The agony and the ectasy
Johnny Morton (News Letter)
There is nothing quite like sport – the highs; the lows; the tension and drama.
After Lisburn lost their final Robinson Services Premier League match of the season at CIYMS on Friday night, they could only watch on as Muckamore and Instonians tried to secure their top-flight status for 2020 and relegate the Wallace Park outfit in the process.
Level on points with Lisburn, Muckamore knew that any positive result from their remaining three games would be enough.
Instonians needed to win two from six matches.
Entertaining Waringstown at Moylena on Saturday afternoon, Muckamore restricted the Villagers to 146-7 from their 20 overs with Pavan Karthik and Shane Henderson both taking two wickets.
From there they would be taken on a cruel rollercoaster of emotions.
As Steve Lazars clattered his way to 56 from 27 balls, Muckamore could almost reach out and touch survival – it was within their grasp heading into the final over needing just six runs to win and five to tie.
A result which would have been enough to stay up.
Waringstown’s James Mitchell held his nerve, conceding just four runs, and as he whipped the bails off to run Francis Collins out, there were scenes of two conflicting emotions.
The jubilance of a Waringstown side trying to end their season on a high and the gut-wrenching horror of a Muckamore team knowing this was one that got away.
Neil Gill’s men were a yard away from retaining their Premier League tag, and that would be the closest they would get all weekend as they lost by 35-runs to Instonians on Sunday morning before their evening clash with Carrickfergus was abandoned.
It’s a harsh way to go back to the second tier for a Muckamore side that fought hard throughout the whole season and came up short by the smallest of margins on the most dramatic of weekends.
Sport can be cruel but it also gives you the chance to redeem yourself and prove to everyone the class you have.
Just ask Instonains who picked up 10 points from three matches, two more than they had managed in their eight previous fixtures.
While watching Andrew White’s side showcase the high-level of skill everyone knew they possessed, you had to admire their ability to stand up and be counted when it mattered.
Shane Getkate struck 51 on Saturday to stun eventual champions CIYMS at Belmont with a 21-run victory and it was a quickfire half-century from Murray Commins that saw them ease past Muckamore and reach the promised land of safety.
Getkate was at his brilliant, brutal best on Sunday afternoon at Shaws Bridge, blasting 108* of his sides 192 against CIYMS before the two teams tied in a match that will go down as perhaps the best match of the season in typically below-par September conditions.
Instonians have a squad that should be challenging closer to the top of the table next season than the bottom and they undoubtedly will. This was just a blip that will surely be corrected in 2020.
Everyone associated with Lisburn would have been frantically checking and refreshing social media feeds to see how their rivals were getting on and would have been delighted to see they will be a Premier League side next season after surviving the drop on net run-rate.
Adam Berry’s side lost their last eight matches but after winning three of their first six, it proved enough to stay in the top-flight for another season. Just.