James Shannon has ruled himself out of Instonians' massive triple header this weekend as they bid to retain the Ulster Bank Premier League title.
The joint defending champions play a 20 overs match against North Down at Shaw's Bridge this evening and then back-to-back games against the only team above them, Waringstown. They must win all three to guarantee themselves a share of the title and that would leave them with a game at Wallace Park to win the league outright for only the second time in their history.
Shannon may not have enjoyed the most prolific of seasons, and has lost his place in the Ireland squad, but he could still be a match winner on his day.
However, he left Eglinton yesterday, after the Northern Knights' 44-runs defeat to the North West Warriors, on crutches and although an x-ray revealed only bad bruising just below his left knee his chances of playing this weekend were minimal.
His loss to the Knights this week was not as serious as it could have been because his Instonians team-mate Nicolai Smith came in and finished as top scorer in the second innings. But, in the end, there were just too many cry-offs from the NCU side – a ridiculous 13 in all – which handed the Warriors their first three-day victory at the eighth attempt.
Resuming at 152 for five yesterday morning, overnight batsman James McCollum and nightwatchman James Cameron-Dow frustrated the Warriors bowlers for 12 overs before Andy McBrine found the edge of McCollum's bat and Stuart Thompson held a fine catch at slip, diving forward.
McCollum followed in the Warriors' skipper's next over, caught at short cover and when Adam Dennison, another of three Knights' debutants, played a poor shot to give McBrine his third wicket in 10 balls, and five for the innings, the visitors were 191 for eight, still 78 short of victory.
Shane Getkate and Neil Gill put on 32 in 13 overs and forced McBrine to take the new ball. Getkate helped himself to two fours off Jared Barnes but the Coleraine bowler got his man in the next over and when last man Zach Rushe was caught at third slip off Craig Young, it was all over, just 92 minutes into the final day.
The Championship trophy was not at stake and some of the cricket in this match summed up why Leinster Lightning had already won it two weeks ago, but it is another big boost for North West cricket, already crowned Twenty20 champions this season, even if they were playing against vastly under-strength opposition.
There are only two other games in the Premier League tomorrow as the clash at Stormont, between Civil Service North and CIYMS has been postponed, following the death of a CI member.
North Down, realistically in a race for third place after a poor season, also have a triple header with games at Lisburn tomorrow and CSN on Sunday.
All eyes though are on Lee Nelson's Waringstown, just one win away from winning the Premier League title outright for the first time since 2000; their 2006 triumph was won in the committee room after North Down finished top but were deducted points over Peter Connell's registration.
O'Neill Newstalk inter-provincial: North West Warriors 137 (46 overs, G McClintock 57; A White 3-31, J Cameron-Dow 3-49) and 250 (75.1 overs, J Thompson 53, S Thompson 50, RL Dougherty 50, A McBrine 32; J Cameron-Dow 7-107) Northern Knights 119 (50.5 overs, C Dougherty 37) and 224 (88.1 overs, N Smith 46, J Terrett 36, J McCollum 35, N Larkin 28, S Getkate 23; A McBrine 5-52, E Kemm 2-59). Warriors win by 44 runs.
Weekend fixtures. Today: Ulster Bank Premier League: Instonians v North Down (5pm). Tomorrow (12.00noon): Ballymena v Muckamore, Instonians v Waringstown (11am), Lisburn v North Down. Sunday: Civil Service North v North Down, Waringstown v Instonians. Section One: Derriaghy v Templepatrick, Downpatrick v Carrickfergus, Dundrum v Cliftonville, Lurgan v Bangor, Woodvale v Holywood. Sunday: Dundrum v Woodvale, Templepatrick v Holywood.
Section Two: Today (5.30pm): Donacloney v Drumaness (T20). Tomorrow: Donacloney v Millpark, Drumaness v Laurelvale, Saintfield v Cooke Collegians, Victoria v Armagh. Sunday: Academy v BISC (T20), Laurelvale v Drumaness.
Long's SuperValu Premiership (12.00 noon): Ardmore v Strabane, Brigade v Donemana, Coleraine v Bready, Fox Lodge v Eglinton. Sunday: Bready v Fox Lodge, Brigade v Coleraine, Eglinton v Ardmore, Strabane v Donemana
Sam Jeffrey Final: Drummond v St Johnston (Eglinton)
Sunday: Ulster Shield final (12.00 noon): Carrickfergus v Downpatrick (Middle Road)