Ian Callender (Sunday Life)
WHEN Greg Thompson joined Waringstown in 2013 and won the Challenge Cup in his first season, the Ireland international probably thought it would be the first of many.
But when he leads out the Villagers against Civil Service North at Comber on Friday morning (11am), it will be only Waringstown’s second appearance in the 50-over showpiece since and Thompson missed the last one!
“I was on honeymoon in 2014,” recalls the Waringstown skipper.
“The cup final was played in August rather than July which scuppered my plans but that’s the last time we were in the final.”
At least Thompson has a 100 per cent winning record because CSN shocked the holders that year with a five wickets (DLS) victory at this week’s venue and revenge will be in the air because Waringstown still have seven players who suffered defeat four years ago.
“Shaheen (Khan) was pro that year as well, so we wouldn’t have many changes,” added Thompson, “while CSN are largely changed (they have four survivors including man of the match Andrew Cowden).
“But it’s great to see young guys like Arron Wright and Morgan Topping involved, vindicating their reason to leave Waringstown to get exposure to a higher level of the game, so I’m delighted for them.
“But obviously I’m hoping they won’t be celebrating on Friday night.”
Both teams are missing key players on Friday, Kyle McCallan for Waringstown while Ireland T20 skipper Gary Wilson, who played in the semi-final against Instonians, will be captaining Derbyshire that evening.
CSN have stormed through their Cup campaign with crushing victories over Premier League rivals Carrickfergus and North Down before their 72 runs success in the semi, and although they have won just two of their first six league games, captain James Kennedy, in only his second season at Stormont, is not concerned.
“Anyone in the Premier League can beat anyone on their day and I have no doubt some big performances in red ball cricket are just around the corner,” he said.
“But I’m delighted we played some our best cricket in the cup and now have a final to look forward to.
“Waringstown are a very strong side and go into the game as favourites but we know that if we perform to our potential we are a match for anyone. This is a one-off game and whoever plays better on the day will win.
“CSN have a good record over the last few years in the Challenge Cup (they also beat CIYMS in 2016) and although there are a number of new faces in this team, we are looking for that first winners’ medal and at the same time complete a hat-trick for the club.”
CSNI: J Kennedy, M Ellison, A Cowden, A Malan, A Wright, M Topping, G McCarter, C McMorran, C Goodall, B Adair, M Foster, A Blain, A Johnston
Waringstown: G Thompson, A Dennison, J Hall, J McCollum, L Nelson, S Khan, M McClean, G Kidd, J Mitchell, P Eaglestone, R Waite, A Mitchell, S Kidd