CIYMS look to take first step towards defending All-Ireland Twenty20 Cup crown

CIYMS captain Nigel Jones is looking his side to put the disappointment of last weekend behind them as they aim to defend their All-Ireland Twenty20 Cup crown, which starts with a semi-final against Donemana at Bready today.

After winning the LVS T20 Cup against North Down two weeks ago, the Belmont club booked their spot in another All-Ireland tournament, which they won last season after beating Malahide by seven wickets.

They come into this game on the back of a Robinson Services Cup semi-final defeat to Waringstown last Saturday in Comber, where they were edged out on fewer wickets lost with the scores tied after 20 overs.

With one trophy already secured, Jones is happy with the season to date, but he and his side are determined to round the campaign off on a winning note.

“We are probably in a situation at the moment where we are fairly happy with how the season has gone,” he said.

“We will probably look back at last weekend where the scores were level but the wickets weren’t and to get knocked out on that probably wasn’t an easy one to swallow.

“We have to take that on the chin and we tried to take the positives from the game.

“There are a lot of things that we didn’t do quite right but there was a lot we did right too.

“As I said to the boys, we have to take that and look forward to Saturday’s big game. We have had a great season so far so let’s keep it going.”

Jones batting in the T20 Cup final. ©CricketEurope

This is a repeat of last year’s semi-final where James Cameron-Dow and Jacob Mulder shared seven wickets before John Matchett scored 82* as CIYMS went on to win comfortably by 10 wickets at Belmont.

CI are on the road this time around and Jones is expecting a more competitive contest than the one from 12 months ago.

“That was a good day for us,” he added.

“We played well at home and we did a lot of good things. They’ll probably admit they weren’t at their best.

“I’m certainly not going into the game expecting us to produce anything like that or for it to be as straightforward as that, but we are pretty confident and clear on what we want to do so I think we will be keen to show our strength again after the disappointment of last weekend.”

The winner of this All-Ireland competition qualifies for the European Cricket League, which brings Twenty20 club champions from all over the continent together for a tournament that is held in La Manga, Spain.

CI missed out on their opportunity this summer following the tournament’s cancellation due to the coronavirus pandemic so they have been handed two chances to qualify this time round for the 2021 edition.

If they were to lose today, they will play the eventual winner of the All-Ireland T20 Cup next Sunday at Belmont in a play-off, but Jones’ sole focus is winning it outright and not relying on the back-up route.

“It was disappointing not to get the chance with the ECL earlier this year due to the pandemic but we had to deal with it,” he said.

“For us looking ahead, we would rather just go and win every game in front of us rather than rely on a back-up.

“Hopefully we will get two games of cricket now but we need to make sure we hit our straps on Saturday first.

“Anyone playing for that (ECL) would be pretty excited about it.

“It looks like a cracking tournament and is a way of showcasing Irish domestic cricket but also for the boys, the experience of playing T10 and a chance to win another trophy out there would be great. It’s an exciting opportunity.”

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