CIYMS crowned their meteoric rise through the NCU divisions by winning the Ulster Bank Premier League title for the first time at Belmont yesterday.
A third-tier club as recently as 2005, CI beat reigning champions North Down by seven wickets in a thrilling season’s finale to secure the title outright, in the process dashing Instonians’ hopes of sharing the trophy.
Inst had drawn level on points with the leaders after beating Civil Service North on Saturday, but despite being without Jeremy Bray and Peter Connell, CI produced a superb display to chase down a target of 126 in a Twenty20 game with nine balls to spare.
STEPHEN Hughes the CI skipper admitted he never thought he would play in a CIYMS team that lifted the NCU Premier League title.
The 37-year-old, who has come through the divisions with the Belmont club, held the famous trophy aloft yesterday as CI won the title just five years after winning promotion to the top flight for the first time.
“Coming from where we have as a junior club, and some people still see us as a junior club, we have played in a couple of cup finals and had some success over the years, but to win the Premier League, and in the first year as eight-team league which is a lot more competitive, is a wonderful feeling,” said Hughes. “I’m so proud of the guys. To go unbeaten away from home all season was the key.”
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