This Friday, the 13th, sees the climax of the Gallagher Insurance Men's Senior Cup Final at The Green in Comber between holders CIYMS and North Down.
The home side have a real pedigree in the competition having won it 31 times and sharing the trophy in 1994 with Lisburn CC. CIYMS on the other hand have only won the Cup three times, most recently in 2019. However, most cricket pundits will make CIYMS favourites in the showpiece game of the NCU calendar because of their strength in depth and the match winners in their side.
Opening batsmen on both sides will be tested with the new ball by bowlers of the calibre of Ireland's opening attack of Mark Adair and Craig Young supported by Allen Coulter and Tom Mayes. CI's pair will be backed up by their experienced skipper Nigel Jones who will also look to score big when batting, along with the likes of Chris Dougherty, Matchett, Mulder and co. North Down will look to all-rounder Peter Eakin to contribute with both bat and ball. Support in the bowling department coming from leg spinner Carl Robinson and skipper Ally Shields will look to lead from the front opening the batting along with the prolific Ani Chore. North Down pro Gayan Maneeshan has also been showing signs of form recently and will be keen to make his mark.
On their way to the final CIYMS had a comfortable first round win over Carrickfergus with new recruit from the North West Graham Kennedy named Man of the Match for his all-round performance. Another regulation win in the quarter final over Woodvale saw JCD record his maiden century and in the semi-final a strong all-round team performance allowed them to them ease their way into the final with a 142 runs victory over CSNI.
North Down overcame a stubborn Cliftonville Academy side by 5 wickets in the first round. Then a comprehensive 9 wickets victory over Lisburn saw them book their semi-final berth with Ryan Haire named Man of the Match for his 5 wickets. In the semi-final win over Instonians wicketkeeper/batsman Ani Chore continued his fine form in the competition with a Man of the Match 85 not out. He has yet to be dismissed in the Cup this season scoring 203 runs in the process!
So, if the weather Gods are kind to local cricket we should be in for a fascinating contest. Both teams will have picked the strongest teams available to them with international trio of Mark Adair, Craig Young and Graham Kennedy flying back on Thursday evening from an Ireland training camp at Millfield School in England to play for their respective sides.
Action gets under way on Friday at 11.00am. So, who will the 13th be unlucky for - CIYMS or North Down?
Thanks go to the sponsors, Gallagher Insurance, of the Cup competitions both Men's and Women's and I’m sure Shane Matthews and his team will enjoy the day at Comber.