The countdown clock is ticking down perhaps a little too quickly ahead of the 2018 season - for a start, we could do with ten weeks of dry weather before grounds are ready. And with so much to do ahead of what could be a potentially record breaking Open Competitions season (with more teams competing than ever before), there is no better time to start our previews of the 2018 season.
First up is the Minor 2 Cup, won by Adamstown 5 in 2017, and the lowest of Cricket Leinster's eight Open Comps cups. There has been something of a reorganisation of the timing of Cricket Leinster's cups for 2018, and the Minor 2 Cup will take its place towards the end of the season, with the first round being on Saturday 14th July, and the final being in Greystones Druids Glen on Sunday 16th September.
The top of the draw sees Bagenalstown 3 of Division 15 host Division 16's Longford 3. Longford enter Cricket Leinster's competitions for the first time this season, and traditionally, that first year is tough. Bagenalstown 3's cup exploits have not been too famous (they have lost their last three), but a bit of experience and home advantage, should see them through.
Mullingar 3 got to the semi final of the Minor 2 Cup last year, and have beaten Civil Service 4 on the last three occasions the teams have met, with Service's last win being in 2012. But all cups need an upset, and home advantage may just make up for Civil Service playing their league cricket a division below Mullingar.
There could be something of an "upset" in the next tie, where North Kildare 4 travel to Balbriggan 4. North Kildare 4 have an excellent cup record in the last two seasons, and got to the 2017 final. But dig below the surface and things don't look quite so rosy - Balbriggan have won the last nine matches between the two clubs, with one of those nine being between the two sides. Home advantage as well as that record will see Balbriggan through.
Ashbourne 2 haven't yet completed a cup game despite two seasons of league cricket and face a potentially tricky game to Clondalkin 2. Clondalkin 2 didn't progress past the first round in their one attempt, but have beaten Ashbourne 2 twice in the league and should advance this year.
Two non-league sides clash in north Wexford, when Gorey 2 will host their first match as a team, with Rush 4 travelling to Courtown. There have been no previous meetings between the clubs and as with Longford 3, Gorey 2 will find their first season difficult. Rush to progress.
The tie of the round is a real humdinger, and it would have graced the final. Defending champions, Adamstown 5 of Division 15, will host Leinster 7 - winners of the Minor Cup in 2011 and this competition in 2014. The two haven't previously played, but for obvious reasons, Adamstown's 2017 trophy trumps Leinster's older efforts.
Both Ringcommons 2 and AIB 2 lost their sole cup match last year, and the two clubs have never played each other at any level. AIB 2 aren't currently in the league, but there is a history of non league sides doing well in the Minor 2 Cup, and we may have another upset on our hands here.
The bottom tie sees Greystones 3 attempt to make it to a home final, when they welcome Merrion 8 to Druids Glen. Three previous matches between the sides have resulted in three Merrion wins, and it is difficult to predict anything other than Merrion spoiling the party.
Pin the tail on the donkey time - the four semi finalists will be Bagenalstown 3, Clondalkin 2, Adamstown 5 and AIB 2, with Adamstown retaining their title.