Captain Nigel Jones was the hero as CIYMS won the first trophy of the season last night with a thrilling one-run victory over Lagan Valley Steels T20 Cup holders Waringstown at The Lawn.
The Villagers, chasing a fourth successive victory in the competition, needed seven off the last over but Jones had Gary Kidd caught at deep-mid-wicket off the fourth ball, after two swings and misses, and then restricted Davy Dawson to a couple of twos.
Waringstown actually needed only 10 off the last two overs but CI professional Obus Pienaar also played his part, conceding just three off the 19th over and claiming the wicket of his opposite number, Haseeb Azam, caught off a reverse sweep from his last ball.
The superb finale by the Belmont side underlined why they are favourites to lift all five available trophies this season - they have only to wait another week for their second final of the season, the Gallagher Challenge Cup decider against Instonians at Comber next Friday.
This victory will send them there in great heart and with Jones their inspirational captain, who would bet against them from completing a clean sweep?
Not only did he take four wickets last night - he dismissed Adam Dennison and James Hall in the space of five balls after they had put on 73 for the first wicket - but he put on 108 with Jason van der Merwe after CI's formidable top three of James Matchett, Chris Dougherty and Pienaar had contributed only 15 runs.
Van der Merwe scored 80 from 57 balls, with seven fours and four sixes, while Jones' 38 came off 30 balls, the stand ended only in the last over. Lee Nelson dismissed both batsmen and restricted CI to six runs, but with Greg Thompson, the other Jones wicket for a three-ball duck, Warinsgtown lost their way in the mid-innings and CI never allowed them to recover.
Ireland Under-19s, meanwhile, started their campaign to qualify for next year's World Cup finals with an impressive 113 runs victory over Jersey in the Netherlands yesterday.
William Smale, the Englishman with the Irish passport who has never played a game in the country, was the top scorer with 66, but it was Instonians all-rounder James Hunter, coming in at No.8, and JJ Garth who propelled Ireland to a total of 219-9 with late runs.
When Smale was out, Ireland were 148-6 with 17 overs left, but the seventh wicket pair added 59 to leave them in a comfortable position at halfway.
The player of the match, however, was 15-year-old slow left armer Jamie Forbes, who took 5-19 in just seven overs, and with Alex Neary, a late call-up to the squad, making two early breakthroughs with the new ball, Jersey never threatened an upset, bowled out in the 35th over.
Ireland are back in action today against Denmark and, after a rest day on Sunday, they have back-to-back games against the Netherlands and a key clash with Scotland on Tuesday.
LAGAN VALLEY STEELS T20 CUP FINAL
The Lawn: CIYMS 147-5 (J van der Merwe 80, N Jones 38; L Nelson 2-13) Waringstown 146-8 (20 overs, A Dennison 45, J Hall 32, M McClean 27; N Jones 4-21, J Cameron-Dow 2-31). CIYMS won by one run.
ICC UNDER-19 WORLD CUP QUALIFIER
The Hague: Ireland 219-9 (50 overs, W Smale 66, JJ Garth 31, J Hunter 28, T Tector 26; C Carnegie 3-49, J Sumerauer 3-57) Jersey 106 (34.1 overs, J Forbes 5-19, A Neary 3-19). Ireland won by 113 runs.