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Carlsberg don't do cricket weekends, but if they did, they would look something like the one Derriaghy just had.
The Queensway side reached the Gallagher Challenge Cup semi-finals for the first time in their history last Saturday with a two-wicket win over Cregagh before booking a spot in the Irish National Cup last-eight the very next day after beating Glendermott by 110 runs. If that wasn't enough for one week, they also set up a LVS Twenty20 Trophy final versus Saintfield with a 49-run triumph against Templepatrick on Tuesday evening, and it's fair to say the mood around the club is rightfully cheery.
"It was a dream weekend for the club," said Captain Curtis Moorhead. "It was the first weekend in a few years that we fielded three teams and all three came back on Saturday with a win, so there was a great atmosphere around the club. As far as the 1s are concerned, I felt we were favourites going into that game and when the likes of Craig (Lewis) gets five wickets one day and 150 the next, there's always a buzz around the club so it was a fantastic weekend. I'm very proud of all the boys. It's nice in a sense to represent Section One as well and it's a great achievement and we certainly won't be lying down for any team in the semi-final either."
It was fitting that club legend Craig Lewis – who has long been one of the most consistent and proven performers in Section One – produced the goods to help Derriaghy create a piece of history. He collected figures of 5-34 in the Challenge Cup win before a trademark innings of brutal ball-striking on Sunday, which included 12 sixes, eventually ended on 154 from 95 balls. That effectiveness with both bat and ball is a dangerous weapon for Derriaghy and Moorhead is delighted to have someone like Lewis at his disposal.
"When Craig gets in form like that, no one can bowl to him – especially at our place," he added. "Everybody knows within the NCU how good of a player Craig is so no matter who we play on any given day, if he turns up with the bat he can single-handedly win us games. It's a great weapon to have. He always rises to the occasion which is promising considering the quality of teams we are going to be up against in the Challenge Cup and he has won us a few games already this year."
Overseas player Morne Venter was the glue that held everything together while chasing 215 against Cregagh, scoring 81* and he kept his cool while wickets fell around him to drag his side over the line by a narrow margin. Aaron Kinnin (43) played a crucial hand to help ease the pressure but it's clear that Derriaghy have found a gem in the 24-year-old South African.
"It's no secret that Morne is a fantastic player, especially with the bat – he's hard-hitting yet at the same time knows how to pace an innings and reads the game really well," said Moorhead. "We can rely on him every single week with bat and ball, and he's a gentleman too who is a credit to his family and the club."
In their pursuit for Premier League cricket, Derriaghy have looked to make constant improvements and this week signed Muckamore captain Sam Gordon, who will add yet more depth and quality to the batting line-up. They missed out on promotion last season on net run-rate, finishing third behind Cliftonville Academy and Cregagh in one of the tightest league campaigns ever, and Moorhead is determined to reach the promised land in his first full season as captain.
"We are trying to put an emphasis on building a really strong squad," he said. "I'm not going to keep any secrets – we hope to go to the Premier League next season. We worked hard in the off-season and Matty Halliday has scored 350+ runs at an average of around 40, Ross Bailey has supported him and then there's Morne and Craig. Those two again up top with the ball is really helpful and then you have tight bowlers like Wayne and myself to follow, which means it's hard for any team to score many runs against us.
"The last two years, we have lost the league on run-rate alone. I don't think the conversation was ever really had discussing if we were really going to go for it, whereas this year I've made it very clear that's the goal for the first team. "We want a successful club and the first team in the Premier League. All being well, we continue playing good cricket and get over the line."
They currently sit four points behind leaders Templepatrick but have a game in hand and Moorhead is looking to turn this campaign into a memorable one with silverware aplenty to contest for.
"The goal at the start of the season was to be successful and part of that is winning silverware," he added. Yes, the main goal is the league, but any trophy or cup is a huge success for the club. Getting to the T20 final is a fantastic achievement and the Challenge Cup semi-final is great too. "We know we will come close in the league and it's just about keeping our heads down. That's not to mention the National Cup too! It's a great problem to have and we don't take anything for granted. We play hard and always try to play our best cricket no matter the opponent."
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