CIYMS skipper Nigel Jones ready for Carrickfergus clash

Nigel Jones

Nigel Jones

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Most neutrals hoped that the draw for the semi-finals of the Arthur J Gallagher Challenge Cup kept holders CIYMS and team of the season thus far Waringstown apart.

Well, the balls came out the right way and CIYMS face Carrickfergus on Saturday at Belmont.

Having said that, CI cannot be going in with massive degrees of confidence given recent form, which sees them joint bottom of the Premier League with only one win, a point that captain Nigel Jones agrees with.

“It has been an up and down season and honestly I am not that surprised. Yes we have a core group of hired guns as people will call us but we have a number of young guys still trying to find their feet.

“In simple terms if the big names don’t perform or we get a couple of decent balls and we are out this just increases the pressure on the young fellas and it is a vicious circle.

“So yes the core group need to stand up and be counted. We have not had the best of luck with injuries and holidays etc. I’m sure no-one feels any sympathy for us mind you.

“It’s semi-final weekend and we are close to full strength again.

“Zache Rushe plays, Stephen Chambers should be fit and we will have Jos McConkey in the side.

“We are the cup holders and we certainly want to be back in the final again.

“I didn’t really think we had the depth to maintain a season long challenge but we have more than enough good players to make a statement. For me the league is basically a one horse race but we can have a say in who wins or at least challenges for it.

“Carrickfergus have more depth these days, we will hope to keep Jamie Holmes and Pat Botha quiet.

“Eagy’s enjoying a new lease of life he is loving being top of the wickets chart, I go back to playing against him in my days with Cooke/Collegians.

“In some ways we have a similar story, the older head with a bunch of young blokes around us and I have to say I’m certainly enjoying that focus and taking responsibility.”

Perhaps surprisingly given the decent start to the season enjoyed by Carrickfergus, his opposite number Iain Parkhill is equally as frustrated.

“We still have not really clicked as a unit, there has been no week when all three facets of the game have come together, Saturday would be a good time to start. Look we are happy to go enjoy our cricket, put the pink kit on and have a bit of fun.

“The previous game against CI holds no real relevance, anyone can get a first ball in this game.

“Simply we are a group of guys who play for each other and care a lot about the club.

“On paper CI should wipe the floor with us if they perform, take a look, Nigel Jones, Kempy, Chris Doc and Big JT, on a good day they will beat anyone but we are hoping it is an off day.

“If we won without a doubt it will be the biggest day in the club’s history, we have targeted winning silverware in the next 5 years. We are in a semi-final so we have a 50/50 chance of getting there.”

And what about the old warhorse Ryan Eagleson?

“He is like my right arm, I totally value his opinion. If he was allowed to bowl every over he would, the appetite is as great as ever.

“It was great at Waringstown on Saturday to see both Eagy and Kyle McCallan, still totally competitive.

“ It is quite simple around here if Eagy speaks everybody listens.”