Instonians booked their spot in the Robinson Services Cup semi-finals with a seven-wicket victory over Carrickfergus at Shaws Bridge on Saturday.
In the only top-flight game that was played, Carrick could only muster 81/7 before Instonians chased it down in 10 overs thanks to 28* off just 12 balls from Shane Getkate and Marcus Poskitt’s 25* off 18 deliveries.
They have now set up a semi-final with hosts North Down at The Green next Saturday and captain Andrew White was delighted to achieve their pre-season goal of play-off qualification.
“At the start of the year, that was our goal,” he said.
“We knew what we were trying to do with the players that we had.
“The 2s have won their league as well today which is fantastic and we have manged to get into the top four.
“For next weekend, it’s a case of never knowing what can happen.
“The boys are playing decent cricket. We have been a bit on and off but when we have been on, we have played really well.”
White has put an emphasis on youth development during this shortened campaign with seven players under the age of 20 in the side against Carrick while eight under-18’s helped seal the Junior One title for the 2nd XI earlier in the day.
It is a process that is working for them and White says it’s testament to the hard work being carried out by the whole squad.
“It was our target to see if we could get this team into the top four and we have done that.
“We have put in a lot of hard work. We have had 20+ players at training every night this year and it’s pleasing that the effort that has gone in off the pitch has been rewarded on it.”
Lisburn’s home encounter with North Down and CIYMS’ game against Woodvale were both called off on Friday evening while Waringstown and CSNI’s winner-takes-all clash at The Lawn bit the dust due to a wet outfield.
With both teams receiving two points after no result, it ensured Waringstown’s qualification while CSNI moved up one spot into fourth, leaving Instonians needing to win and they did so comfortably, leapfrogging both sides into third position.
It means Waringstown will face off against CIYMS on Saturday in the other semi-final before the two winners return to Comber the following day for a final.
The bad weather has heavily impacted the final two rounds of league fixtures and White was just pleased to get some game time heading into a crunch weekend.
“A special thanks to the ground staff who worked tirelessly yesterday and all morning to get the games on.
“I know the weather has been tough but it has allowed us to get a win today and go into next weekend having played, whereas the others won’t have played in three weeks.”
North Down, who face CIYMS in the LVS Twenty20 Cup final at The Green on Sunday, will enter as favourites after beating Instonians twice already this season.
With the likes of Getkate in their ranks, you can never write Instonians off and White believes if his men show up, it could be a very competitive contest.
“North Down are a good side and have strength in depth.
“We have played poorly against them both times this year, but it’s a one-off game and we are good enough to turn them over if we play well.”