Paul Stirling scored his second century in two innings for North Down yesterday as the Comber side laid down their credentials for the new Premier League season.

Stirling, of course, won’t be available for the majority of their Comber side’s matches – he heads off for a T20 Blast campaign with Warwickshire and then has nearly two months of Ireland commitments – but he has got his NCU side off to a sensational start.

After hitting 113 not out in the season’s opener against Cliftonville Academy, he hit 109 yesterday at Shaw’s Bridge as North Down chased down Instonians 236 in less than 37 overs.

Stirling faced just 88 balls and hit 86 of his runs in boundaries, including nine sixes, but after he moves on this season, North Down still have last season’s leading run-scorer, Ani Chore.

The Indian almost matched Stirling run for run in an opening stand of 204, before he was second out, for 90 from 100 balls; he hit 13 fours and a six. Overseas professional Neil Brand in his first innings for the club, finished 24 not out.

Just for good measure, Stirling had earlier taken two wickets, including Instonians top scorer Nikolai Smith for 72.

North Down’s rivals for the Premier League title were in direct opposition at Belmont and it was CIYMS who came out on top, beating defending champions Waringstown by five wickets.

Set 230 for victory, Ross Adair gave them a fast start with 41 off 37 balls and skipper Nigel Jones and new professional Keith Dudgeon saw them home with an unbroken stand of 41.

Cliftonville Academy recorded their first ever Premier League victory, against fellow top flight newcomers Cregagh, and Aditya Adey hit 93 off 85 balls with eight fours and five sixes as Woodvale beat Carrickfergus by 21 runs.

Lisburn are the surprise joint leaders with North Down after making it two wins out of two with a six wickets win at Stormont, Faiz Fasal taking his side all the way with 95 not out.

In Section One, Dundrum and Derriaghy have won their first two matches, while there were also wins yesterday for Ballymena, Templepatrick and Armagh.


Meanwhile, the inter-provincial Cup gets under way today with last year’s top two, Leinster Lightning and North West Warriors meeting at Pembroke (10.45am).

Champions Lightning welcome back Harry Tector from Northern Knights and Greg Ford and Jack Carty from Munster Reds this season and they still have a formidable opening attack in Josh Little, Barry McCarthy plus Simi Singh and skipper George Dockrell with the slow bowling.

Lightning squad: G Dockrell (capt), R Anders, A Balbirnie, J Carty, G Ford, J Little, B McCarthy, M Sherzad, S Singh, H Tector, T Tector, L Tucker.