31 July 2014

There's always a buzz about a cup final because the stakes are high in any face-to-face winner-take-all confrontation.


That's not to say we can ignore the merit in reaching the showpiece, but once there, a team knows they just have to win one match and the trophy is theirs.
The 2014 NCU Challenge Cup Final or the "Senior Cup" as we all know it better, will be just a s tense and testing as any that have gone before. It is a great honour for any local player to play in a Senior Cup Final and a huge part of a player's CV to have played in it more than one. That's important as experience counts and most of the players on the Waringstown and Civil Service North teams have it.
Cup holders Waringstown go into this final on a high as they are sitting at the top of the Senior League and have recently reached the final of the Ulster Cup. Their cup pedigree is impressive with two wins in the last three years and a host of wins in previous years from some of the best teams to grace the NCU stage. Civil Service North last won the cup in 2008 and lost to Waringstown at Wallace Park in the 2011 final. However, the club's pedigree embraces the old North of Ireland Cricket Club, which is steeped in Senior Cup folklore. This all adds up to an intriguing final between two clubs that have a strong Senior Cup tradition and who will be determined to add another notch to their impressive records.
For what it is worth Waringstown go into this match as clear favourites, but they know better than anyone not to underestimate their Stormont opponents, who inflicted their only league defeat on them back at the end of June. On their day Civil Service North can beat any club in Ireland, but therein lies their Achilles Heel as consistency has often been their downfall. Both teams are packed with talented representative players and each can easily boast a plethora of potential match winners. But not everyone comes good in every match so when all is said and done it is performance on the day that will determine the outcome.
Most neutrals will still opt for Waringstown, especially with the prolific Kyle McCallan still at the top of his game, but CSN skipper Nigel Jones is just as capable with either bat or ball and perhaps their individual performances hold the key to the outcome?
The match will be staged at The Green in Comber which is normally a batting track guaranteed to produce high scoring. These days the final is one innings so it is all or nothing for both teams and posting a high score is vital or the task will be uphill thereafter. Both teams have enjoyed success at Comber so the setting will be welcomed for them and their supporters. For their part the North Down members and their effervescent groundsman Raymond Moreland will roll out the red carpet for the cup finalists so let's hope everyone enjoys the occasion.
The match starts at 11am and the umpires are Alan Neil and Jareth McCready with Phil Thompson in support. Let's get along to Comber and support the occasion and our loyal sponsor Ulster Bank. A big crowd adds a lot to the atmosphere especially late on Friday afternoon when either Lee Nelson or Nigel Jones will deliver their victory speech.
Good luck to everyone and may the best team win.

Clarence Hiles


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