Adam Dennison hit a record-breaking 145 not out to secure Waringstown’s first Gallaghers NCU Challenge Cup triumph since 2013 with a six-wicket win over CSNI at Comber last night.
The 21-year-old played one of the great cup final innings, surpassing the 137 made by his father David in Waringstown’s 1983 final victory over Lurgan and breaking the record for the highest individual score in a one-day Challenge Cup final - the unbeaten 139 made by CSNI’s Marc Ellison just hours prior.
On a day when records tumbled, the villagers produced what is believed to be the highest run chase in Challenge Cup history as they passed the Stormont side’s 285 for four with 27 balls to spare.
Waringstown captain Greg Thompson had bravely chosen to win the toss and bowl and the game was very much in the balance at halfway on a brilliant batting track at The Green.
CSNI, who should have passed 300, removed James Hall cheaply, but with Graeme McCarter leaving the field because of illness after bowling just an over, their bowling attack looked short of firepower in the face of an onslaught from Dennison and James McCollum.
McCollum raced to 50 from just 42 balls, and Dennison, who is fast closing in on 1,000 runs for the campaign, followed shortly after. At 156 for one in the 27th over, and with the second-wicket pair having added 142, Waringstown looked in total command.
But Ben Adair made the breakthrough, McCollum trapped lbw for 73 from 77 balls, including 11 fours, and CSNI were right back in it when Lee Nelson departed first ball to Morgan Topping.
With the asking rate now above a run-a-ball, the final was delicately poised, and when professional Shaheen Khan presented Adair with a return catch, CSNI were a couple of wickets away from taking charge.
But Dennison wasn’t to be denied, the opener reaching three figures from 110 balls, his second three-figure score in the space of six days.
He continued to motor alongside captain Thompson, and the pair galloped home, an unbeaten 95-run stand in just 61 balls.
Dennison’s 145 from 130 balls contained 12 fours and seven sixes and ultimately overshadowed Ellison’s outstanding innings earlier in the day.
When the New Zealand-born right-hander and professional Andre Malan, who reached 50 in just 35 balls, helped CSNI to race to 114 for one inside 20 overs, CSNI were cruising and would have been confident of reaching 300 from the platform they set.
However, disaster struck when Malan was smartly caught by wicketkeeper Marcus McClean as he attempted a reverse sweep off Nelson on 52, and when Aaron Wright followed for one, they were stalling on 116 for three.
Captain James Kennedy strode to the crease to bat in his first Challenge Cup final, and was a steady partner for Ellison.
The pair reached the 200 mark before Kennedy was caught trying to up the run-rate for 37, and from that point on it was the Ellison show.
The New Zealander brought up his 100 from 126 balls, his unbeaten 139 including 10 fours and seven sixes.
It was a great display of powerful batting and also great control, with Ellison taking command when Malan was dismissed.
Topping added late runs, but CSNI’s 285 for four was perhaps 30 short of where they would have liked to be. Nelson was the star bowler for Waringstown, picking up three wickets for 43 runs from his 10 overs.
It was a fantastic final played in a great spirit, with some brilliant batting on show, but 2018 will forever be known as the Adam Dennison final.