Carrickfergus were stripped of local cricket’s Intermediate Cup on Saturday night, a matter of hours after they beat Donaghcloney Mill in the final.
Carrick seconds triumphed by four wickets at The Meadow in Downpatrick, but as they celebrated a famous triumph back at their home ground Middle Road, the NCU ruled that they had fielded an ineligible player.
In a short statement on Twitter, the NCU said: ‘NCU Intermediate Cup Final 2017 Match awarded to Donaghcloney Mill II as Carrickfergus II played an ineligible player. #ncuic’
The controversy is around the registration of teenager Luca Johnston, who only joined Carrickfergus from Academy earlier this summer, but crucially after registration for cup competitions including the Intermediate Cup. He was playing in just his second game for Carrick’s second team.
It is believed the NCU were alerted to his ineligibility by a different club shortly after Carrickfergus’s triumph.
In further tweets from the NCU account, it said that “a player who had transferred after the 31st May cut off point played in the today’s final”. It added that the spokesman was “not sure if NCU or Carrick were informed first by another club”.
Carrickfergus official Roger Bell tweeted: “Luca was registered on 19th June, cut-off date for cups is 31st May (Comp Rule A22) Unfortunately admin error by the club Robin. Gutted.”
Carrick’s players are said to be “devastated” by the outcome. Their various social media accounts were full of celebration pictures on Saturday night. But now the trophy must be handed to Donaghcloney Mill.