KYLE McCallan proved that nothing beats experience as he produced a man of the match performance to bring the Irish Senior Cup back to The Lawn for the second time in three years.

Eight years after he retired from the international scene and 16 years after his first Irish Cup final, McCallan and captain Greg Thompson took Waringstown to victory with an unbroken seventh wicket stand of 43, after the former Ireland skipper had taken three for 18.

“I just try and do what I’ve done in my whole career, mix it up, try to vary the amount of spin and make the batsmen work hard. Every dog has its day and this was mine,” said McCallan.

“We are still a young team with Adam (Dennison), James (McCollum) and Marcus (McClean) batting there, but it was a brilliant opening partnership which set us up. We had a wobble (93-3 became 93-6) and all credit to The Hills. I thought Yaqoob Ali bowled brilliantly and Albert van der Merwe and Max (Sorensen) captained the whole thing very well. But I was pleased to see Greg squirt that ball to mid-wicket (to win the match).

The result should never really have been in doubt. It was a slow pitch but 135 was nowhere near a par total as The Hills allowed the Waringstown bowlers to dominate.

Shaheen Khan, after a two-week rest, as expected took his place after injury and showed no ill-effects. After four overs with the new ball he had figures of 4-1-3-1. The Hills were in a rut and they never got out of it, still content to take singles rather than disrupt the bowlers’ rhythm.

So at halfway they had struggled to 71 for two, eight overs later it was 89 for three and even when Sorensen, who can change the course of a game in a short space of time, came to the middle at 99 for four, it took him seven overs to hit his first boundary. Indeed, his four and the only six of the innings were the only boundaries in the last 14 overs, the innings ended abruptly with three wickets in four balls and 15 balls unused
Thompson, though, give all the credit to his bowlers.

“At one stage they could have posted 180-190, even 200 with Max and the pro (Ryan Cartwright) coming in at dangerous times but the quality of our spin attack held strong and we held our catches at important times,” he said.

Lee Nelson bowled five overs for 10 runs and although Kidd conceded 40 runs, he hurried the innings to its conclusion in his last over but it was McCallan with the wickets of Under 19 international Mark Donegan, one of only two batsmen in the match to get past 25, van der Merwe and Cartwright who was the star.

The wicket of the South African, a masterstroke in field placing and arguably the key moment in the match.
“I put the field out because I thought he would try and go there (deep mid-wicket), so I took the pace off it, bowled a top spinner and he got right underneath it and it went down Denny’s throat. Greg and I can doff our caps to that one,” said McCallan.

After that, Waringstown needed only a positive start to their innings to put themselves in control and Dennison and James Hall did just that, with 52, including eight boundaries, in 12 overs, and needing only another 84, this talented Waringstown side were not going to mess it up from there.

Cartwright, with an impressively fast second spell, did take two wickets in three balls but Thompson and McCallan would not be moved.

Now, with after a record-equalling fifth Irish Cup success, the target is the biggest prize of all, the Premier League title to add to their NCU T20 and Ulster Cup trophies.

McCallan summed up the mood in the camp. “I don’t know how many clubs have won four trophies in a season but we are very motivated to get over the line against Lisburn next Saturday, so we will not be taking that lightly. CIYMS outplayed us last Sunday, that kept them in it so we have a job to do next weekend.”