Civil Service North facing their biggest Cup challenges
Civil Service North remain unbeaten in 50-over cup cricket this season but they will face their two biggest tests this month.
On Sunday week, Leinster cup kings Clontarf head to Stormont for a quarter-final clash in the Irish Senior Cup, and on Friday July 27, CSN will line up in the Gallagher Challenge Cup final for the third time in five years against Waringstown.
The Villagers, after their thrilling last-ball, one-wicket win over CIYMS in Saturday's semi-final will start favourites, just as they were on their last appearance in the final in 2014; that year they lost - to Civil Service North.
Indeed the omens are good for a repeat victory by the Stormont aces as they also beat CI in the 2016 final so every other year...
There was no denying their right to be back at Comber at the end of the month as an accomplished - rather than spectacular -batting performance propelled them to 278-9. No batsman reached 50, but the top five all scored at least 27, including Gary Wilson, staying on after leading Ireland in the Twenty20 internationals against India, who made 37 off 43 balls.
The period which won the game for CSN, however, were the first six overs of the Instonians reply which ended with the home side on 6-4, with two wickets each for Andre Malan and Graham McCarter. Skipper Andrew White rallied with 59 but they were bowled out 72 runs short.
Waringstown remain unbeaten since the opening day of the season but, as expected, CIYMS pushed them all the way and only for a couple of dropped catches by James Cameron-Dow the result would probably have gone the other way.
Marcus McClean was missed on 19 and again on 38 and although he scored only another four runs after that, it would have left Waringstown needing seven off the last over; instead they managed only the required three, No 11 Phil Eaglestone and Gary Kidd scrambling a bye off the final delivery to bring the runs feast to an end on 581.
The most vital miss was Shaheen Khan on 19, ironically off Cameron-Dow, and the Waringstown professional ended up with a match-winning 126.