Instonians spoil CIYMS's party plans
Alistair Bushe (Newsletter)
The Ulster Bank Premier League trophy was at Belmont yesterday but, wisely as it turned out, the NCU kept it safely under lock and key.
This was the day when CIYMS were supposed to be anointed NCU senior champions for the first time, when captain Stephen Hughes was meant to hold the trophy aloft on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon.
Instead Instonians, the one team still with a chance of sharing the trophy with CI, spoiled the party, and how.
The Challenge Cup winners didnít just beat CI, they annihilated them. A crushing nine-wicket victory means Eugene Moleonís team can still finish level with CI. First they must beat a weakened Ballymena team at Shawís Bridge tonight in a rearranged Twenty20 game and their final game is against Civil Service North on Saturday.
The third part of the equation is out of Instoniansí hands. They also need deposed champions North Down to beat CIYMS in a Twenty20 game next Sunday, though that is far from unlikely if, as seems certain, Jeremy Bray is unavailable because of his commitments with the Ireland Ladies team.
There is a school of thought that Instonians are the divisionís best drilled outfit and this performance will strengthen those suspicions as CI were bowled out for just 116.
Initially, there was no sign of the CI collapse to come as Chris Dougherty and Barry Cooper made serene progress to 38 without loss after Hughes won the toss and batted. Dougherty cut and pulled with aplomb against the Instonians seamers and Cooperís dismissal to Moleon came completely out of the blue.
But the game swung dramatically on Doughertyís departure. Andrew Whiteís first ball to the Ireland A left-hander spun extravagantly past the outside edge and Dougherty unwisely attempted a reverse sweep off the second and an edge was taken brilliantly one-handed by James Shannon just off the ground at slip.
Instonians were unusually slack in the field as Bray and then PJ Moor were both missed but the latter didnít add a run as he was taken on the deep mid-wicket boundary off White.
At 51 for three, CI's hopes effectively hinged on Bray and Taimur Khan, just as they had a day before against Lisburn, but this time there were no heroics from Bray.
They were baffled by Farooq Iqbal, who conceded just 11 in his 10 overs, and latterly part-timer James Shannon (4-19), who wrapped up the tail by dismissing Peter Connell, Hughes and last man Stephen McChesney in successive balls for a hat-trick.
In truth, this was a pitch that suited Inst far more than CIYMS, whose big weakness is their lack of top quality spinners. Connell was afforded just one over and Taimur three as John Stevenson and Richard McCarthy made batting look easy in a 73-run opening stand.
The bowling was mediocre at best and though McCarthy fell for 28, the end came in a hurry. Stevenson and James Shannon combined to hit three sixes in a single Craig Boultwood over and Shannon struck the winning maximum in just the 24th over as he launched Moor onto the hockey pitch.
The Ireland international took just 13 balls over his unbeaten 28 while Stevensonís 58 from 70 balls included five fours and a six.
There was one other game yesterday with Waringstown thrashing Carrickfergus by 10 wickets at The Lawn to end their four-game losing streak. Glen Addicott, the South African professional, signed off his season with an unbeaten 94 from only 39 balls that included five fours and 10 sixes. Waringstown passed a target of 131 with more than seven overs to spare. Earlier Michael Taiaroa top scored with 57 not out from 46 balls in a Carrick total of 130 for three.