CIYMS’ Premier League title celebrations were put on hold yesterday when their game against Civil Service North was washed out, but they are just one match away from confirming only their second ever top flight success.
In reality it is all over bar the shouting — the huge net run-rate differential certain to decide the outcome even if, by some miracle, Waringstown win their last three games and CI lose their remaining trio of matches.
Despite the heavy overnight rain, CI insisted on CSN travelling to Belmont yesterday morning, no doubt hoping to get in some sort of match because their next scheduled action is on Saturday, against Instonians.
Not only is that game at Shaw’s Bridge — they would love to win the title at home — but it will be overshadowed by Saturday’s Irish Cup final, a mile up the road at Stormont where, ironically, Waringstown could also be celebrating.
There was no doubt who the better team over the league programme is this season after CI completed the double over the outgoing champions.
In the first game, John Matchett and Matt McGillivray scored half centuries as the Belmont side won by the huge margin of 136 runs. On Saturday, at The Lawn, it was Ryan Hunter and Jason van der Merwe who scored a pair of 70s in a superb undefeated fourth wicket partnership of 158 as CI eased home in a rain-interrupted match with six and a half overs to spare.
And those different names have summed up CI’s success. They have never had to rely on the same batsmen — indeed professional McGillivray, who started the season batting at No 4, is ending it at No 6 such has been the success of Hunter and van der Merwe who each took their average for the season to over 50 with their latest undefeated innings.
Allen Coulter, with the new ball, has also enjoyed his best season, with the first three on Saturday taking him to 40 wickets and McGillivray also going past 30 with another double.
The league’s top two have slugged it out all season matching each other with six quality batsman supplemented by the occasional contribution from the lower order — Kyle McCallan was 46 not out for Waringstown on Saturday — and four slow bowlers but the difference has been the respective pace attacks with Coulter, skipper Nigel Jones and McGillivray sharing 95 wickets against Shaheen Khan, Phil Eaglestone and James Mitchell’s 64.
Waringstown’s home game against Muckamore was the other Premier League victim yesterday as the NCU suffered a wash-out.
In the rest of Saturday’s action, there were wins for North Down, by 58 runs, Instonians, by five wickets and Carrickfergus by three wickets.
One match did beat the weather yesterday, the All-Ireland U11 final, and Instonians beat St Johnston to win the trophy for the first time since 2004.
Shaw’s Bridge: Instonians 196-3 (20 overs, Ben McCausland 92 not out, Amy Hunter 67) St Johnston 88 (Harry Pearson 39; Michael Hollway 3-13). Instonians won by 108 runs.