Most of the action in the NCU will not last long this weekend but it could hardly be more important.
Of the six Premier League games down for decision, all but one is over the minimum 20 overs distance — the second and final attempt to play the fixture — but all are relevant to the top of the table.
Indeed, defending champions North Down are playing on all three days this weekend as they play catch-up on leaders Waringstown. The Comber side start at Stormont this evening, against Civil Service North, meet CIYMS in a match switched to The Green tomorrow and then, in their most important game of the weekend, host Waringstown on Sunday.
If North Down win all three they will be just four points behind the Villagers, still with a game in hand and two to play.
However, the team the big two for the last few seasons must be wary off this time are Instonians. The cup holders are still on course for the league title and if Waringstown lose on Sunday they will join the men from The Lawn at the top with victories over Lisburn tomorrow, over the full 50 overs at Wallace Park, and at Woodvale on Sunday.
As Instonians have still to play Waringstown at The Lawn in a 20/20 game, after they meet relegation strugglers CIYMS, the Shaw’s Bridge side have a great chance of completing their first ever League and Challenge Cup double. Fears that the absence of professional Divan Van Wyk, now back home in South Africa, for the climax to the season might hinder Instonians’ chances were dispelled last Saturday when Rory McCann and John Stevenson compiled a club record partnership of 244 against Ballymena.
Ulster Bank Premier League: Today: Civil Service North v North Down (20/20 4pm).
Tomorrow: North Down v CIYMS (20/20, 1pm), Lisburn v Instonians (11.30am).
Sunday: Carrickfergus v Civil Service (20/20, noon), North Down v Waringstown (20/20, time tbc) Woodvale v Instonians (20/20, 1pm).
Section One (11.30am): Tomorrow: Dundrum v Laurelvale (20/20), Dunmurry v Lurgan (20/20). Sunday: Dunmurry v Muckamore (20/20), Cliftonville v Derriaghy (20/20)
Section Two: Today: Donacloney v Portadown (20/20 5pm). Tomorrow: Armagh v Donacloney, Drumaness v Portadown, Larne v Templepatrick, Saintfield v BISC. Sunday: Cregagh v Drumaness Larne v Academy, Templepatrick v BISC.
Sunday: Twenty20 Shield Final (2pm): Saintfield v Downpatrick (The Demesne).