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Gallagher Challenge Cup Final - Match Report

Man of the Match Nigel Jones (CIYMS) with 
Shane Matthews (Gallagher)A complete all-round performance from captain Nigel Jones helped CIYMS successfully defend their Gallagher Challenge Cup title with a 127-run victory over North Down at The Green on Friday.

Jones top-scored for the Belmont side with 51 from 50 balls as they posted a total of 269/8 before picking up figures of 2-40, which included the crucial wickets of Gayan Maneeshan and Peter Eakin in consecutive deliveries.

Having won the toss and elected to bowl, North Down had early success as Irish international Craig Young bowled John Matchett (13) – one ball after being hooked for six into the pavilion to exact the sweetest of revenge. That brought James Cameron-Dow to the crease alongside Chris Dougherty and the pair made slow but steady progress against a testing North Down bowling attack, putting on a partnership of 30 in 11 overs before the latter was bowled by Peter Davison for 20.

After a more cautious and watchful approach early on, Cameron-Dow (43) was starting to accelerate his innings and struck a towering six off Carl Robinson over long-on before following it up with another boundary two overs later. He was attempting to continue in a similar vein when he marched down the wicket to Robinson but missed the ball and Aniruddha Chore made no mistake with the stumping. Jason van der Merwe (22) and Mark Adair (16) were both dismissed within 3.1 overs of each other – bowled by Tom Mayes and trapped lbw off the bowling of Young respectively – to leave CIYMS sitting on 146-5.

Jones has had a superb 2021 campaign, averaging more than 50, and once again led from the front for his side, reaching a half-century from 48 balls that contained 4 fours and 3 sixes. He shared a sixth-wicket partnership of 46 with Graham Kennedy (12) before the North West Warriors all-rounder was run out and Jones followed in the 47th over when he was caught at deep mid-wicket to hand Young (3-41) his third wicket of the afternoon. Jacob Mulder (28*) ensured CIYMS carried momentum right through until the very end of their innings and they received another boost when 12 penalty runs were added on to their total of 257-8 due to North Down's slow over-rate.

CIYMS - Winners of the Challenge Cup 2021The hosts got off to a quick start through captain Alistair Shields and Chore, motoring onto 26-0 inside four overs but disaster struck shortly after. Shields (13) set off for a single after hitting through cover only to be sent back by his partner and Matchett's throw found him short of his ground. Chore has been a revelation since joining the Comber side ahead of this season and came into the final averaging over 100. With a four in the 9th over, he surpassed the 500-run mark since he was last dismissed and when the rain arrived a matter of balls later, North Down had reached 57-1 from 10 overs and Chore 23*.

Overseas professional Maneeshan had joined Chore following the dismissal of Shields and wasted no time in getting into his work, striking a four and then the first six of the innings off Allen Coulter. The duo had put on 54 for the second wicket when Maneeshan (19) was well caught by wicketkeeper David Miller off the bowling of Jones, and the CI skipper picked up another with his next ball, trapping Eakin lbw to leave North Down 81-3 after 16 overs. His hat-trick ball was struck for four by Chore, who went past 50 for the eighth time this season – and over 900 runs in the process – but not before he had lost partners Stuart Nelson (4) and Ryan Haire (0) from consecutive Kennedy deliveries.

That reduced North Down to 94-5 inside 21 overs, losing 4 wickets for just 13 runs after looking comfortable.  When Chore (54) was dismissed for the first time since July 10 – and a first time in the Gallagher Challenge Cup – after cutting a Mulder delivery to Adair at cover, CIYMS knew they'd all but secured another Challenge Cup crown. Adair (4-33) was brought back into the attack and immediately made an impact as Carl Robinson (16) and Tom Mayes (0) were both caught in the 32nd over. He wrapped up the game for CIYMS with the wickets of Craig Young (13) and Peter Davison (5), sealing a convincing 127-run victory.

At the post match presentation ceremony, NCU Chairman Sam Beckett announced CIYMS captain Nigel Jones as the man of the match.

Gallagher Challenge Cup Final 2021 at Comber, North Down
CIYMS 269-8 (50 overs, C Dougherty 20, J Cameron-Dow 43, J vd Merwe 22, N Jones 51, J Mulder 28no, C Young 3-41)
North Down 142 (35.1 overs, A Chore 54, M Adair 4-33, N Jones 2-40, G Kennedy 2-17)
CIYMS beat North Down by 127 runs
Man of the Match: Nigel Jones (CIYMS)

Photos courtesy of David Maginnis - Pacemaker Press

Challenge Cup match summaries