INSTONIANS have named their strongest available side for today’s AJG Challenge Cup final against CIYMS at Comber (11am), including James Shannon and Shane Getkate.

Both sat out last weekend’s league matches, which ended in defeats to Waringstown and Muckamore, with Shannon nursing a knee injury which also kept him out of this week’s Ireland Wolves game and Getkate, with a broken little finger which, he has decided, will not keep him out of the NCU’s showpiece game of the season.

Getkate will bat at No 10 but with the break on his non-bowling hand, the Wolves one-day captain will hope to bowl as many overs as possible to make up for the loss of Stephen Bunting who will play only as a batsman, at No 6, following his recent shoulder injury.

The experience of former captain Eugene Moleon is also included and expect him to come on near the end of the CIYMS innings for his “death bowling”. The only first-choice missing, in the end, is wicket-keeper James Metcalfe with a broken knuckle but Jordan McClurkin, his predecessor with the gloves is the ready-made replacement.

Even an injured Shannon is a dangerous batsman as he proved in last week’s Twenty20 inter-provincial when he scored 67 from 31 balls, all but five of his runs coming in boundaries and he will open the batting with skipper Nickolai Smith, who along with Andrew White have scored the vast majority of Instonians runs this season.

“They will be wary of us,” said Smith, “but we also have Ben Rose who won the game at Carrick with the bat a couple of weeks ago while in our bowling, Nathan Smith will return from the Wolves match in great form and we also have James Magee and Robert McKinley and now Getkate is ready to bowl as well plus White’s accurate slow stuff.”

CIYMS skipper Nigel Jones admits they will be targeting the Instonians top three – all of whom are in the top six run scorers this season.
“There’s no doubt the top three have been winning games for them,” said Jones. “If we take one of them out of the equation they are vulnerable.
They could have six (Northern) Knights playing for them so they have a strong squad but I have a balanced team, at full strength and we are all different in what we can offer. If we are fully focused I would be confident we will be pretty good.

John Matchett has been the revelation for CI as opening batsman this season. A 50-ball century in a pre-season game against Waringstown set the tone and his new attitude has carried through the season and he is already closing in on 400 runs.
He is just two runs behind opening partner Chris Dougherty while Jones and South African Matt McGillivray are not far behind.

It is the professional who is the leading wicket-taker in the NCU this season while Trevor Britton and Jones are also in the top dozen, although the captain has a special word for his youngest bowler.
“We call David Robinson PK – the pro-killer – as he has the knack of getting out the professionals. He is quicker than you think and gets big wickets and is really coming on.”

Instonians may not have a pro but Smith, Shannon and Andrew White are as important as any overseas visitor and the simplest way of making a prediction, as Jones suggests, is if you can tame those three, then the Belmont side should be on their way to a repeat of their 2015 cup final win against Instonians.

The other six top flight sides are all in Premier League action today, indeed Waringstown have the chance to move clear at the top as they follow today’s game away to Civil Service North by making the shorter journey to Lisburn tomorrow.
Joint leaders North Down are away to Carrickfergus today in their only game this weekend.

Challenge Cup Final Teams:

CIYMS: N Jones (capt), C Dougherty, J Matchett, M McGillivray, R Hunter, J van der Merwe, J Mulder, K Rajavelu, T Britton, A Coulter, D Robinson. 12th man: J Moore

Instonians: Nik Smith (capt), J Shannon, A White, J McClurkin, R McKinley, S Bunting, B Rose, Nat Smith, E Moleon, S Getkate, J Magee. 12th man: L McNamara