KYLE McCallan hit the last two balls of a thrilling Irish Senior Cup semi-final for six and four to continue Waringstown’s phenomenal run in the competition and end CIYMS’s charge for a clean sweep of the trophies this year.
The Villagers have lost only one Irish Cup match in the last five years – the 2016 final – and their never-say-die spirit keeps them on course for a hat-trick of victories.
CI have been the team that never know when they are beaten, winning the NCU T20 final, against Waringstown just 10 days ago with a superb last over from Nigel Jones but it was an injury to their skipper which, arguably, cost them only their third defeat of the season.
Jones went over on his ankle as he tried to prevent a boundary in the closing stages and, as a result, was unable to bowl his final two overs. The responsibility was handed to professional Obus Pienaar but he conceded 11 off the 48th over and after Mark Adair had restricted McCallan and Haseeb Azam to just five runs in the penultimate over, Waringstown were left needing 10 to win from the last six balls.
Pienaar made the perfect start, with only a bye and a single from the first four balls so it was still eight required from the last two balls with the veteran McCallan on strike.
It was the South African who could not stand the pressure, dragging down his fifth ball and McCallan made a sweet contact to deposit the ball over the square leg boundary. Just two to win from the last and McCallan cut it to the thirdman boundary and even before it had reached the fence the former Ireland captain, belying his 43 years, set off on a lap of honour, throwing his helmet in the air in celebration.
It was a fitting finale to a match to remember, with literally nothing to separate the sides until that final delivery.
CI had outfielded Waringstown who dropped three catches – although none was too expensive – and if the Villagers had lost it, they would have looked back on a four from No 10 Trevor Britton in the last over which McCallan and Gary Kidd, in a comedic ‘After you, Claude’ moment, watched the ball bounce over the boundary.
Only two batsmen on either side reached 50 and, remarkably, after identical rearguard innings, both were out next ball, Chris Dougherty after facing 98 balls with four fours and a six and opposite number Adam Dennison from 91 balls with just three boundaries.
Dougherty’s wicket was the first of three in in successive overs as CI collapsed from 97-2 to 107-5 and it needed a seventh wicket stand of 48 between Jason van der Merwe and Jacob Mulder to get the Premier League leaders back on track. Britton and James Cameron-Dow then added 17 runs from the last 10 balls and at halfway no-one really had any confidence naming a winner.
Waringstown also lost two quick wickets at the 30-over mark to sulmp from 108-2 to 112-4 and when skipper Greg Thompson fell to a superb diving catch by Jones, it looked all over for Waringstown.
But Haseeb Azam, who has disappointed with the bat for most of the season, came good, and despite three excellent overs at the death from international Mark Adair, helped McCallan add 53 from 11 overs. That left 10 from the last. Over to you Kyle.
In the final on August 31, in The Hills, Waringstown will come up against last year's professional Shaheen Khan as Pembroke easily accounted for Phoenix in yesterday’s other semi-final by 7 wickets.