CIYMS and North Down secure Challenge Cup final spots

CIYMS and North Down will meet in the Gallagher Challenge Cup final after both teams won their respective semi-finals yesterday.

Monday, 2nd August 2021, 10:00 am

Defending champions CIYMS produced a convincing all-round performance against CSNI at Stormont to run out victors by a wide margin of 142 runs, while North Down beat Instonians.

A real team effort with the bat that included contributions from captain Nigel Jones (55*), Chris Dougherty (47) and Jason van der Merwe (45) pushed CI up to 260-6 and they had CSNI in early trouble through Mark Adair and Allen Coulter.

Adair (4-23) – who was returning from Ireland duty – showed his class with the ball by finishing with four wickets, while Graham Kennedy also picked up 4-34 after earlier scoring 30 with the bat.

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CIYMS captain Nigel Jones (right) celebrating during the weekend. Pic by Pacemaker.

The two teams had met in the Premier League on Saturday when CSNI eased to victory, but the return of Adair helped turn the tables 24 hours later.

It marks CI’s fifth final in six seasons as they continue to dominate the local game and Jones was understandably delighted with his side’s showing.

“After yesterday and playing in the league we talked about it last night and said we hadn’t put our best foot forward,” he said. “The couple of boys coming back in made a difference with the ball and we had a lot of firepower today.

“We didn’t play our best cricket yesterday but the Challenge Cup is a really big one for this team and it’s a competition we tend to grow an extra arm and leg for.

“It was no different today and I thought 260 was a really good score considering we were put into bat.

“We needed to get a score after being inserted and we did that.

“I think today we avoided those bad balls which we spoke about and let the pitch do the work.

“Full credit to the bowlers for doing a great job.”

Having been asked to bat after losing the toss, CIYMS were able to build partnerships throughout their innings – four were worth 45 or more – and that proved crucial to their success.

It looked like they would score even more than the 260 they managed at one stage but Jones was still confident with the total.

“There was one point early in the innings where I thought 275 would be a good score but when we got out there and batted we pulled that back a bit,” he added. “We would certainly have taken 260 at the start after being inserted and with the way the pitch played.

“There was a bit of nibble throughout and the spinners were able to skid it on a bit.

“It was never going to be an easy total to chase if we bowled well and that’s what we did.”

Jones had a weekend to remember against his former side after scoring 84 in the league fixture before another unbeaten half-century in the cup.

The 39-year-old remains one of the best performers in the NCU’s top-flight and will want to have another big say in the final on August 13.

“It’s always nice to contribute,” he said. “It’s a pity about yesterday but I will take that today.

“I think it gave us that nudge there at the end and being able to put a score like that on the board is always a difficult one.”

Adair was named ‘Man-of-the-Match’ for his efforts – which also included a score of 29, while Kennedy would have been a worthy winner of the award too.

“His (Adair’s) tail was up today and you could tell he was really up for the game,” added Jones. “The track suited him and with the ball he really executed well.

“Graham’s a quality cricketer and I think he shows that a lot for us.

“He adds a lot to the team.”

North Down – the competition’s most successful team - are into their first final since 2012 and it’s set to be a cracking encounter on their home patch.

CIYMS will have their sights set on a fourth title in that six-season stint and Jones is looking forward to it.

“It’ll be a good one,” he said. “We played them recently in the league and didn’t play our best then, but credit to them for that.

“We looked at it recently and with all our boys back we are confident of turning up in the final.”