The surprise decision by national coach Phil Simmons to allow his Ireland squad for Sunday’s Friends Provident Trophy game against Hampshire to play for their clubs tomorrow adds spice to a number of the Bob Kerr Irish Senior Cup games.
In three of the second round games, internationals are on opposite sides with no fewer than three of the 13 involved in the clash at Castle Avenue when Clontarf host Carrickfergus.
Paul Stirling, makes his debut for his new NCU club, after his move from Cliftonville, will be up against Alex Cusack and Andrew Poynter in a game which has been switched south because of the state of the Middle Road ground.
Also in Dublin there is an intriguing clash between Jeremy Bray and Andrew White (pictured) when The Hills meet Instonians while the third confrontation pitches Phil Eaglestone and Reinhardt Strydom in direct opposition as Strabane face YMCA.
The game at Strabane Park should also feature three players can between them boast a remarkable 349 internationals caps between them with the North West side this year led by Ireland’s third most capped player, Peter Gillespie, while YMCA should travel with the player who is fourth in the all-time list, Alan Lewis and another former captain, Angus Dunlop, who stepped down in 2000 having scored 150 in his last international!
Lewis, by the way, who made his Ireland debut against the 1984 West Indians, is still racking up the runs when free of his rugby refereeing commitments. He scored 122 in YM’s first round game against Cork County.
The other members of the current Irish squad are spread out from Bready to Railway Union, all hoping to have another Irish Cup tie to look forward to on June 13, by which time the Ireland squad will have played another nine matches!
At least Kyle McCallan and James Hall will not have far to travel to Eglinton for Sunday’s FPT game. Waringstown are at Bready, the only NCU team in the North West actually, and John Mooney is halfway to his final destination this weekend for holders North County’s game at Bangor.
The other member of the Ireland squad in Belfast is Regan West who makes his seasonal club debut for Civil Service North in their game against Phoenix but facing the long trek from Dublin tomorrow night are wicket-keeper Fintan McAllister after Malahide’s attractive home game against Donemana and Kevin O’Brien who will turn out for Railway Union against Glendermott, in what could be one of the more one-sided second-round ties.