was held in 2017, beating North Down by 5 runs in the final and followed it up defending their title in 2018 in a low scoring thriller against CSNI at Stormont.

The two sides have already met twice this season with Waringstown winning on both occasions, including a 34-run victory earlier this month inspired by 67 from captain Lyons.

CSNI are the form side in the NCU after winning all six of their league matches to date to open up an eight point lead at the top and they'll want to reclaim the trophy they won in 2019.

Muckamore II, who sit fourth in Women's Section 1, are the first opponents that stand in their way.

CSNI have been extremely impressive with the bat this season with the likes of Ali Cowan, Sophie Thomas and captain Rachael Thomas all contributing to put them within one win of lifting the Premier League.

Muckamore II will be no pushover as they've already picked up silverware this season – the Gallagher Women's Challenge Plate against Holywood earlier this month.

Muckamore's first team reached the final in 2019 after wins over Carrickfergus and Instonians, and they'll face the former once again this time around.

In that meeting, Muckamore ran out victors by a margin of 152 runs and they'll be hoping to bring some of the form they've shown in the Premier League into this encounter.

Joanne Logan has been a consistent source of runs for Muckamore while Amy Caulfield has continued to lead from the front with her performances, scoring 54* against Waringstown and 64* in a win over North Down.

Carrickfergus are unbeaten in League 1 after picking up wins against Lisburn and Instonians, and will have their sights set on a cup upset.

The quarter-finals are rounded out with North Down's trip to Holywood.

North Down currently sit bottom of the Premier League but they've been putting in some good performances against those teams above them and started the season with a seven wicket win against Lurgan.

They came within six runs of recording a double over the Pollock Park side and got even closer against CSNI, falling just three runs short of handing the league leaders their first loss of the campaign.

Holywood is a club that continues to impress with the numbers participating at Seapark and they've started their League 1 season with wins over Muckamore II and Lisburn while losing out to leaders CSNI II.

Ahead of the quarter-finals, Waringstown captain Charlotte Lyons said:
"Winning the cup is always hard, I guess retaining it is even harder! The standard of ladies cricket is improving all the time and the matches at this stage are always competitive regardless who you are playing. After a slowish start for us to the league campaign, we definitely want to put our best foot forward and make sure we give it our absolute best in the pursuit of silverware this year!"

Carrickfergus v Muckamore
CSNI v Muckamore II
Holywood v North Down
Waringstown v Lurgan

Gallagher Women's Challenge Cup