CIYMS bidding to extend lead at top over champions
Sunday's Robinson Services Premier League clash between league leaders CIYMS and defending champions Waringstown could go a long way to deciding where the title will end up.
A win for CIYMS would see a eight point gap open to their nearest rivals, and with a healthy run-rate amassed over the 2018 campaign, it would be their trophy to lose.
If Waringstown can run out victorious at Belmont, just like they did in the Challenge Cup semi-final, then the title race is well and truly on with six games left to play each and the pair meeting on the last day of the season.
CIYMS will also welcome bottom side Armagh on Saturday, and captain Nigel Jones says that is where his sides full focus will be first.
“For us, we have tried the best we can in the league because it’s more of a process than the cup, where depending how you turn up on the day sometimes you get knocked over.
“In the league, you have to win the game in front of you and we have to do that on Saturday against Armagh which is the first port of call.
“On Sunday, for everyone else it is the biggest league game of the season. For us, it’s a pretty decent fixture and we need to make sure we turn up mentally.”
Waringstown won the league last season by having a superior run-rate, with them and Jones’ outfit level on 40 points after 14 games, with a margin of 0.02 the difference between first and second.
Jones can look back on certain matches that could have been ended earlier during the last campaign, but is happy they have fixed that issue this season.
“Looking back through the year, there were a couple of games we could have put away quicker than we did and that might have helped us to win the league.
“In saying that, when a side draws with you at the top of the league because they got a washout and you have to play all your matches yourself, some people will say that’s Northern Ireland.
“Waringstown played as good of cricket as anyone last year and deserved it, and we weren’t clinical enough.
“That’s one thing we have been very good at this season.
“When we felt we can hurry up and put the game away we do that, and that’s probably reflected in our net run-rate.”
Allen Coulter has been the standout performer with the ball for the Belfast side this season, picking up 33 wickets from 16 games at a league-best average of 12.30.
Jones says his fellow opening bowler is a massive asset to the club.
“He’s been brilliant. As he is getting older he is maturing in terms of his game. He knows what he is doing with it and is more confident in it. “He’s a huge asset and he’s having a cracking season.”