Waringstown will meet Civil Service North in the Gallagher Challenge Cup Final at the end of the month after two superb Semi-Finals yesterday.
Civil Service North shocked favourites Instonians at Shaw’s Bridge, first of all scoring 278-9 then reducing their hosts to 6-4! Despite an eighth-wicket stand of 79, there was no way back for last year’s beaten finalists and CSN will get a chance to make it three Final wins in five years.
The other Semi-Final, at Belmont, lived up to its match of the day billing, the first clash of the season between the two best teams in the NCU going down to the last ball with Waringstown winning by one wicket.
Despite chasing 291 for victory, the Villagers needed only three off the last over but set batsman Marcus McClean, in trying to get back the strike for the second ball of the over, attempted to run a bye to the wicket-keeper but Chris Dougherty’s throw beat him to bring James Mitchell to face the next.
After two plays and misses, umpire Mark Hawthorne called a wide against Allen Coulter to move Waringstown within two runs of victory but next ball they were nine wickets down, with Ryan Hunter’s throw from mid-on beating Mitchell’s dive.
Gary Kidd took a single into the covers off the fifth ball to tie the scores but because fewer wickets lost decides Cup games – and CI had lost only five – Waringstown still needed another run to clinch their place in the final.
No 11 Phil Eaglestone was on strike for the final delivery and when he played and missed they attempted another bye and this time succeeded to claim a thrilling victory.
The man of the match was an easy decision because Shaheen Khan had masterminded the chase with 126 from 95 balls with 10 fours and five sixes.
McClean provided the best support, in a sixth-wicket stand of 99 from 68 balls, but when Shaheen was bowled by his South African compatriot and friend Matt McGillivray, Ross Waite, replacing the absent Kyle McCallan, was run out next ball in another suicidal run to pile up the drama.
CIYMS had two century partnerships, first between top scorer Dougherty and Nigel Jones, and then between McGillivray and Ryan Hunter. But on a hard pitch and a fast outfield, anything less than 300 was always going to be vulnerable and so it proved.
In the one Robinson Services Premier League game, Carrickfergus missed the chance to join Waringstown and CI at the top of the table when they lost by three wickets to Muckamore.