3 September 2015

WARINGSTOWN and Merrion will both be at full strength for their Irish Senior Cup final clash at The Lawn on Saturday (11:30am).

The teams look evenly matched, with both going into the blue riband decider in good form. Waringstown all but wrapped up the NCU title with a ten wicket win at Lisburn in midweek, while Merrion's one wicket win at North County took them to the summit of LCU Division One.
"Everyone as you can imagine is really looking forward to the showpiece final of the year," said Waringstown captain Lee Nelson.
"The fact that it is on our home ground makes it that extra bit special. Glenavon were due to play Portadown the same day in the mid Ulster derby which has been postponed so we are hoping to have a bumper crowd enabling the whole local community to come and watch the cricket," added the Ireland A all-rounder.
Waringstown have enjoyed fantastic support during the competition this season - a fact acknowledged by Nelson: "To be fair we’ve had great support the whole way through the competition - especially in our wins at both Clontarf and Pembroke, and I'm hoping that continues."
The Waringstown skipper acknowledged the difficult challenge that awaits his side from the Dubliners. "Merrion for me are an excellent side, littered with experience and match winners throughout.
"We are obviously going to have to play very very well on the day to get our hands on the trophy. Here’s hoping the weather holds up and we get a great game between two very strong sides.
There are six Irish internationals in the Waringstown starting XI - Kyle McCallan, Johnny Bushe, Gary Kidd, James Hall, Greg Thompson and Phil Eaglestone, while Nelson, Adam Dennison and James McCollum have played for Ireland at U19 level.
Although their talismanic professional Ruhan Pretorius is absent, the club have moved quickly to secure a replacement in Titans all-rounder JP De Villiers.
Merrion have no injury concerns ahead of the game with skipper Rory Allwright declaring a clean bill of health for the Angelsea Road side.
"Our injury concerns from a number of weeks back have fortunately calmed in such a way that we’re happy to be bringing our strongest team up to The Lawn," said Allwright.
"Given that four of our players - Joyce, Anderson, Kane and Stanton -have been unavailable at some point or other due to representative commitments, it’s nice at this stage to have a full squad available to select from.
"That's tough for the guys who will miss out on the day but they have been very supportive and we’re fully all aware that it’s been a squad effort getting us to this stage of the competition.
Allwright is undaunted by the fact that they will be facing Waringstown on their home patch, and points out that some of their strongest performances in recent times have come on their travels.
"Having played in Waringstown on a couple of occasions before we are looking forward to the challenge of playing in the opposition’s home ground. Our players have generally all stepped up when we’ve gone on the road before so it’s something we will be looking forward to. For any team playing in a final however, the thought process has to be that you're prepared enough to play the game anywhere and not rely or worry to much about the venue."

Allwright is pleased that the all-round strength and depth in the Merrion squad will serve his team well in the high pressure decider.

"Having a squad with the depth we have this season, we’ve seen young players stepping into the role of real leaders and different players coming forward every week with contributions when we’ve needed them has been refreshing from a captaincy position.
"There’s a really great mix of the young and old and getting the best out of everyone has been mostly about making sure everyone's enjoying playing for team. As the leader of the group I’d hope to see 11 guys have a really outstanding day on the field, in whatever they do."
The Merrion skipper is all too aware of the threat posed by Waringstown, but backs his side to come out on top.
"Waringstown clearly have very strong team with game winners with ball or bat and a few heads who have been around for a while and will know how to win games from tight situations - a bit like some of our own.
"We’re just looking forward to getting up there and enjoying a really competitive game."
WARINGSTOWN: Lee Nelson (captain), James Hall, James McCollum, Lee Nelson, Adam Dennison, JP De Villiers, Greg Thompson, David Dawson, Kyle McCallan, Johnny Bushe, Gary Kidd, Phil Eaglestone, 12th/13th James Mitchell and Stuart Kidd
MERRION: Rory Allwright (captain), Dom Joyce, Dave Langford-Smith, John Anderson, Tyrone Kane, Michael Lewis, Lennard Bester, Robin Smith, David Rhoda, Tom Stanton, Hugh Kennedy.
Cup final facts:
This will be the fourth final appearance for both sides, with Waringstown having won the competiton three times (1983, 1992, 2011) and Merrion once - in 2010.
There have been 33 finals to date, with 13 winners from Leinster, 12 from the NCU and 8 from the NW.
18 different clubs have won the competition, with North County (5), Limavady (3), Lurgan (3), North Down (3) and Waringstown (3) the most successful.

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