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Clear Currency Irish Senior Cup Final Preview with quotes from Nigel Jones and David Miller

Jonny Morton  

There is guaranteed to be a new name etched on the famous Clear Currency Irish Senior Cup trophy this evening as both CIYMS and Lisburn prepare for their first ever final in the competition.

The two teams have been competing throughout the season in the big moments, including a Gallager Challenge Cup semi-final while CIYMS were Lisburn’s closest competitors for long stretches of the league campaign before the Wallace Park side secured the title earlier this month.

An Irish Senior Cup is the only piece missing from CI’s trophy cabinet during what has been a dominant stretch of success for the Belmont outfit over the past six seasons and victory at Bready today would mark a fifth triumph of 2022 alone. Their nearest miss came in 2019 when they lost in a nail-biting semi-final to Waringstown and captain Nigel Jones is motivated to finally tick off the full list of silverware.

“I think every team has the ambition to win the Irish Cup and we’re certainly no different,” he said. “We were knocked out in the semis in 2019 in the last over and that was pretty hard to take at the time and we said that if we get this chance again we make sure we go all the way with it. It seems to be this season and hopefully we will be able to achieve it. We’ve probably been building towards this for five or six seasons.

“We’ve had a lot of success in that time, but this is the one trophy that we haven’t been able to get our hands on or even get to the final, so to be in that position now feels like we’ve been working towards it.  The boys are relaxed but it’ll all be about turning up on the day.”

Moments like these are not just created or enjoyed by the group of players that take the field but by the whole club, who come together to embrace the occasion. For the supporters that have followed the journey of CI, this could be another crowning moment for their club and Jones says everyone involved is looking forward to the biggest game on the Irish club cricket calendar.

“It’s something that means a lot to everyone at the club and to be here in a final is a pleasing moment for everyone that has followed cricket at CIYMS for a long time,” he added. “A lot of people thought this day may never come so it’s exciting as a squad to be able to give the supporters that opportunity to get behind us in such a big occasion.”

Someone that knows how important this is to CIYMS will be on the opposite side trying to stop them achieve it – Lisburn wicketkeeper-batsman David Miller. Miller spent two seasons with CI, helping them win the 2021 Challenge Cup before moving to his current club prior to this campaign. Now with a Premier League winners medal also added to his haul, it could be a major hat-trick for Miller, who has thoroughly enjoyed his debut season at Wallace Park.

“Everyone was so warm and welcoming at the start and I fitted in nicely,” he said. “It was a smooth transition and winning a Premier League and reaching an Irish Cup final has been a huge bonus for the work we’ve put in since pre-season started in January. I know Saturday is going to be a big occasion for the club with it being the first time and everybody is looking forward to it.”

Lisburn have continued to exceed even their own pre-season expectations with a top-six league finish their main target, but flash forward a few months and they had won the title with two games to spare after losing just one match from 12. They will enter this game too as underdogs but that label won’t bother this group as they target another piece of history.

“You can go back through the scorecards and see that everyone has contributed,” added Miller. “I think what makes us a good team is that we don’t rely on any one person – we are all capable of putting in a big performance to help get the team over the line, we cover all bases and have good depth throughout the team. We also know within the group we will back each other up regardless of the situation so we can go out and play freely and express ourselves.”

The opportunity to play in an Irish Senior Cup final may only come around once in a player’s career with the effort and skill required to compete at the top-end of Irish club cricket, so it’s important to enjoy it despite the pressure and stakes. Coming up against former team-mates adds an extra element to it for Miller but he’s excited to get started in what is a first all-NCU final since 2011.

“This is one trophy they haven’t won so they’ll be eager to add it to their trophy cabinet but we also have never played in a final before so we will be trying our hardest to add it to ours,” he said. “I’d be more surprised if they weren’t at the business end of the season competing for these cups. They’re an extremely good side led well by Jonesy. I’ll probably have some strange feelings on Saturday – probably more nervous energy than anything else – but I’m expecting a tough game that will hopefully last 100 overs. I’m looking forward to it and may the best team win – it’s going to be exciting.”

Clear Currency Irish Senior Cup