Saturday will see the 2019 GMcG Junior Cup final take place as Muckamore II take on North Down II at Lisburn Cricket Club (11am). North Down will be looking to clinch their 10th title since the competition began back in 1891. Meanwhile, Muckamore will be looking to win their eighth title and their seventh outright. The cup was shared between Bangor II and Muckamore II in 1983.
Both sides have enjoyed success against Robinson Services Senior League sides this season, with North Down seeing off Cooke Collegians and Lurgan. The Comber side bowled the latter out of 26 in the third round. Muckamore brushed aside Monaghan and Belfast Superkings on their road to Wallace Park.
Muckamore’s young guns Luke Allen and Arnold Oduvelil have impressed on their cup run, scoring runs and taking wickets. The latter earned a call-up to the NCU U16 squad for a festival later in the month. On North Down’s run, the experienced Peter Shields and Hamilton Coulter played their part.
The former scored an unbeaten 139 in the semi-final, while Coulter struck 53 in the win over Lisburn. The league meeting between these two teams earlier in the season was a tight contest. North Down ran out victors by only six runs. Stephen Scott top-scored with 31 to see his team over the line.
Earlier in the week, North Down captain, Peter Shields, said: “Our primary focus will be enjoying the day. We have a minibus going to Lisburn with us so it’ll be a great occasion. All season we haven’t been taking ourselves too seriously and enjoyed our cricket.”
He also spoke about North Down’s reputation in the cup, adding: “My dad is a North Down historian and he was telling me about how many titles the 2nd XI has won it would be amazing if we could add to it on Saturday.
It’s my first year in the Junior League and I didn’t know what to expect, but we’ve put in some good performances. We’ve used 21 players in the Junior Cup this season which has been incredible. For those that play on Saturday, the message will be to enjoy the day and soak up the atmosphere.”
Giving a word on the opposition, Shields explained: “Muckamore are a strong side and have been there or thereabouts for a few years in Junior One and the league match earlier in the year showed us that. If we win or lose it won’t be through lack of experience but we’ll be able to sit down afterwards and enjoy the occasion with everyone.”
Speaking at a media event last week, Muckamore captain Les Allen said: “It has been 20 years or so since we were last in the final. It’ll be a big occasion for us all.”
Talking about North Down, Allen explained: “Look, you only have to look at their teams down through the years. Whether it’s their first team or second team there are some big names in there and they’ll be a strong outfit.”
Muckamore will have their fair share of youth in their side and Allen reflected on that, saying: “The young players in our group should fare okay on Saturday. They’ve played in finals and semi-finals before so they know what to expect.”