For a team that had already won the Ulster Bank Premier League title before their final game on Sunday, CIYMS went out of their way to ensure a big finish.
Champions: CIYMS captain Stephen Hughes with the Ulster Bank |Premier League Trophy presseyeFOR a team that had already won the Ulster Bank Premier League title before their final game yesterday, CIYMS went out of their way to ensure a big finish.
Just six years after reaching the top flight, CI won the top prize in NCU cricket and, for the third year in a row, the championship was won at Belmont.
As winning captain Stephen Hughes admitted afterwards, it was was nice to be on the winning side this time.
North Down had celebrated the title with victory on the ground for each of the last two seasons and it was a particular pleasure for Hughes and his team-mates to have beaten the reigning champions to succeed them.
“It was a great performance,” he said. “We won the toss, which is what we wanted to do in the 20 overs match and anything under 140, we thought, was chasable.”
Their target was only 126 and, after an opening stand of 73 in 12 overs between Chris Dougherty and Barry Cooper, PJ Moor sealed the deal with three sixes in an unbeaten 36, off just 23 balls. The victory margin was seven wickets and they had nine balls to spare.
Dougherty, the Ireland A opening batsman, was not even supposed to be playing in the game, if Hughes’ pre-match comments were to be believed.
With the title won — a share of it with Instonians was guaranteed after the Shaw’s Bridge side beat Civil Service North by five wickets on Saturday — Hughes confessed he was “doing anything” to take the pressure of the team.
“Anything to take their minds off the game and keep them relaxed was ok by me,” said the captain.
Well, he was fooling no-one, least of all the Instonians players who turned up to watch the title snatched from their grasp.
“Instonians stuffed us the other week and I’m sure they’re disappointed they didn’t get a share because the weather cost them (they were involved in the only no-result in the division) but there were other games they lost,” added Hughes, who gave no clue how many of the Galacticos will be returning to defend the title next season.
Dougherty, who was the leading scorer with 630 runs, said he was keen to stay, but Taimur Khan has already been approached by three clubs, including North Down, the team he won nine league titles with since 1999.
Ireland have won their first match in Sri Lanka, ahead of the World Twenty20. In an extra warm-up fixture, against the Sinhalese Sports Club, Nigel Jones took three wickets, and Trent Johnston two as they restricted their hosts to 151 and Alex Cusack then hit 75, Andrew White 24 and Stuart Thompson was 22 not out when Ireland won by five wickets. Ireland played Sri Lanka A today.
Scores: At Belmont, CIYMS beat North Down by seven wickets.
North Down 125-6 (20 overs, P Shields 41 not out, A Haire 22 not out; S Hughes 2-15, R Adair 2-23) CIYMS 126-3 (18.3 overs, B Cooper 42, PJ Moor 36 not out, C Dougherty 30; A Shields 2-11).