Not many upsets were forecasted in Saturday’s Arthur J Gallagher Challenge Cup but two Section One sides certainly upset the odds.
As the first round games unfolded, the real excitement was building at Downpatrick and Muckamore.
Many have debated the relative strengths of the sides that come up to the Premier League, and how it is almost impossible for them to compete on a level playing field, but it was great to see that giant-killing is still well and truly alive.
Pride of place has to go to the men from Moylena where Muckamore in the end cruised to a comfortable seven-wicket win against an Instonian side who boasted wins against Clontarf and Waringstown in the previous seven days.
Muckamore captain Neil Gill described his side’s win as “just the perfect day”.
He added: “What a day, excellent weather and a great crowd cheering us on all afternoon.
“Good toss to win and when Gary Nicholl made a couple of breakthroughs it was Andrew White and James Shannon in the middle.
“For me the real turning point was when Andrew was run out, he played the ball out to Aditya Adey at deep cover and set off for two, a superb throw and suddenly we had them five down for 115, then 132-7.
“In our league that usual signifies curtains but Instonians recovered to make 197 but realistically if you offered me that at the start I would have taken it.
“I then decided to change the order round a bit and opened with Sam Gordon and Craig Drummond and they saw off the new ball. Avadhoot Dandekar and Jamie Magowan then put on 121 for the third wicket and Ryan Haire saw us home.
“Avadhoot has been exceptional the last couple of weeks an unbeaten ton against Eglinton and 96 off 95 balls on Saturday – I don’t think he has given a chance in either innings.
“With Jamie, nothing fazes him, the guys where hitting the gaps and running well between the wickets, you could not have written the script. It would be great to have a cup run but the league is our target for the rest of the season, we want to be playing games like this every week.”
Meanwhile, at The Meadow it was a similar story with North Down put to the sword by Downpatrick.
And an equally delighted skipper Craig Boultwood hailed his side.
“After an early wicket for Paul Tate, Jacob Mulder and Pieter Malan had a good partnership, Malan is a class above anything that we see week in week out and I really thought they were looking good for 300 at one stage,” he said.
“When Thomas Magowan got Mulder, then Ally Shields and Peter Eakin went cheaply we managed to get some control and Amit Patil picked up 3-33.
“Nathan Burns hit a pretty rapid 62 and his running between the wickets with Peter Shields put the fielders under pressure.
“240 was probably about par, but 111 was the highest we have had to chase so far, however we bat pretty deep. At 70-2 I joined Amit and basically we just accumulated ones and twos to begin, once he passed 50 he began to accelerate.
“I am delighted for Amit to get his ton it is the first he has scored at home.”
Boultwood’s 67 contained 10 boundaries and Patil hit eight fours and three sixes in his unbeaten 102.
Maybe the most remarkable fact was that Downpatrick were missing both their opening bowlers.
Doubtless both teams will be hoping that the draw is kind to them and they are rewarded with home ties, after this you would suspect none of the remaining six Premier League teams will take anything for granted.