Cricket: Instonians stay in mix for title
Instonians have kept the pressure on Ulster Bank Premier League leaders CIYMS after recording a five wickets victory over an under-strength Ballymena at Shaw's Bridge.
Andrew White signed off his club season with 51 as Instonians passed the visitors’ total of 114 with 17 balls to spare.
The Ballymena innings was dominated by Steve Lazars who scored 79 with five sixes and seven fours before he was dismissed 10 balls before the end.
The win moves Instonians within four points (one win) of CIYMS. Each side has one game remaining, Instonians at home to Civil Service North on Saturday and CI at home to North Down in a 20 overs match the following day.
On the day that White and most of the Ireland squad leave for Sri Lanka, ahead of the World Twenty20 which starts on September 19, the Ireland A team play their last match of the season, in Sussex.
Captained by the in-form James Shannon, who has won five senior caps since his last A-team appearance, the team includes three other capped players, Andrew Balbirnie, Phil Eaglestone and Stuart Poynter.
There are two players getting their first experience at this level, Donemana opening batsman Ryan Hunter, who has just returned from the under-19 World Cup finals in Australia and the big surprise in the 12-man selection, Merrion leg spinner Alex O’Brien.
National coach Phil Simmons admits he is taking a “hunch” with the 18-year-old’s selection because he is was not even in the squad for Saturday’s Irish Cup final and indeed has played only one senior match this season, bowling one over for nine runs. His last game was for Merrion II when he also bowled one over, conceding 24 runs.
O’Brien has starred for Leinster Schools, which is where the coach first saw him and he then invited him to bowl in the senior nets during the winter, but it is a major step up to face a county 2nd XI and it promises to be a significant test.
More will be expected of Chris Dougherty, scorer of three successive centuries for CIYMS last month, while Waringstown batsman Lee Nelson and Brigade all-rounder Johnny Thompson also get another chance to impress at this level. Scott Campbell and Shane Getkate are the other under-19 World Cup players involved over the next three days.
Ireland A: J Shannon (capt), B Ackland, A Balbirnie, S Campbell, C Dougherty, P Eaglestone, S Getkate, R Hunter, L Nelson, A O’Brien, S Poynter, J Thompson.
Ulster Bank Premier League At Shaw’s Bridge, Ballymena 114 (20 overs, S Lazars 79; E Moleon 3-7, A White 3-19) Instonians 116-5 (17.1 overs, A White 51, Z Rushe 20; S Lazars 2-19). Instonians won by 5 wickets.