Cricket: Tough start for champions North Down
North Down will start their defence of the Premier League title with a home game against Lisburn on the last day of April.
Although only one Ireland fixture has been confirmed for next summer — the one-day international against England at Clontarf on August 25 — the provincial unions are unable to wait any longer and the NCU is the latest to release its fixture list.
The union has arranged fixtures every Saturday from April 30 to September 3, apart from two Saturdays in May when the first round of the Irish Cup and the second round of the Challenge Cup will be played.
The game at Comber, between two of last season’s top three teams, is the stand-out fixture on the opening day.
Elsewhere, runners-up Waringstown start out with a visit to Carrickfergus.
ClubTurf Ulster Cup first round: Waringstown v Coleraine,Carrickfergus v Strabane, CSNI v Brigade, Instonians (holders) v Bready, Limavady v Lisburn, Glendermott v CIYMS, Fox Lodge v Muckamore, Donemana v North Down.
Ulster Shield: Woodvale v Creevedonnell, Saintfield v Ardmore, Downpatrick v Ballyspallen, Derriaghy v Burndennett, Killyclooney v Cliftonville, The Nedd v Holywood, Sion Mills v Templepatrick, St Johnston v Millpark.
Opening league fixtures: April 30: Bangor v Instonians, Carrickfergus v Waringstown, CSNI v Ballymena, Muckamore v CIYMS, North Down v Lisburn. May 2: Bangor v Ballymena, Carrickfergus v CSN, Lisburn v Instonians, Muckamore v N Down, Waringstown v CIYMS. May 7: CIYMS v Bangor, Instonians v Waringstown, Lisburn v CSN, Ballymena v Muckmore, N Down v Carrickfergus.