The IBI Corporate Finance Leinster Senior League Cup kicks off this Saturday, April 20th, with fourteen clubs vying for provincial glory.
The clubs have been divided into two groups of seven and in this preview the focus is on Group B which contains Balbriggan, Clontarf, Leinster, Merrion, Pembroke, Rush and Terenure.
Each club plays six matches, three at home and three away, with the top two in the group qualifying for the semi-finals. There will be something to play for in every game however, as the top four from the group will play in the Cricket Leinster Premier League from June to September.
Rush who came so close to promotion last season, have an immediate chance to avenge that defeat as they travel to Observatory Lane to face Leinster on April 27th in their opening match of the competition.
“It’s what you want, the winter is long enough so the more games you can play early season the better,” said Rush opener Stephen Doheny.
“We feel we’ve a stronger team than in recent years, we’ve signed Jarred (Barnes from YMCA) and all of us are a year older. If we can pull off one upset that could get us fourth spot and a place in the Premier League for the second half of the season.
“You want to be in the top division, we’re fortunate to be given another opportunity after Leinster turned us over in the play-off so we’ve got to take that chance now.”
As for Leinster themselves, George Dockrell’s side open their campaign a week earlier when they travel to face the star-studded Pembroke team.
Dockrell knows exactly how tough it this season will be.
“It’s going to be incredibly competitive and playing each team once means there’s a lot more on each game,” he said.
“We know we need to hit the ground running and it will be important to play some good cricket early on.”
One player who may play for Pembroke on Saturday is the returning Barry McCarthy, although by his own admission, he’s not sure how much club cricket he’ll play this year.
“I’ve always kept an eye on Pembroke on a Saturday evening and how they’re getting on. We’ve got the guts of a strong team and we’ll be looking for silverware this season.
“In some ways I hope I don’t play too much club cricket this year as it means I’ll be going up the levels and playing plenty of representative and international matches.
The group stages run from April 20th to May 26th with the semi-finals on June 1st and the live-streamed final on June 8th at The Hills CC.