Waringstown have been dealt a major blow ahead of Saturday’s Irish Cup final with Pembroke.
James McCollum, the Ireland batsman, has been ruled out of the showpiece at The Hills because of a shoulder injury.
His absence is a huge blow to the villagers’ prospects of retaining the trophy they have won for three of the last four years.
McCollum, who didn’t play in Northern Knight’s comprehensive defeat by Leinster Lightning on Tuesday, has already missed a sizeable portion of the club season because of international commitments, and Waringstown have often missed his class and composure at number three.
His absence will pile more pressure on a top order heavily reliant on openers Adam Dennison and James Hall, captain Greg Thompson and Lee Nelson.
Thompson will now have to shuffle his pack, with David Dawson among the options for the key number three berth.
The news reinforces Pembroke’s status as favourites for the final. The Dubliners include Shaheen Khan, Waringstown’s former South African professional who was pivotal to their success in the competition over the last two years, and Andrew Balbirnie, arguably Ireland’s most consistent batsman over recent times.