From a personal perspective Saturday’s big two games were very much a tale of what might have been and from an Instonians perspective it showed just what sort of battlers they have become.
Firstly though let’s look at what happened at Belmont; CSNI batted and it was fairly turgid cricket to begin with.
CIYMS captain Nigel Jones bowled his full quota rendering the batsmen almost runless whilst picking up the wickets of Mansoor Amjad and Arnie Wright, both caught behind by Chris Dougherty.
James Kennedy who had opening for CSNI had weathered the storm and was beginning to play his shots and things were starting to look a bit brighter for his side after a slow start.
CSNI were 105 -3 after 35 overs, then with the hard work done; seemingly caught in two minds he hit Matt McGillivray to Ryan Hunter.
He made 67 with 7 fours and a six, but what if he had gone for stick instead of bust?
As he was dismissed, NCU President Peter McMorran and yours truly set off on a gentle lap of the ground.
Just as we completed it his beloved CSNI were all out for 125, the last six wickets falling in 29 balls - which was an awful return
Yes, perhaps they needed to up the run rate and McGillivray did bowl a decent spell picking up 4 for 38.
But this was lemming-like; a headlong dash over the cliff as a series of injudicious shots, left their Arthur J Gallagher defence in tatters with five plus overs unused.
Skipper Graeme McCarter, as whole hearted as they come certainly left nothing in the dressing room as he tore in, seeking to defy the odds.
He took 3-33, but the cause was not helped by three dropped catches and Matt McGillivray (17 off 6 balls) finished it with a huge six off Alan Blain and the job was well and truely done.
Arriving at Shaw’s Bridge the scoreboard showed 23 overs gone and North Down 103-2 apparently crusing chasing a total of 227 for victory.
The Instonians supporters were a pretty sombre lot and rightly so.
The in form Ruhan Pretorius and Ally Shields pressed on to 130.
Then when the former was caught by James Shannon off Instonians captain, Nikolai Smith.
Next over Shields with 60 from 69 balls was clean bowled by Nathan Smith and from there it was Peter Eakin against Instonians.
The 45th over was pure theatre, Rob McKinley’s first five balls went for 15 as Eakin unleashed, bringing up 200, the 6th McKinley’s revenge fast and straight the stumps splayed.
A magnificent cameo of 46 off 41 balls.
Earlier Nikolai Smith made 86 with seven fours and the unfortunate Stephen Bunting (32 off 25 balls) who was to dislocate his shoulder fielding, added late order impetus.
Smith’s runs combined with his two wickets secured the Arthur J Gallagher MOM award.