CIYMS rounded off the most successful year in the club’s history as they retained the Robinson Services Premier League title after a thrilling tie against Instonians at Shaws Bridge yesterday.
Already with the Gallagher Challenge Cup, Lagan Valley Steels Twenty20 Cup and their first ever All-Ireland T20 crown in the trophy cabinet, Nigel Jones’ men added a fourth piece of silverware to cement a special campaign.
The Belmont side entered the season as massive favourites to retain the title they won 12 months ago, but it is another thing to deliver upon the potential and CIYMS certainly did that in 2019.
After only failing to lift that elusive Irish Senior Cup – where they were knocked out in the semi-final by Waringstown off the final ball – captain Jones reflected on a monumental effort from his squad after they reached 192 in 20 overs against Instonians this weekend to wrap it up.
“It’s been a very special season,” he said.
“At the start of the year we talked about it and didn’t hide behind the fact we wanted to win trophies.
“We spoke about three out of the five and certainly felt we were capable of four. Five would have been special and it’s very hard to do that.
“Four out of five is incredible and a lot of guys have contributed to that which is great.”
The fact that so many contributed this season will have been the most pleasing thing for Jones; James Cameron-Dow’s 47 wickets is the most by a non-overseas professional in more than a decade, Jacob Mulder was just behind him with 46 and both opening batsmen Chris Dougherty and John Matchett passed 800 runs.
Add to that special innings from Jason van der Merwe, cameo appearances from Mark Adair and the impact of overseas professional Obus Pienaar, it was a winning formula.
“We have had guys chipping in every match,” added Jones. “Jacob with the ball, Jason has played some fantastic knocks, Allen Coulter when he has been fit has been fantastic.
“Young Zac Solomon and Carson McCullough came in and were on the team sheet most weeks so it was great to have that continuity.”
CIYMS had already played three matches this weekend before arriving at Shaws Bridge after beating Lisburn on Friday night, losing to Instonians on Saturday and beating North Down by five runs on Sunday morning – a result that all but sealed their fate as champions.
It was a big effort to get two points against Instonians after Shane Getkate’s blistering century set them a target of 193 to win, but 72 from Matchett helped them do just enough to wrap up the league title albeit not the match.
“Getting a win in a tight match against North Down this morning probably meant we could relax a bit,” said Jones.
“Playing on the mat is never easy. We played in rain for 50% of the match and conditions were tough.
“Chasing 192 was always going to be difficult but credit to the boys for getting a tie; we will take that as a win because it seals the league.
“The boys are delighted and fair play to them.”
This is Jones’ second career Premier League title and the challenge will always be to go again for another one.
Set to have a strong outfit again in 2020 but like is standard procedure, he will only be focusing on one game at a time.
“It’s a tough ask and winning three in a row would be a big effort,” he added.
“For us, we are going to be in a situation where we have a strong team again and we have to just take it game by game and see where we end up.”