We are down to the last four in both the Irish Senior and National Cups. Eight teams hoping to make it through to Finals weekend at Bready on September 2nd and 3rd.
In the Senior Cup, there are two, Northern Cricket Union versus Leinster Cricket Union, ties.
Waringstown host Pembroke at The Lawn having beaten Coleraine by 8 wickets and Merrion by 3 wickets in the previous rounds. Instonians travel to North Dublin to face The Hills with Ireland’s newest international call-up in their line-up.
Nathan Smith is very confident that this could be their year in the Senior Cup. “We haven’t been playing too well as a team in the league but in the cups we’ve blended together and we’re confident we have the ability, talent and skill to be able to take it all the way.”
Smith has bowled well all summer and took 2 wickets in the victory over Brigade in round 2 but was outshone on the day by Robert McKinley’s remarkable 5-7! For The Hills, Albert van de Merwe has twice taken 4 wickets including 4-22 in the quarter-final victory over Balbriggan.
The Hills have the likes of Van der Merwe, Max Sorensen and the Wolves’ Sean Terry who could turn the game in their favour. For Instonians there’s Northern Knights’ James Shannon and Nikolai Smith who will look to do well as well as Smith of course, who isn’t worried about Ireland v Netherlands being a distraction.
“No I don’t think so; I find if you don’t look too far ahead you’re going to be in a better situation. We’ll just focus on what’s in front of us and as soon as that game’s over I’ll then turn attention to next week.”
In the other semi-final Pembroke travel north to take on Waringstown at The Lawn.
Pembroke have had three comfortable home victories in the competition so far, defeating County Galway by 141 runs, Bready by 9 wickets in a re-fixed match and then beating North Down by 76 runs in the quarter-final.
Centuries from Theo Lawson, Nick Cutler and Andrew Balbirnie were the cornerstone of each victory. The round two match at Bready which was rained off would have been Pembroke’s only away match in the Cup this year.
Instead they travel for the first time in the semi-final, and to face a Waringstown side that are playing at the business end of cup competitions every weekend at the moment.
An unbeaten 91 from James Hall in round 2 saw them past Coleraine by 8 wickets. In the heavyweight quarter-final, Waringstown restricted Merrion to 195/9 off their 50 overs. Then, an unbeaten century from James McCollum saw Waringstown home by 3 wickets with more than 10 overs remaining.
Could this match be about which bowling attack can nullify the opposing top-order?
In the National Cup, Strabane and Derriaghy travel to Dublin to face Terenure and Malahide respectively.
Strabane are in the competition for the first time and will be looking to get passed Terenure and clinch a spot in the final which is being held in the North West at Bready.
Strabane have beaten Cliftonville, Cregagh and County Kerry to reach Saturday’s semi-final. Their hosts, Terenure, have defeated Holywood, Limerick and Rush to get this far; their round 2 match against Limerick requiring a super over to find a winner.
Malahide have defeated Glendermott, Downpatrick and Midleton en route to the semi-finals and will be hoping Ireland international Peter Chase can take them through to the National final. Derriaghy however have had comfortable victories over St Johnston, Sion Mills and Knockharley and it will be a fascinating match on Saturday at Malahide.
The winners of Saturday’s semi-finals will meet in the National Cup final on September 3rd in Bready.
Irish Senior Cup, Semi-finals, Saturday August 12th, 12.30pm
Waringstown v Pembroke, The Lawn
The Hills v Instonians, The Vineyard
Irish National Cup, Semi-finals, Saturday August 12th, 13.30
Malahide v Derriaghy, Malahide
Terenure v Strabane, Terenure