It's a well worn phrase these days, and it is difficult to walk around any town in Leinster without hearing someone say, "Division 3 is always tight and this year is going to be no different". Balbriggan's last day route from relgation to champions is well known; last year Phoenix were only two runs away from finishing 4th instead of being relegated. But perhaps 2015 may be different. There is just a feeling that a few gaps have grown between the haves, the have a bits, and the haven't got muches
Dundrum CC have announced that they are regretfully withdrawing their 3rd team from Division 12 for the 2016 season.
Division 4 is made up of three very distinct groups of teams. There are the first teams, who are not too far away from playing at the highest level of the sport in Leinster, and could be the next North Kildare. Civil Service, Dundrum and Greystones all fit this category. Then there are a few second teams who know that this is a rung lower than second teams should really be playing. They want to be back in Division 3, and that will be the aim of The Hills 2, Railway Union 2 and Phoenix 2. And then there are a couple of teams who are really at the very limit of what a third team can achieve, and who are doing pretty well to be in Division 4 at all. Into this category fall YMCA 3 and Merrion 3.
There is no getting away from the fact that this year's Division 5 is distinctly odd.
Eight teams start, and in our opinion, all eight could have a convincing set of reasons in favour of coming in the bottom half of the table. Obviously that isn't to happen (unless there was a really odd set of coincidences), so we do our best here to put those eight teams in some sort of order.
In this year's Division 8, there look to be substantially more teams who will be looking down to the bottom few places with trepidation, rather than looking upwards with excitement. Three teams need to improve on last year's showing just to avoid relegation, and another couple may have slipped a bit over the winter. Time to look at the runners and riders.
The last few days have seen hundreds of players registered across the province, with a few tantalising glimpses of who may be a little stronger than last year, and who may end up struggling a bit. Division 9 has a good bit of that, with a few clubs who have seen an influx of members this year, and a few who may have lost a few. The OCC will be publishing starrings for most sides on Thursday morning, and the pre-season gossip can truly begin.
This column leaps into the future now, skipping over Divisions 7, 8 and 9, to have a look at Division 6, which starts this Sunday.
There is so much excitement and intrigue in Division 10 this year, that I'm not quite sure where to start. It is the cricket league equivalent of a confluence of tides, with the River Senior crashing from above into the rising River junior from below. Of the 28 rivalries in Division 10 this year, only nine teams have met in the last five seasons. So we have no real idea as to how two thirds of the league will go, but let us have a go anyway!
The entrance of a new club into Cricket Leinster's leagues has become a frequent occurrence in recent years, and this Sunday will see another momentous occasion, as Clondalkin 1 play their first match. How they perform over the season will have a big part to play in determining who will stay up and who will go down.
Adamstown 3 were the Division 12 winners in each of the last two seasons, and with them being promoted to bigger and better things, there is a wonderful opportunity for one of this year's participants to fill the gap. League titles have not exactly been rare for the nine teams in this season's Division 12 (only three haven't won a league title in the last ten years), but that doesn't make a league title any less coveted.
There is no common thread to be expounded upon in this year's Division 13. Eight teams who all have very different roles within their respective clubs - although presumably all have the same aim of winning Division 13.
All clubs fielding more than one team in league cricket must submit their first starring list of the season by midnight on Tuesday 12th April. As in past years, responsibility for monitoring starring lists/result cards from clubs has been split between OCC members.
Fate (or the hands of the OCC as it can also be known as), has thrown together eight teams in Division 14 who have very little past history. Who would have thought for instance that Pembroke 6 haven't played a single match against any team from Civil Service in the past five seasons?
Whereas our Division 16 review was based on little more than a blindfolded pick of cards from a pack, Division 15 has a lot more history behind it, and hence our predictions have a bit more thought behind them - although it is more drunken poker with matchsticks rather than World Series of Poker.
The one irrefutable truth is that whoever wins Division 16 will be experiencing a new emotion - none of the octet have previously won a league title at any level.That doesn't make a prediction any easier, nor does the news that two of the teams are playing their first season of league cricket, and a further four only have last year's Division 16 season to draw upon. It is a league that is callow in many senses.
Adult players will not be registered until they have uploaded a photo, and clubs will not be able to include these players in their starrings. These players will not be able to take the field either.