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Carrick and Lisburn have golden chance to hit the summit

 

By Ian Callender

There are only three games in the NCU Premier League and Long's SuperValu Premiership today because of the one-day internationals in England.

Last year's top two in the NCU, Instonians and Waringstown, were due to play each other at The Lawn but that game has been put back to next Saturday - conveniently both teams have byes in the first round of the Irish Cup which takes place then - while Donemana players and supporters are also out in force in London so their home game against Ardmore has been rescheduled for next Sunday.

The absence of Waringstown allows the winners of today's game between Carrickfergus and Lisburn the chance to be the first outright leaders of the Premier League, although if CIYMS win at Muckamore they will share top billing.

The performances of Lisburn and Muckamore - two of the teams expected to be in the bottom half of the table - last week was certainly a wake-up call to the other top flight teams.

Muckamore, last year's Section One champions, forced Carrick, last season's Premier League runners-up, to scrape home by just one wicket while Lisburn showed they will be no push-overs, even without a significant contribution from their professional, with an impressive 48 runs victory over Civil Service North.

CSN are hosts in the other Premier League game today, at home to North Down who will be encouraged by getting so close, in defeat, to Waringstown last week.

In the North West, there is a new bonus points system this season, with 20 points for a victory and up to five available for the winners or losers, depending on the margin of victory/defeat.

Bready and Coleraine were the only teams to win maximum points on the opening day and, by coincidence, they meet today at Sandel Lodge, while Brigade, who picked up only 23 points from their five wickets victory against Fox Lodge - who get the other two - will be desperate to claim a full haul from their game at Drummond.

The Foxes are at Eglinton today, and as the home team are without their international skipper Stuart Thompson, they may have to be happy to claim more losing points, after picking up two at Donemana last week.

The best of the Instonians and Waringstown players who are not in England have been chosen in a strong Emerging Knights team to face a Leinster Under-23 side at Saintfield tomorrow (11am).

Captained by James Shannon, it includes Shane Getkate who has yet to sign for the Shaw's Bridge side but having watched Instonians from the boundary rope last weekend, rather than playing for his current club, Civil Service North, it seems only a matter of time before the two clubs agree on the transfer of the Ireland Wolves skipper.

Emerging Knights: J Shannon (capt), S Bunting, A Dennison, S Getkate, J Magee, J Metcalfe, J Mitchell, L Nelson, Nat Smith, Nik Smith, M Topping

Tomorrow's fixtures: Emerging Knights v Leinster A (Saintfield, 11am)

NCU Premier League (1pm): Carrickfergus v Lisburn, Civil Service North v North Down, Muckamore v CIYMS.

Section One: Armagh v Academy, Derriaghy v Woodvale, Donaghcloney Mill v Bangor, Downpatrick v Lurgan, Holywood v Armagh.

Section Two: BISC v Cregagh, Cooke Collegians v Templepatrick, Donaghadee v Ballymena, Dundrum v Laurelvale, Larne v Saintfield.

Section Three: Ards v Drumaness, Dungannon v Victoria, Monaghan v Dunmurry

Long's SuperValu Premiership: Coleraine v Bready, Drummond v Brigade, Eglinton v Fox Lodge.

Championship: Ballyspallen v Bond's Glen, Glendermott v Strabane, Killyclooney v Burndennett.

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