Instonians’ love affair with the ClubTurf Ulster Cup continued yesterday when they won the competition for a fourth time.
A devastating 30 overs either side of the tea interval gave the Shaw’s Bridge side a four wicket victory over NCU league and cup holders North Down at The Lawn.
North Down collapsed from 70 for three in the 22nd over to be bowled out for 121 with more than three overs unused and 15 overs later the trophy was heading back to Belfast with Instonians on 81 for one.
Four wickets in five overs for the addition of just seven runs put North Down back in contention and the runs came at a snail’s pace for the next few overs.
Three fours in quick succession by Neil Hamilton, however, lifted the shackles and although Taimur Khan got his wicket with 11 still required, the man-of-the-match was still at the other end.
Rory McCann, who headed straight to airport last night to join up with the Ireland Development Squad for their three-day game against Sussex II starting today, was the immovable object while wickets fell at the other end.
The opening batsman followed up a tidy display behind the stumps, with an undefeated 45 to see Instonians to victory with more than 10 overs to spare.
North Down were without Alistair Shields who is in the Ireland under-19 side which plays three one-day games in Jersey, starting today, but with a late flight to Gatwick, Instonians were able to field all three Development Squad players — McCann, James Shannon and Ben Wylie.
For Wylie, yesterday was a personal triumph as the schoolboy had borne the brunt of Taimur Khan’s onslaught in the league game between the teams at The Green on Saturday. Figures of nought for 59 from five overs, as the Pakistani went berserk with 121 not out in North Down’s seven wickets triumph, were transformed into three for 25 from eight overs with the wicket of Khan, caught behind by McCann, the sweetest of the lot.
The other two were important scalps as well with the Neil Russell pulling his loosener straight to Moleon at mid-wicket and three overs later the Ryan Haire also drove to the Instonians skipper.
Nathan Burns — Shields’ replacement — top scored with 23, but Rory Sheard again proved a valuable ‘death’ bowler for Instonians and bowling the last four overs he finished with two for 10.
Instonians knew a good start would all but seal the final and John Stevenson with 26, including five fours and then James Shannon (24 off 22) with four boundaries ensured that, seeing professional Ian Moran out of the attack after just two overs.
It was the Australian who returned to the attack to halt Shannon in his stride and followed up with the wickets of Wylie and Moleon in his next two overs (to finish with three for 34) but that burst of wickets proved the only excitement of the day.