GMcG Junior Cup Semi-Finals Preview

Jul 11, 2024 | General News

It’s all to play for on Saturday as we reach the business end of the GMcG Junior Cup with two teams looking to book their place in the final at Upritchard Park, Bangor on Saturday 3rd August.

Lisburn II v Downpatrick (at The Meadow, Downpatrick)

Lisburn II will travel to The Meadow due to Wallace Park hosting the Gallagher Challenge Cup semi-final repeat in what could be a successful day for the club if both 1st and 2nd teams reach a major final. After losing out at this stage in last year’s competition to eventual winners Lurgan, Stuart Lightbody’s side will hope to put things right in Saturday’s fixture, “We are delighted with our Junior Cup run so far. We battled through a very tight first round at CSNI and with all of the rain at the start of the season I think this was just our second game, so we felt undercooked going into it, but pleased to come out the other end with a win. We followed that up with two fairly comfortable victories in Wallace Park against Dunmurry and Muckamore.

Callum Atkinson of Lisburn. Photo credit: Maynard Collins

We look forward to travelling to Downpatrick on Saturday for the semi-final. Our plan doesn’t change, we are a tight group of mates who show up each week to enjoy ourselves, and hopefully showcase some of the cricket we are capable of. In the last three years, we’ve done well in the GMcG Junior Cup, reaching two finals and a semi-final. The all-important win has evaded us, so we are hungry to win it this year.”

Downpatrick will relish the opportunity to play at The Meadow and keep home advantage as they welcome Lisburn II to their historic ground. They will be without their in-form overseas player and captain Marco Wyngard, however, vice-captain Hamza Khan is optimistic and excited about the fixture, “This season has marked an extraordinary resurgence for our club, transitioning from a period of inactivity at the ex-international ground post-COVID to fielding three senior teams and a midweek team. This transformation highlights the dedication and passion of everyone involved at the club. Our journey in the GMcG Junior Cup has been nothing short of exceptional, with comprehensive victories in every match. As we prepare to face the always formidable Lisburn, we are looking forward to an exciting and competitive game.

The Downpatrick team, Photo credit: Dillon Osborne

The upcoming semi-final in Downpatrick is set to be a major event, and we anticipate strong support from the local community. Their enthusiasm and backing have been instrumental in our success this season. Winning the GMcG Junior Cup would be a significant milestone for us, especially as it’s the 175th anniversary of the club. It would go a long way to symbolise our efforts to rebuild and restore our legacy. We are committed to this journey and are excited about the bright future ahead.”

Larne v Waringstown II

Onto Sandy Bay where Larne host Waringstown II in what will be the first time Larne have reached a Junior Cup semi-final in many years which highlights the hard work and improvements at the club on and off the field. They’ve earned their spot in the semi-finals with wins over fellow Section Two sides and will look to put in a big performance against tough opponents from Junior League One, Larne’s Chris Keenan said, “The cup run so far has been quite straightforward. It’s always a bonus to have a bye in the first round and to play all our games at home! The team has been in excellent form after a few shaky performances at the beginning of the season. Being unbeaten in the last 5 matches is a significant morale boost, especially when you have a winning mindset.

Larne captain Chris Keenan in action. Photo credit: Dillon Osborne

We are fully aware of the tough challenge that awaits us on Saturday. Waringstown boasts a strong team with a mix of youth and experience, but we are ready for the battle, with reaching the final being our sole focus now. At the start of the season, we set goals as a club, one of which was to reach a cup final and experience that memorable day that has eluded us for so long. Larne as a club is determined to move past the dark times and evolve into a forward-thinking club, making strides towards the future. The hard work put in behind the scenes to secure funding, make upgrades, obtain grants, and develop youth plans is truly exciting and I am proud to be a part of it. If all our players give their best performance on Saturday, I have no doubt that an upset could be on the cards.”

Waringstown II will endeavour to continue their fine form in the competition calling on their mixture of experienced ex and current Premier League players and up-and-coming young players to book their spot in Bangor on the 3rd of August and seek their 3rd Junior Cup trophy. Their skipper Alistair Speer added, “At the start of the season the GMcG Junior Cup was a target for both the club and the squad. We have a good balance of experience and youth within the squad, ranging from 17 to let’s just say very old, (that is me I am describing). All of us are very determined to bring the Trophy to The Lawn as 2002 was the last time Waringstown won the trophy.

Waringstown II skipper Alistair Speer behind the stumps. Photo credit: Dillon Osborne

The GMcG Junior Cup run has brought some very good performances this year, all against quality sides from Senior League 2 in Bangor, Ards & Donaghadee and BISC. All these games have been played in great spirit and we have made new cricketing acquaintances along the way. We are looking forward to the semi-final against another quality Senior League 2 side in Larne. We also are looking forward to playing at Sandy Bay; credit has to be given to Larne for all the investment and development work performed at Sandy Bay so we can’t wait to play there.”

Two exciting ties await us!

You can follow the GMcG Junior Cup semi-finals live on NV Play:

Larne CC will be live-streaming the game on their YouTube channel: