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Challenge Cup Champions 2022

It was a proud day for the club on Friday as the First XI won the Challenge Cup for the third time on the trot, defeating CSNI by 10 wickets at The Green in Comber

After glorious sunshine for the pre-match breakfast, warm-ups and toss the weather closed in and a heavy downpour delayed the start by nearly an hour

A second brief spell of rain shortened the game to 48 overs per side but from there on the weather set fair and the two teams set about securing the cup for their club

Having won the toss and elected to bowl Jonesy’s men kept the CSNI opening partnership in check with tight lines and lengths from both AC and Keith

It was a change of bowling that brought the first wickets, and three of them in quick succession

GK into the attack from the pavilion end showed why he’s one of the best spinners in Ireland bowling with flight, extracting turn and bounce from the pitch.

He accounted for openers Luke Georgeson and Ryan Hunter in the space of 3 deliveries, and then returned next over to remove CSNI professional Troy Johnson. Georgeson caught behind, Hunter and Johnson pouched by Jones at first slip

CSNI went on the counter attack with Mark Ellison and captain Stuart Thompson pouncing on anything loose and punishing some short deliveries

Both looked well set in the 30s to push on to bigger scores when Keith returned for 2 blistering overs

First he had Ellison caught at mid-on from a rushed pull stroke and then Thompson caught behind from a fine edge

The Civil innings was in tatters, made worse by the introduction of Jacob who ran through the remaining order.

2 caught and bowleds and 2 catches behind in the cordon giving him figures of 4-15, the pick

CSNI 161 all out in just over 41 overs.

Keith with 3-33 and GK 3-29, all ten wickets to the bowlers

A mention too to Allen Coulter who bowled 8 overs at the top of the innings, unrewarded in the wickets column but going for just 29 runs

There was a feeling in the air that something special was about to come and so it proved.

The unbroken opening partnership of 162 between Ross and Doc will go down as one of the best in cup history as they steered the team to a massive victory

The third largest opening stand in a Cup final ever, and it looked almost inevitable from early on

Ross punishing width through the off side, and Doc dismissing anything remotely short to the boundary

In true Ross fashion it only took until the 5th ball of the third over before the ball was launched out of the ground and a new one required

The CSNI attack looked somewhat devoid of ideas in the face of supreme batting and thoughts around the ground quickly turned to the mathematics of the situation

Would Ross be able to get a hundred, and Doc a fifty with the remaining runs required?

Doc duly obliged bringing up the landmark with a big blow out into the leg side to cap a great innings

All eyes then turned to Ross who finished the game in fitting style

A 6 to both win the Cup and bring up a wonderful cup final century!

162 reached before the drinks break

Ross finishing 103* from 78 balls, Doc 51 from 69 balls

A superb team performance from what is a superb team

Thoroughly deserving Challenge Cup Champions 2022