...of the Down Democrat Challenge Cup that there was a carnival atmosphere at Wallace Park on Saturday.
Against the backdrop of music blaring in the background and the commentary on Ireland’s Strongest Man competition, Lisburn confirmed their position as the strongest team in the NCU currently.
The story goes that if you get Gerry Strydom out early then Lisburn’s batting will fold. Perhaps that was the thought in the back of CSN’s captain Nigel Jones mind when he looked at the scoreboard to see 24 for 1, as Strydom trudged off, caught behind by Rob Arthur off the bowling of Allen Coulter.
Remarkably Strydom had scored 23 from 13 balls faced and crashed 5 boundaries, smashing Kieran Noema Barnett out of the attack after only 4 overs.
Coulter then beat Richard Simpson for pace and it was 28 for 2, but this was to be as good as it got for the TCH cup holders. Ryan and Craig Irvine rebuilt with a partnership of 62 for the third wicket, with a strangely out of sorts Regan West going at almost 6 runs an over in his 10.
Ryan made 39 with three boundaries and Craig 34 with 4 fours and a six, but on such a festival occasion they were merely the warm up acts.
Lisburn captain Greg Thompson stole the show with the innings of the day, 79 from 84 deliveries. Once past 50 he took a liking to Colin Andrews and had the spectators diving for cover as he dispatched him in successive balls onto the pavilion steps, over deep square leg much to the chagrin of Coulter who was fielding there.
John Costain finally got his man when he attempted on big shot to many and Regan West held a good catch at deep mid wicket.
Lisburn failed to last the 50 overs as Noema Barnett returned to pick up two cheap wickets at the end but those who had seen the previous week’s performance against Waringstown probably reckoned that 233 was enough.
Other seasoned Lisburn watchers were concerned that a bowling attack minus flu victim David Simpson might struggle against Noema Barnett, Jones and West. Nine overs into the reply their fears were allayed by a look at the board which showed CSN in tatters and their cup defence effectively over at 48 for 6.
Ryan Ervine had risen to the challenge with 5 for 30 from his 8 overs and the aforementioned “Big Three” had mustered just 29 between them. For good measure Thompson had taken the catches to remove both Jones and West and then polished off the CSN tail with 3 for 23.
CSN were all out for 104, with less than half their overs unused and no one managed to pass 20.
TCH Man of the Match adjudicator Billy Boyd had no real difficulty in his decision, which he described as “a formality”, but I suspect that Ryan Ervine must have entered his thoughts at some stage.
At Belmont the home side were not having their troubles to seek off the pitch with professional Paul Rofe departing allegedly with “the yips” and Thinus Fourie suspended by the club for two games on an internal disciplinary matter.
So it really did not help that they ran into a Kyle McCallan inspired Waringstown. Surprisingly McCallan was only the fifth choice bowler on the day but he was by far the most effective. An analysis of 4 for 26 speaks for itself.
Only Richard Lucas and Neil Gelston managed to get over 20. Lucas made the top score on the day with 64 from 91 balls with three sixes and 3 fours, without him the game would have been over a lot earlier.
James Hall and Ian Morrison laid the foundations for Waringstown with 63 run opening partnership and just when Hall seemed about to cut loose having hit two huge sixes he was clean bowled by Derek Heasley.
Lee Nelson did not look comfortable and he too was bowled this time by Hanna, but this only set the stage for McCallan’s arrival. By now the crowd had grown in numbers as those watching the British Lions came onto the balcony in the late afternoon sunshine.
From a slow start it was not long before he was in full blossom treating the crowd to a tremendous display of footwork and dazzling array of stroke making. The only downside was that it was all too brief.
45 balls it lasted, 10 fours and one beautifully timed six, before with winning post in sight he swung at ex Downpatrick man Neil Gelston, who emerged with some credit taking 3 for 27 and CI skipper Heasley took the catch.
Waringstown won by 8 wickets with almost 18 overs to spare and it was again a formality as McCallan went up to receive the Man of the Match award from Kieran Moloney, CEO of TCH Democrat Media.
Instonians professional Divan van Wyck had an eventful day at Carrickfergus; his ninth over lasted for sixteen deliveries and contained a wicket, eight wides, two no balls and not a run off the bat, skipper Eugene Moleon did not ask him to bowl his 10th, presumably in the interests of completing the game before nightfall.
In fairness by this stage he had taken 5 for 40. In reality Carrick were staring down the barrel from the moment, Moleon, who only conceded 10 runs from his 10 overs, removed Paul Stirling for a third ball duck and Instonians passed their 144 at a canter.
Van Wyck made 52 out of an opening partnership of 90 with Jon Stevenson who finished 48 not out and Andrew White was unbeaten on 38.
North Down look to be moving into ominous form at Comber with Iain Robertson picking up the Down Democrat crystal here for his 118 out of a total of 290 for 5, Ryan Haire made 67.
Woodvale were never in the hunt and eventually came up 106 runs short, Gibson top scored with 28 not out with 2 wickets each for Haire, Robertson and Martin.
So the semi final line up for Thursday’s draw is Lisburn, Waringstown, Instonians and North Down.
COURTESY DOWN DEMOCRAT