WARINGSTOWN added a fifth trophy to last season’s impressive haul and captain Greg Thompson claims it was the momentum of 2017 that took his side to their record-breaking victory in the Gallagher Challenge Cup final on Friday.
No team had ever scored 289 to win the Cup but not only had the all-conquering Villagers six wickets in hand but 27 balls to spare as well.
It feels like last year’s momentum hasn’t stopped,” said Thompson. “In the big games we have stepped up and we did that last year and won four trophies and we have aspirations again this year.”
The man of the match was Adam Dennison whose innings of 145 not out was the highest in a 50-over final, a record set just over three hours earlier by Civil Service North opener Marc Ellison who finished 139 not out.
Indeed there have been only three higher scores than Dennison’s in the previous 127 finals and the best, 159 not out by James McDonald 83 years ago for North Down, was in an innings which lasted 111.4 overs!
It was particularly satisfying for Dennison because he now has the highest score by a Waringstown player which his father, David, had held for the last 35 years.
“There’s been plenty of banter in the house for the last few years, I always thought to myself I would love to do it,” said Adam. “Dad hasn’t made many games this season so I was delighted he was here to see me go past it.
“It was a case of just keeping the head down and kep going. I probably thought I had to stay to the end because it’s a bit nerve-wracking waiting to go in in a cup final and we were the best guys out in the middle to take it home, and thankfully that’s what we did.”
Despite his huge innings, Ellison, proving why he got a call-up from the Northern Knights this year, was clearly disappointed, but one of the shortest ever record-holders also paid tribute to Dennison.
“(My knock) wasn’t quite enough in the end, but full credit to Denny. It takes great skill to manipulate the ball around the ground and keep the scoreboard moving and with the guys at the other end chipping in, it was a special innings.
Ellison also confirmed that Graeme McCarter who had to leave the field and the ground after bowling just one over, was in much better health.
“It’s fantastic news to hear he’s ok and he’s in a better position than when he left the ground,” he added. “It would have been fantastic to have had his overs but these things happen.”
IT was a magnificent seventh consecutive NCU Challenge Cup final as final hosts for North Down on Friday and now, rightly, considered as the regular venue.
Since Downpatrick’s long reign as hosts ended in 1999, the final went to Ormeau for the last two years of its existence before alternating between Stormont and Downpatrick, again, before Wallace Park had the honour in 2011.
But since then, the NCU showdown has been held at The Green and the quality of the pitch, ground and off field facilities continue to be the envy of many. Both captains took time out in the post-match speeches to praise the groundstaff and when a team starts out knowing they can chase down 286 for victory, the action spoke louder than words. And the spectators, who can only have enjoyed it all, agreed.
IT is one final after another for Waringstown at the moment with the Challenge Cup winners moving into Twenty20 mode today for the Lagan Valley Steels decider this afternoon.
The opponents and venue are the same as last year with North Down travelling to The Lawn hoping to avenge last year’s defeat and win the cup for the first time since 2013 when they beat Lisburn – at The Lawn. Although they reached the final again the following year, Waringstown have won the last three T20 clashes between the teams.
The winners will join Brigade in All-Ireland T20 finals day on August 18, to be played in the North West.
The game is due to be the second part of a double header with Holywood facing Downpatrick in the Trophy final at 11am, with the Cup final starting at 3.30.