The busiest day of the cricket season will put Ulster clubs to the test against their peers in Leinster and Munster and, for the first time, the all-Ireland competition has been extended to second tier teams.
The RSA National Cup takes place tomorrow, simultaneously with the Irish Cup, sending Muckamore to Mullingar while Newbuildings, a late replacement for The Nedd, in their first year of senior cricket host Malahide at Donemana. Eglinton are the first team through to the second round of the competition as they have received a bye, after Oakhill pulled out because they could not raise a team and Dundrum and Rush will have a bowl-out over the phone tomorrow morning to decide who wins that tie as The Meadow is still under water. Cliftonville must also travel because they have no ground for their game against Balbriggan.
Zeeshan Ali, meanwhile, has arrived in Limavady and will make his first appearance of the season in the Irish Cup game at Terenure who have former Ireland international Andre Botha in their ranks. Also heading south are Bready and Donemana with the former underdogs against unbeaten The Hills but Donemana will be expected to beat Division Two side Pembroke.
Five North West teams have home advantage but it looks a huge task for last year’s Senior Two champions Creevedonnell against North County, for Glendermott against Leinster champions Railway Union and for Bonds Glen against the all-star cast of CIYMS.
Tomorrow’s fixtures: Bob Kerr Irish Senior Cup (12.30pm): In NCU: Ballymena v Merrion, Instonians v YMCA, Lisburn v Leinster, North Down v Fox Lodge, Waringstown v Strabane; In North West: Coleraine v Lurgan, Creevedonnell v North County, Glendermott v Railway Union, Bonds Glen v CIYMS, Brigade v Carrickfergus; In Leinster: Clontarf v Cork Harlequins, Pembroke v Donemana, Phoenix v Civil Service North, Terenure v Limavady, The Hills v Bready, Cork County v Derriaghy.
RSA National Cup (12.30pm): In NCU: Bangor v Sion Mills, Downpatrick v Drummond; In North West: Ardmore v Civil Service, Burndennett v Donacloney, Newbuildings v Malahide (at Donemana), St Johnston v Woodvale; In Leinster: Balbriggan v Cliftonville, Mullingar v Muckamore, North Kildare v Holywood, Old Belvedere v Killyclooney. Bowl-out: Dundrum v Rush.
Ulster Bank League Section Two (1pm): BISC v Drumaness, Cooke Collegians v Millpark, Laurelvale v Academy, Templepatrick v Academy. Postponed: Portadown v Saintfield.
Sunday: Ulster Bank Premier League (1pm): Carrickfergus v Instonians.