Holders CIYMS facing stern test from CSNI in NCU Challenge Cup final

CSNI captain Andrew Cowden (second left) and his
CIYMS counterpart, Nigel Jones, with the managing director of AJG, Shane Matthews, and the president of the Northern Cricket Union, Peter McMorran

CSNI captain Andrew Cowden (second left) and his CIYMS counterpart, Nigel Jones, with the managing director of AJG, Shane Matthews, and the president of the Northern Cricket Union, Peter McMorran

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Twelve months ago David Robinson could only have dreamt that he would play in Friday’s showpiece 120 th final of the NCU Challenge Cup sponsored by Arthur J Gallagher.

The game throws holders CIYMS against 2014 victors CSNI.

Much will be made of captain Nigel Jones seeking to win a third successive final alongside the return of Irish international, now coach at CIYMS, Derek Heasley.

CI have their critics and doubtless will continue to do so but for a few moments, forget the big names in both teams.

Last season 17-year-old Robinson played an integral role in ensuring CIYMS third eleven appeared in the Intermediate Cup final, this morning, such has been his progression he will find himself walking out onto the biggest stage in local cricket at Comber.

Having taken several big scalps this season around the club he is known as the ‘Pro-Killer’.

He will be joined by Jack Beattie and undoubtedly a third home-grown talent John Matchett would also have played had it not been for holiday commitments.

Such have been the changes at Belmont that only three of the 2015 winners start today, skipper Nigel Jones, Chris Dougherty and Johnny Thompson.

What a trio though, Jones and Thompson have scooped the Man of the Match awards in the run to the final, but ominously Dougherty has been strangely quiet.

Perhaps the watching public have not seen the best of professional Justin Kemp. I have, in the club’s only league win to date against Instonians.

At first it was watchful and supportive in partnership with Dougherty, then brutal as he savaged the Inst bowling leaving Thompson to complete the job with ball in hand.

Surely they also possess the best seam attack around, survive the opening salvo from Thompson and Kemp, then you have Jones and Allen Coulter winners with CSNI in 2014 to look forward to.

Zache Rushe will provide the slow bowling option.

So am I saying that all CI have to do is turn up – absolutely not. I am reminded of a comment Uel Graham once made to me: “paper teams, win paper cups!”.

CSNI demonstrated in their demolition of Waringstown in the semi-final they have the firepower to go the distance.

Good news for skipper Andrew Cowden, yesterday Cricket Ireland gave approval for Grahame McCarter to play but only as a batsman.

Shane Getkate also takes his place in the eleven, the man losing out, Paddy Park.

With McCarter unable to bowl and nagging doubts surrounding Getkate, CSMI have opted for the extra bowling cover in the shape of John Costain (ironically the man to lose out on a final place to Getkate in 2014) and Alan Blain.

It may be a transitional eleven at Stormont these days but they have continuity in that seven of their 13-man squad played in the 2014 game and two others; Jones and Coulter oppose them.

Pivotal in their road to the final has been professional Mansoor Amjad with both bat and ball.