A place in the semi-final of the Goldblatt McGuigan Junior Cup beckons for Academy, but they face a stiff challenge in Donaghcloney this weekend.
The County Armagh club are already mounting a serious promotion challenge as they bid to regain their Section 1 status at the first attempt.
They share joint pole position in Section 2 with Saturday’s opponents, Academy, so the clash of these two table-toppers will surely be billed the Junior Cup Match of the Day.
With home advantage the villagers will be slight favourites, but Matthew Palmer’s lads will go in to the tie with confidence, boosted by four straight wins.
Evergreen all-rounder, David Greenlees, who holds most of the club’s batting records, has been quiet this season, but he normally reserves his best performances for the Junior Cup, having been influential in bringing the trophy to their Hydepark headquarters a record four times in the past decade. Academy’s recent impressive form continued on Saturday at Castle Grounds, where they had five wickets to spare against Laurelvale in a Section 2 fixture.
New Zealanders Andre Halbert and Mitchell Atkins played an important part in the win, with Halbert returning the best bowling figures, while Atkins’ first century for the club was the highlight.
Laurelvale posted 192 for 8, with Halbert taking the bowling honours with 3 for 24, supported by Waqas Mohammed (2 for 40), Greenlees (1 for 34), Chris Halliday (1 for 37) and Atkins (1 for 38), while Halbert was responsible for the run-out with a neat return to wicket keeper Palmer.
In reply Atkins was in splendid form with the bat, racing to his 102 off only 69 balls, and in one over he hit the unfortunate bowler’s first three deliveries for sixes.
Halbert with 29 and Mark Shields with 23 also made significant contributions to the winning total of 193 for 5, in which the best partnership of the afternoon was 56 between Atkins and Halbert for the first wicket.
Bowled out for only 100, Chris Magee’s 2nd XI were thrashed by 10 wickets by Muckamore II in a Junior League Section 2 fixture
The 3rd XI lost to Derriaghy III who scored 186 for 7, and then bowled out Adam Sloan’s lads for only 52.
The Thirds, in action again on Sunday, were beaten by Dundrum. Knocks of 46 by Conor Boyd and an unbeaten 38 by skipper Sloan underpinned Academy’s total of 171, but the County Down lads collected the points with three wickets to spare. Jordan Ryles and Michael Colhoun were the most successful bowlers.