Eight Leinster teams go into the second round of the Irish Senior Cup. Six matches involve northern opposition, while Clontarf and The Hills are given an early opportunity to lock horns after their match in the Alan Murray Cup was cancelled yesterday.
Leinster teams start the day on the back foot with no less than five of them making the journey up the M1 to take on NCU opposition. With play due to commence at 12.30 it will be an early start for many of them. Fortunately with improved roads travel time is not a big issue, although amazingly the negotiations around the customs union in the Brexit negotiations do not appear to have given due weight to the possible impact on cricket start times in the future.
Merrion are the one team with home advantage over northern rivals as they welcome CIYMS to Anglesea Road. Merrion have a good record in the ISC in recent years but they take on one of the top sides in the NCU - currently lying third in their Premier league. They have a number of big name players including Nigel Jones, Jacob Mulder and Chris Dougherty. Merrion are at close to full strength with Max Neville and David Langford-Smith coming back into the team. Beant Bhathal is unavailable.
Merrion: Dom Joyce [C], Patrick Tice [W], John Anderson, Tyrone Kane, Tom Stanton, Jack Carty, Poonish Mehta, Michael Lewis, Max Neville, David Langford-Smith, Niranjan Shankar.
The other home fixture is at Castle Avenue where Clontarf take on The Hills. This should be a very evenly matched contest with Clontarf at full strength and strongly pressing Merrion at the top of the Premier league. The Hills have recovered from a modest start to the season and are beginning to show their form from last year.
The Hills: Max Sorensen [C], Mark Donegan [W], Albert van der Merve, Sean Terry, Nicolaas Pretorius, Tomás Rooney Murphy, Andrew Kavanagh, Harry Archer, Luke Clinton, Daya Singh, Nazeer Shoukat.
Clontarf: Joe Morrissey [C], Declan Gallagher, Shariful Islam, Waqar Azmat, David Delany, Conor Kelly, Sameer Dutt, Bill Coghlan, Andrew Poynter, Obus Pienaar, Robert Forrest.
The Leinster teams travelling to away fixtures have some pretty stiff hurdles to overcome. Top of the list is YMCA who have a very difficult fixture against the top club in the country Waringstown. Further they have to do this without Simi Singh who has done so well for the club this year with bat and ball but who is away on international duty. But they do have James Parkinson back who proved last weekend that is well capable of making quick runs.
Another club down a key player is Leinster, who are away to Carricfergus. In this case the player with Ireland is captain George Dockrell. Their opponents today are currently mid-table in the NCU Premier League but are capable of big-match performances - such as their defeat of Waringstown early in the season.
With CIYMS and Waringstown, the third big beast of Ulster cricket is Instonians. They have home advantage v Phoenix. This is an interesting game as Phoenix are a mercurial side capable of beating anyone on their day but prone to inconsistency. It may well depend on which Phoenix side turns up - they will certainly have to be at their best to beat their hosts.
In the last two games - Balbriggan take on CSNI [Stormont] and Pembroke v North Down [Comber]. Balbriggan will go into the match confident from a couple of wins yesterday in the Alan Murray - but it is still a big ask to try to make it three in a row. Pembroke are another side who can be up and down and their batting - less Andrew Balbirnie also away on Ireland duty - will have to perform well if they are to have any chance.
Pembroke: Lorcan Tucker, Fiachra Tucker, Theo Lawson, Paul Lawson, Jack Balbirnie, JJ Garth, Josh Little, Scott Ruttle, Alex Ridley, Alec Barrett, Ryan Hopkins.
Phoenix: Tom Anders [C], Richie Lawrence, Louis McDonough, Rory Anders, Adam Chester, Reinhardt Strydom, Ben White, Sine Tsotsa, James Maginnis, Brad Kneebone, Fletcher Coutts.
Balbriggan: Duane Harper [C], Ehtesham Ahmed, Connor Fletcher, Adrian Harper, Farooq Nasr, Timcen Maruma, Nathan Rooney, Adam Keefe, Kashif Ali, Abdul Samad, Zahid Manhood.
YMCA: Jack Tector [C], Oliver Gunning, Andrew Blair-White, Harry Tector, Bobby Gamble, Jarred Barnes, Padraic Flanagan, James Parkinson, Aviral Shukla, Tim Tector.