Adam Dennison will become the youngest player in an NCU Ulster Bank Challenge Cup final when he lines out for Waringstown in tomorrow’s showdown against Civil Service North at Wallace Park (11am).
Dennison, the son of former Ireland international David, is only 14 years and two months and gets his chance because of the call-up of Josh Hall to the Ireland Under 19 squad and Gary Kidd’s decision to go on holiday. Waringstown captain Kyle McCallan, however, confirmed the selection committee had no hesitation in bringing him into the starting XI.
“He has done well whenever he has played this season and actually scored 15 not out against CSN and his partnership with Davy Dawson proved to be the match-winning one.
“We do not have huge expectations of him but he is a super fielder and hasn’t done anything wrong for us. It will be a great experience for him and I hope he enjoys it,” said McCallan.
The other notable absentee from the Waringstown line-up is, of course, Obus Pienaar, now strutting his stuff with the South Africa Emerging side in Australia — he scored 55 from 23 balls in his first match this week — and, at a stroke, it evens up the contest.
It has also forced the Villagers to change their batting order, as the captain explains.
“James (Hall) enjoys opening the batting and while I did all right at the top of the order, I have now dropped down to No 4 to keep the stability that Obus gave us when he was batting at No 5.
“It’s unfortunate that we will not have our full-strength side available but there are only two changes from the team that beat Instonians on Saturday and a stronger side than lost off the last ball to them on Sunday,” added McCallan.
Opposite number Nigel Jones takes confidence, however, from the league game between the teams at The Lawn this month.
“We only lost by 21 runs on D/L (Duckworth Lewis) and we had no (Gary) Wilson, Jones or Michael Heaney.
“That’s 15 overs of bowling and three batsmen and, while it’s all mind games, that performance and our recent record in cup finals (including victory over Waringstown) will give us confidence going into the match,” says the CSN skipper.
“We are definitely still underdogs but we have nothing to lose and all I ask from the players is that they give it their all and come off the field on Friday night feeling knackered.”
Jones will not finalise his team until the morning of the match with young Christopher McMorran putting pressure on the semi-final team for a place in the final.
“He scored 23 not out against CIYMS on Saturday and was the only batsman who was able to stay with me (Jones scored 70 of his side’s 120).
“Too many others played big shots and got themselves out, but Chris’s was a top effort and it will be a choice between him and Hamilton Coulter for the last place,” confirmed Jones.
Neither captain is expecting a high-scoring game at Wallace Park, staging its first-ever Challenge Cup final, but the recent spell of dry, hot weather has ensured the ground is looking superb and should add another 30 runs onto a winning total.
But as both teams know, cup finals do not have to be high-scoring to be exciting. The last time Waringstown played CSN in the decider was just three years ago, at Downpatrick, when 150 won the game by four runs.
A repeat will do the underdogs just fine.
Civil Service North: M Ellison, G Wilson, N Jones, A Cowden, C Beverland, M Heaney, A Coulter, H Coulter (or C McMorran), C Goodall, J Costain, C Andrews.
Waringstown: James Hall, A Cousins, L Nelson, K McCallan, J Bushe, D Dawson, S Harrison, K Morrison, J Matthews, A Dennison, A Harrison. 12th man: A Kennedy.