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Irish Senior Cup Semi-Finals Roundup

Jonny Morton  

Two NCU teams will meet in the Irish Senior Cup final for the first time in 11 years after Lisburn and CIYMS both created history by reaching a maiden decider on Sunday.

The last occurrence of two local sides facing off in the final was back in 2011 when Waringstown beat Instonians by 21 runs at The Green in Comber and there is now guaranteed to be a new name on the famous trophy on Saturday, 27 August as well as a 16th Irish Senior Cup title for a NCU team. Lisburn and CIYMS have been the two most impressive teams in the Robinson Services Premier League this season with the former aiming to wrap up a first league title since 1996 in a matter of weeks while CI sit second and are in best position to stop them.

They also met in the Gallagher Challenge Cup semi-finals earlier this month where CI ran out victors by six wickets to set up a final against CSNI and the Belmont outfit will be looking to finally lift the one trophy that has eluded them during a period of dominance of the local game.

CIYMS, who had beaten defending champions Pembroke in the quarter-finals, were on the road once again to Phoenix and after a long wait to get on the field due to inclement weather, they had instant success as Allen Coulter (2-20) reduced their opponents to 35-2 in a revised 25-over game. Phoenix captain Tyrone Kane (15) – who has been in splendid form at Inter-Provincial level with the Munster Reds - was always going to be the wicket that CI desired most and John Matchett (3-19) continued his purple patch by picking up the prize scalp.

Matchett was named Man of the Match as CIYMS picked up the LVS Twenty20 Cup two weeks ago and followed it up with a century against Pembroke before a blistering 83 for the Northern Knights three days ago and struck twice more to leave the hosts reeling at 82-5. Keith Dudgeon (2-32) and Graeme Kennedy (1-23) combined to ensure Phoenix weren't able to gather any late momentum as they finished on 116-9.

With Ross Adair and Mark Adair both unavailable, even more importance was placed on the CIYMS top order and Matchett (55) and Chris Dougherty (10) got their side off to a solid start before the latter was trapped lbw with the score on 40. That triggered a mini collapse with Jack Beattie (2) and Kennedy (6) falling shortly after, but Matchett found support in Captain Nigel Jones (18no) and the pair went about steering their side to victory with 60 needed in just under 15 overs.

The duo had brought them to within 25 runs of victory when Matchett was caught off the bowling of Ben White shortly after reaching yet another half-century but it was too little, too late for Phoenix as CI secured a well-deserved six-wicket triumph.

Meanwhile in front of home support at Wallace Park, Lisburn's 78-run victory over Clontarf was set up by a battling performance by the batters before a clinical bowling display blew their Leinster-based opponents away. Faiz Fazal (51) led the way for Lisburn but was well-supported by Neil Whitworth (36) as the pair shared a second wicket stand of 65 and David Simpson (45) steadied the ship after Fazal's dismissal to help push his side up to a winning score alongside some fireworks from Adam Berry (24) and David Miller (20).

They finished on 231-8 but with the Clontarf line-up stacked full of quality and dangerous players, such as Eoghan Delany, David Delany and PJ Moor, Callum Atkinson's side knew they needed to start well and they did just that.

Josh Manley (1-14) picked up a wicket in the first over before a brilliant spell from Neil Whitworth (3-36) accounted for both Delany brothers either side of Matthew Humphreys (3-40) bowling Munster Reds skipper Moor (10). A seventh wicket partnership was building between McNally (32) and McGeehan (24) as they tried to recover from a position of 59-6 and the score had reached 117 before Fazal (2-29) picked up both wickets within the space of two overs.

Credit must also go to the role played by Lisburn legend David Simpson who despite going wicketless produced yet another key hand with the new ball, finishing with figures of 0-14 – including three maidens – from his eight overs to starve the Clontarf batsmen of any early opportunity. It's perhaps poetic that it was Atkinson – a player who has progressed through the ranks at Lisburn to now holding the role of first team captain – picked up the final wicket that sealed his club's spot in a very first final.

After a special day for cricket in this area, attention will now turn to Friday's Gallagher Challenge Cup final with CIYMS dreaming of a third consecutive crown at The Green. CSNI will be looking to spoil the party and make it a perfect club double after their women's side beat Waringstown by 28 runs in the Women's Challenge Cup last weekend. Rachael Thomas (59) and Ali Cowan (55no) helped the Stormont side reach 142-2 before the Villagers fell short after an all-round bowling display.

The action in Comber will get underway at 11am.

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