Those who turned up at The Green for a rematch of the Challenge Cup final were greeted by the sensational news that Peter Shields, the North Down skipper, had stepped down.
Shields who has led the Comber outfit for all but one season since 2001 has been replaced for the remainder of this campaign by Ryan Haire. During Shields’ tenure North Down have won eight league titles and six Challenge Cups.
Speaking during the tea interval, Shields explained his reasons: “Firstly I would like to make it clear that this is not some sort of knee-jerk reaction to Friday’s defeat in the cup final.
“In my mind I had already reached this decision, but I spoke to coach Gavin Rodgers and Ryan (Haire) after the game.
“I run my own business and I am currently looking at expanding this with the potential of opening in a new larger outlet.
“It is a challenging economic time at the moment and this will need 100 per cent of my time.
“Equally to be captain of North Down requires 100 per cent dedication and I feel that I cannot do both. I have loved leading the side; will continue as a player and give full support to Ryan. I want this to be a smooth transition.
“Hopefully this is not the last time that I have the privilege of leading North Down, but time will tell on that front.”
Perhaps equally surprising was the fact that as Haire went out for the toss it was with Rory McCann; Instonians inspirational captain and main strike bowler Eugene Moleon was not playing for personal reasons.
On the field North Down did gain revenge for that Challenge Cup result, however it was more a case of stumbling across the line, rather than the emphatic victory it should have been.
Chasing 230 to win, they were well in charge at 150 for three off 30 overs with Haire and professional Guyan Wijekoon at the wicket, but when Haire on 70 hit a full toss from Zach Rushe high in the air to Instonians professional Iqbal, the home side lost all momentum.
Wijekoon made just 14 off 47 balls and it was only in the last
over that Andrew Haire hit the winning boundary. Instonians were the architects of their own downfall, conceding 27 wides.
Earlier, Jon Stevenson had made an accomplished 71 off 108 balls with 10 boundaries and once again James Shannon treated the crowd to some expansive stroke making with four sixes and four fours in his 56.
Waringstown racked up 297 for five against CSN at Stormont who saw off CSN by dismissing them for 112. Kyle McCallan took three wickets without conceding a run and Kris Lyness two for 15.
In Saturday’s action Ballymena recorded yet another victory with Robert McKinley taking the plaudits with four for 37 in the CSN innings of 171.
CIYMS beat Carrickfergus by five wickets thanks to Stephen Hughes taking six for 24.
The days other game was abandoned with Lisburn 177 for two against Waringstown, former Waringstown player Stephen Allen making 84.