All roads lead to Comber this Friday 2nd August for the Gallagher Challenge Cup Final with play due to start at 11.00am. The Final sees CIYMS attempt to win their second trophy out of a possible five this season, having already captured the LVS T20 Cup recently in a thrilling last ball win over Waringstown.
Standing in their way on Friday will be Instonians in what will be the third time the teams have met in the Final since 2015. CIYMS came out on top on both occasions and the Belmont team will be hoping for a similar outcome this time round but Instonians have been good in white ball cricket this season and will be no pushovers.
Led by Andrew White, Ireland’s Chairman of Selectors, returning to his old stomping ground at The Green, who will use all of his experience to get the best out of his team and who knows it maybe third time lucky for the Seahorses! Although they have doubts over their final team selection due to player availability and Club Chairman Norman Shannon explained that they have listed 16 players for the Final, including a number of youngsters such as James Rose and James Lambert and the one surprise in the squad is former Ireland international wicketkeeper batsman Rory McCann. This is to cover for Oliver Metcalfe and James Hunter who are away with the Ireland U19’s in Holland and the Club are hoping that they will return in time to play in the final.
Undoubtedly Instonians will miss Ireland international James Shannon who is ineligible but will rely on Nikolai Smith, Murray Commins, Shane Getkate and Andrew White to score heavily along with Metcalfe and Hunter if they make it! They have plenty of options on the bowling front with seamers Josh Manley, James Magee and Rob McKinley all capable of taking wickets and backed up by Ireland all-rounder Shane Getkate. Spinners White and Ben Rose will also play a part in the Instonians challenge.
CIYMS, on paper, have arguably the strongest squad in the NCU and will go into Friday’s final as favourites. Nigel Jones said his team were excited to get to another final and were very much looking forward to it. They will be at full strength and will decide on Friday their XI for the final. Nigel said that the defeat by Carrickfergus was a good thing and has made the side refocus and get their sharpness back and they are determined to give a top performance on Friday.
They have match winners right through their team with Jones himself leading from the front contributing with both bat and ball as well as leading the team astutely. In Obus Pienaar they have a quality all-rounder who is capable of changing the course of a match with the bat in a few overs and Chris Dougherty has been having a very good season with the bat also. The spin twins James Cameron-Dow and Jacob Mulder have been in top form and Alan Coulter has been very good with new ball this season, form which earned him a call up to the Northern Knights. Add to this the all-round skills of new Ireland Test debutant Mark Adair and you can see that CIYMS have got all bases covered.
That’s as maybe but as we all know it’s who and how they perform on the day. Hopefully the weather will be kind and we get an entertaining day’s cricket. Good luck to both sides.
Thanks go to the sponsors of the Cup competition – Gallagher Insurance and I’m sure Shane Matthews and his team will enjoy the day at Comber.
Match balls for the Final have been sponsored by Cartwrights Sports Ltd.