On a record-breaking day in Comber, Waringstown won the Gallagher Challenge Cup for the 26th time, avenging their defeat by Civil Service North at the same venue four years ago.
Marc Ellison hit the highest score in a one-day final for CSN but three hours later was usurped by Adam Dennison, who finished 145 not out as Waringstown romped to their victory target of 286 — another record — with four and a half overs to spare.
Only eight wickets fell all day on a typical North Down ‘road’ as the teams served up wonderful entertainment for a good Cup final crowd, but it was the loss of Graeme McCarter which was to prove crucial to the outcome.
The former Ireland international was ill before the game but took the decision to play. His condition worsened and, although he took the field for the Waringstown innings, all he could do was get through his first over with the ball. He went to hospital but last night he was "feeling much better".
McCarter's remaining nine overs were undoubtedly ‘missed’ by CSN, but nothing should be taken away from Dennison’s knock, his highest score for the club.
When he hit his sixth six to take his tally to 137, he knew he had equalled his father David’s score in the 1983 final for Waringstown. A single from the next ball gave him the family milestone and he celebrated with a punch in the air.
There was still time for another six in the next over before Dennison jumped for joy when captain Greg Thompson hit the winning runs, and the Challenge Cup, virtually a permanent resident back in the glory days of the 1970s, was on its way to The Lawn for the first time in five years.
Dennison lost his opening partner James Hall in the fourth over, but James McCollum continued his superb recent form to share a partnership of 142, and with his 73 coming from 77 balls, Waringstown could afford the loss of two wickets in three balls and still be in control of the final.
At halfway, they were happy to be chasing just 286 because CSN had also started at a run a ball and brought up the 150 in the 27th over for only one wicket.
Ellison was content to play second fiddle in a stand of 87 with Andre Malan, who scored 52 of them from just 38 balls. But the South African could only get a glove to an attempted reverse sweep to Lee Nelson’s fourth ball, and when the slow bowler struck again in his next over, Waringstown were in the box seat.
Ellison finished with 139 from 143 balls with 10 fours and seven sixes — just two boundaries fewer than Dennison — but as CSN captain James Kennedy admitted afterwards, they left runs out there, with only 135 coming from the last 23 overs.
Waringstown felt they had the momentum going into the innings, and 45.3 overs later they had become the fifth team in seven Comber finals to complete a successful chase — and the biggest yet.