Our preview of the 2016 Open Competitions continues with a look at the runners and riders for the Middle 2 Cup. The seventeen teams in the draw are spread across Divisions 6. 7 and 8, with last year's winners, Laois 2 sitting in the middle. Whether there will be another Division 7 winner; or perhaps a Division 8 surprise; or even an "expected" win for one of the two Division 6 sides remains to be seen.
Sixteen sides drawn from Divisions 9 and 10 have been thrown together in the draw for the 2016 Intermediate Cup, and those sides from the lower league have been dealt a pretty poor hand. Six of the eight ties are pitting the two divisions against each other, meaning surprises are likely to be thin on the ground.
Last year's Junior Cup ended in the manner of all great cup stories. A Merrion 7 team entered the final on the back of being dismissed for only 12 on the Saturday, before bouncing back the following day with a 149 run win over Cabinteely. The sixth tier cup in Leinster has just as much chance of throwing up a surprise as other cup competitions (if not more so), so we'll attempt to pin the tail on the donkey here, by making a few predictions for the 2016 edition of the Junior Cup.
Last year's Minor Cup saw history as Swords 2 won the first piece of silverware in the history of the club. That day saw a 39 run win over Dundrum 3, mainly due to a 119 run partnership for the 8th wicket between Swords' Augustus Binu and Girish Kumar. Swords take their place again in this year's competition, and it would be a brave person who wagered against them repeating the feat.
The final of the 2016 Minor 2 Cup will take place in Greystones - Druids Glen on August 21, with it being guaranteed that there will be a new name on the trophy, and a pretty good chance that the winners will have never won a Cricket Leinster cup before!
It is still early days in the Cricket Leinster transfer market, with new players and overseas players yet to be announced at the top tier of the game. As such it is far too early to be making accurate predictions regarding the likely winners and losers in the 2016 Alan Murray Cup. What can be said is that over the last three seasons, a definite T20 elite had developed, and we will look at who those elite clubs have been, and whether anyone outside of that top five.
Some musing on increase in runs per wicket in modern club cricket.
The OCC has agreed that for the 2016 season, pink balls will again be used for all our midweek T20 competitions - Alan Murray, Tillain, YMCA Salver, Whelan, Russell Court.
The Tillain Cup - the prestigious T20 trophy for Division 3 and 4 teams, named after the well known Railway Union player Eddie Tillain. The last en years have brought eight different winners, but despite that promise of an open competition, the 2016 competition looks as if could be dominated by the top teams in the draw.
The YMCA Salver follows the route of all other T20 competitions in Leinster for the 2016 season, changing to a group phase instead of a knock out. As a result the competition increased from 18 matches to 28 matches, offering more T20 cricket to players.
With the 2015 Whelan Cup ending in a certain amount of controversy, the 2016 version will take place without defending champions Leinster 5, who were given a year off after fielding a player that was ruled to probably playing at too low a level. As a result, only four teams in this year's competition have won the Whelan Cup in the last ten years, and none of them more than once (Ringcommons 1 (2014), Sandyford 2 (2008), Phoenix 4 (2007) and Rush 3 (2006))
With the 2015 winners of the Russell Court Trophy, Dundrum 3 being promoted to the Whelan Cup, the fourth tier T20 compeittion in Leinster is wide open.
A short note on league cricket - structures and numbers.
Another day, another tantalising glimpse of the new season. The OCC has released the league structure for the 2016 season, with the headline news being that there will be two more teams playng in 2016, with 130 teams entered. There are new teams from Carlow, Ashbourne, Balbriggan and Clondalkin, tempered by the removal of teams by Railway Union and Sandyford.
The Open Competitions Division 2 fixtures for the 2016 season have been announced, with the first question to be answered concerning the teams that are involved in Division 2 this coming season.
The countdown to the 2016 Cricket Leinster season continues with the release of the Open Competitions Division 1 fixtures. With news of any player movements or overseas signings still only rumours, it is far too early to be looking at any possible title deciders, but even then, it is difficult to get away from some ties that have an added look of importance about them.
The draw for the Senior 2 Cup was broadcast live on NEAR 90.3fm before Christmas, with defending champions Laois 1 given a "trip" into the unknown. Laois have never played Dundrum, and so will welcome the Division 4 side to Laois for the first round match with no experience to rely on. Since entering the Senior 2 Cup for the first time in 2013, Dundrum have had a reasonable return, with their run to the semi finals in 2013 being the best.
Before Christmas, the draw for the 2016 Leinster Senior Cup was made live on NEAR 90.3fm, and here we look at that draw in detail.