Waringstown skipper Greg Thompson wants to get his hands on Gallagher Challenge Cup
The last time Waringstown reached a Challenge Cup final was in 2014, with Greg Thompson, who won the competition in his first year with the club 12 months prior, on honeymoon and missing the showpiece event.
Now, four years on, he is back in the final and will captain the side against CSNI at The Green in Comber on Friday.
Waringstown have won two Premier League’s and been in three Irish Senior Cup finals, winning two, since they were last at this stage of the Challenge Cup, and Thompson says it was one his side really targeted this season.
“The first final came very quickly,” said Thompson.
“I joined Waringstown in 2013 and was in the Challenge Cup final that year, and we beat Instonians.
“Next year I was on honeymoon and it was played in August, which was probably the first time it had been played in August in a long time. “It has been the one trophy and even the one final that has eluded us for a number of years. Just to get to the final was a real target of ours, and to go one further and win it would put the icing on the cake for us.”
Opening batsman Adam Dennison scored 105 in Sunday’s Irish Cup quarter-final win over Pembroke to bring his tally to 804 runs for the season - the highest of any player in the NCU’s top flight.
James Hall lies only six runs behind, and after hitting 175 on Sunday, Thompson says the opening duo compliment each other perfectly.
“They’ve played that role now for the best part of two years.
“There is a good understanding there and they compliment each other well.
“Where Adam’s strength lies, maybe James’ is in another area, so in that way they compliment each other and they can be difficult to bowl at.
“The good thing is that if it’s not Adam’s day to get off to a flying start, often it will be James’.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if we get off to two good starts and both of them are leading the way on Friday and Sunday.
“It’s a real bonus that the pressure isn’t always on James or Adam to be the person to get us off to a flier - often that changes week to week.”
It isn’t just those two who have been in fine form, with the likes of Shaheen Khan, Gary Kidd, Phil Eaglestone and Lee Nelson all putting in match-winning performances.
Thompson says the quality of his side makes his job a lot easier.
“Whether it’s with the bat or ball, you look down the list and you have confidence.
“James McCollum got 170 for the Wolves, Lee Nelson got fifty against Armagh two weeks ago, Shaheen Khan is climbing the run charts and I’ve chipped in when necessary.
“Marcus McClean got important runs against CIYMS in the semi-final, so it’s a competition he has had success in already this season.”
CSNI suffered their first white ball 50-over loss of the season against Clontarf on Sunday, but Thompson is well aware of the threat posed by the Stormont side.
“They have proven they are a good team and have continued to add quality players to their line-up.
“They have Aaron Wright and Morgan Topping who spent a lot of time with us.
“They now have a quality pro in Andre Malan and Marc Ellison arrived last year but he has settled into the team this year, is involved in the Knights and got off to a blistering start to the season.
“They probably look at it that their cup form isn’t surprising, but their league form. They could probably be further up the league table than they are, but that’ll come whether it’s this year or next.
“They are a team we enjoy playing against. It’s always played in great spirit and is competitive, and we have had a couple of great matches against them this year.
“We came out on top in the first Twemty20, and they beat us well in the first one.”
Waringstown also face a Twenty20 Cup final against North Down at The Lawn on Sunday.