Lisburn Twos can cause a shock in Junior Cup decider

Michael Turkington is planning the downfall of his former side. INNT 10-300-RS
Michael Turkington is planning the downfall of his former side. INNT 10-300-RS

Lisburn CC Seconds will approach Saturday’s Junior Cup final bursting at the seams with confidence.

They know they face a tough task as they come up against Senior Two side Cliftonville at Muckamore at 11am.

On paper, the locals will be the underdogs. Cliftonville have lost only once in the third tier of NCU cricket all season.

One look at their panel, though, defies their role as unfancied outsiders.

At captain Richard Finlay’s disposal are some seasoned NCU campaigners and ex-senior players in the form of Michael Turkington, Derek Suffern, Carl Williams and Neil Doak.

Turkington was a Cliftonville player just last season and will bring some inside knowledge of his former team.

Meanwhile, Doak in particular has an outstanding pedigree. He played for Ireland 32 times with a top score of 84 not out against Surrey and was selected in the all-time Lisburn CC XI.

A dual sportsman, he also played 76 times for Ulster Rugby. And he’s only one of Lisburn’s dangerous quartet.

“Neil is a one club man,” said skipper Finlay.

“You wouldn’t know it from talking to him as he is a pretty humble guy, but it will be no surprise if he does something special with bat or ball.”

The captain will also be looking to his other trio of experienced stars to lead his team to victory.

“Michael (Turkington) has been a breath of fresh air,” said Finlay. “A quality batsman, a cool, smooth head and a superb team mate, the Turk always gives his best.

“Derek Suffern is calmness personified. A one club man who bowls off breaks, he is miserly with the ball in his hand. Suff doesn’t suffer fools and doesn’t like to give runs off his bowling but a recent 40 shows he hasn’t forgotten how to hold a bat either.

“Carl Williams is the second of the spinners. ‘Wonkle’ has the happy knack of picking up vital wickets at vital times. Having played senior cricket for around 30 years, Carl has not lost the desire to win and his team-mates expect him to feature well on Saturday.

“He’s also no mug with the bat and his numerous senior 50s show that. His position at nine in the batting shows how strong the team potentially is.”

Lisburn are bidding to win the trophy for the first time since 1992. Finlay himself will have plenty of experience to draw upon. He won two Junior Cup titles in the mid-90s as he reached three consecutive finals with NICC.

He also played in the decider for Lisburn two seasons ago, when they lost out to Academy.

“Complementing the spinners are the other three seamers in the team. Vice-captain Richard Booth is a shrewd bowler who bowls seam up and is one of the best tail end batsman in Junior One,” continued Finlay as he gave the full low-down on his cup final hopefuls.

“Evidence of this was provided by his match-winning knock in the first round when Lisburn needed 50 for the last wicket.

“Graeme Browne is another excellent all-rounder in the team. Graeme bats four and takes the new ball for the team.

“Young Calum Irvine is playing in his second Junior Cup Final having bowled very well two years ago. Calum is a left arm opening bowler of decent pace and is an excellent fielder.

“Completing the team are Glenn Halliday and Jonny Ritchie. Glenn bats three and is the best batsman in the team. He scores quickly and is very quick to punish anything off line.

“Jonny is the wicket keeper and he can certainly time a cricket ball as well. He is possibly the most destructive batsman in the team.”

Lisburn certainly fancy their chances of a cup upset. And if that happens, there will be one big party back in the city on Saturday night.