Waringstown beat Merrion by 85 runs to clinch the Irish Senior Cup for a record-breaking sixth time after a fine all-round display at Stormont.

A fine batting display, coupled with a solid bowling and fielding effort, showcased the depth and all-round talents of a formidable club side, who can now rightly claim their place among the great club sides in Irish cricket history.

The used Stormont pitch may have brought howls of protest from the Irish camp this week, but there would be no complaints from the Waringstown faithful, on a surface ideally suited to their armoury.

Merrion were dealt a blow before-hand when overseas professional Poonish Mehta was ruled out with a hamstring injury, and you got the feeling the planets were aligning towards the NCU kingpins.

In a tricky start, they lost Adam Dennison cheaply, but a second wicket stand of 127 in 148 deliveries between James Hall and James McCollum laid the foundation for a formidable total.

Former Irish international Hall top-scored with 74 from 101 balls (5 fours, 2 sixes), while McCollum hit six boundaries in his 54 from 73 balls.

John Anderson was expected to be a pivotal figure in the contest, but not many would have thought it would be with the ball that he came to life.

Anderson (3-48) struck three times in quick succession to remove McCollum, Nelson and Hall and suddenly Merrion saw a chink of light as 139 for 1 became 152 for 4.

However, South African professional Shaheen Khan - playing what could well be his last match for the club*- in conjunction with skipper Greg Thompson (23), counter-attacked in a thrilling, and ultimately match-defining 5th wicket partnership.

They added 66 in just 53 balls, with Khan dominating, as he hit 5 fours and 3 sixes in a belligerent unbeaten 71 from 54 deliveries to take his team to 264 for 7 at the half-way stage.

It was going to take something special for Merrion to deny Waringstown, but in Dom Joyce and John Anderson, they have two players capable of producing a special innings.

Joyce started briskly with two boundaries, but fell to left-armer Phil Eaglestone to give Waringstown an early boost.

Merrion kept attacking, but every time they threatened, Waringstown hit back, and the brilliant run out of Lakhotia was symptomatic of their efforts.

Merrion's hopes were now firmly with Anderson, and the whoops of delight  from the Mid-Ulster camp when he was trapped lbw by Gary Kidd told you everything you needed to know.

Waringstown's triumvirate of spinners whirled away, chipping at the Dubliners middle order, with Kidd (2-35), Nelson (2-38) and McCallan (1-36) all among the wickets.

There were a few late blows from a hobbling Dave Langford-Smith (22), but when his runner was run-out, you knew it was that kind of day. The Merrion players had all worn special caps in memory of former player Damien Poder, who died earlier this year following a courageous battle with cancer.

It wasn't to be their day alas, as they were eventually dismissed for 179, with Man-of-the-Match Khan taking 2 for 23 to make the award a formality.

It's been a remarkable 12 months for Waringstown, at one point holding all the six major trophies on offer. They have relinquished the senior title to CIYMS, but who would bet against them repeating the triumph next year.

Indeed, with Merrion Leinster champions, who would bet against these two cricketing colossuses being in the final yet again in 2019?

It's going to take something special to stop them.

*Alistair Bushe of the News Letter reports that Shaheen Khan will be ineligible for the 2019 season due to not having played enough first-class matches.

IRISH SENIOR CUP SCOREBOARD

https://www.cricketeurope.com/DATABASE/2018/SCORECARDS/347217.shtml