20 August 2008

Shortly after 6 o’clock on Friday evening Nigel Jones captain of Civil Service North (CSN) lifted aloft the TCH Down Democrat Challenge Cup on the balcony of Downpatrick Cricket Club ending a nine-year barren spell for the club.

CSNI's Nigel Jones with the TCH Down Democrat Challenge Cup and his Man of the Match award is flanked by on left Ian Gourley, President of the Northern Cricket Union and Kieran Moloney, CEO TCH Democrat Media (C) John Boomer CricketEurope

This was the club’s 36th appearance in the final and the 21st time they had won the trophy.  All their previous victories had been under their previous existence as North of Ireland prior to the amalgamation with Civil Service and ushers in a new era for the club now based at Stormont.

It would be wrong not to begin by paying tribute to the Downpatrick club who hosted the event.  On Tuesday evening an emergency meeting of the Northern Cricket Union came close to postponing the showpiece final due to the condition of the ground and the forecast weather conditions.

The ground survived two inspections on Wednesday and Thursday morning as the ground staff marshalled by Ivan Reid put in a Herculean effort by working virtually round the clock in the 72 hours leading up to the scheduled start.  Prior to the trophy presentation, Kieran Moloney, CEO of the sponsors, Down Democrat and the large crowd who had just witnessed a pulsating game acknowledged their efforts.

This was a game that just when it seemed that one side was about to take the decisive advantage the other somehow clawed their way back into it.  If the old adage that catches win matches is to be believed then certainly CSN were value for the win.

The men from Stormont held onto four that would have graced any game at any level but paradoxically could have been made to pay for a glaring drop by Michael Heaney at point when James Hall was on 16.

Waringstown appeared to have the ascendancy when after dismissing CSN for 150, when despite the loss of Lee Nelson LBW to Jones with the score on 5, Hall and Irish international Kyle McCallan added 34 for the second wicket.

Wayne Horwood, who earlier had been dismissed for a duck, dropped one short and McCallan who was on 19 and looking in complete control mistimed a pull shot; Jones diving forward at mid on took the catch.

When McCallan departs early in the game it is often referred to as a defining moment such is his presence in the side, but for many the real moment when destiny intervened in favour of CSN came at 52 for 2.

James Hall who looked at though he was about to put his stamp on another cup final had just brought up the Waringstown 50 hitting John Costain down the ground for six, when he attempted to repeat the shot off Horwood.  Corin Goodall on as a substitute fielder for the injured Jones sprinted 20 yards to his left and dived full length stuck out his left hand and held the finest one handed catch you are ever likely to see.

From there Regan West took control with his left arm spin as on the drying wicket he seemed almost to be able to make the ball talk.  52 for 2 became 83 for 7, as the TCH Challenge Cup seemed to be well on the way to Stormont without Waringstown even putting up a fight.

West had Simon Harrison caught off a top edge again superbly by Jones running backwards and Johnny Bushe did not even look for the umpire’s finger as Charlie Beverland snapped up the chance at short leg.

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