Pembroke clash postponed due to trio's Irish involvement
While the remaining two games in the Twenty20 international series between Ireland and Zimbabwe take centre stage this weekend, there is a full programme of top-flight fixtures in both the North West and NCU tomorrow, and on Sunday the first three quarter-finals in the Irish Senior Cup are down for decision.
Following the abandonment of Wednesday's first T20 at Stormont, the forecast is much more promising for full games today - with the first bowl scheduled for 4pm - and on Sunday, with Ireland promising to use all 14 squad players across the two matches.
Pembroke have Andrew Balbirnie, Lorcan Tucker and Josh Little in the squad so requested the postponement of their Irish Cup game against Civil Service North, who would have been without Ireland's T20 captain Gary Wilson and club skipper James Kennedy.
The teams have agreed to put back the game 24 hours and it will now be played at Sydney Parade on Monday, with both at full strength.
CIYMS, however, travel to Dublin on Sunday to face a Leinster side without George Dockrell and Gareth Delany, and there is an all-NCU quarter-final at The Lawn between Waringstown and Instonians.
Carrickfergus have reached the last eight of the Irish Cup for the first time and, with home advantage, it can safely be said that their game against Phoenix is the biggest staged at Middle Road. A bumper crowd is expected.
Before the Irish Cup action, the five NCU teams have league games and, by a quirk of the fixture list, there are dress rehearsals for both of next weekend's Challenge Cup semi-finals.
Civil Service North host league leaders CIYMS - although the Cup tie will be at Belmont seven days later - but Muckamore are away to Instonians, as they are next Saturday.
While all four teams will pander the line that "we are taking one match at a time", there is no doubt which game Instonians would prefer to win.
The glory of playing in a Cup final must come second to preserving their Premier League place, and the Shaw's Bridge side desperately need a win in red-ball cricket.
Five games played, five losses is their unwanted record, and skipper Andrew White knows that tomorrow's game - against the team directly above them, one victory better off - is not only their best chance of victory so far but also a must-win.
Muckamore got off the mark with a surprise victory over Carrickfergus and they followed it up last week by posting 184 against CIYMS, the highest first innings score of the day in the Premier League. Their batsmen should be confident, while their Instonians counterparts must pick themselves up after being dismissed for 61 by Lisburn - the club's lowest total for 21 years since they were bowled out for 58 by Woodvale in 1998.
Instonians are without Shane Getkate, one of five NCU players on Ireland duty, but no club is missing more than one, so CSN and leaders CI meet each other without Wilson and Mark Adair involved.
Brigade are turning the Long's SuperValu title race into a procession, and while tomorrow's game is a dress rehearsal for the Senior Cup final in three weeks' time, Glendermott have won only three of their first eight league games and conceded 391 in the teams' first meeting in May.
Weekend fixtures: Tomorrow (12pm): Robinson Services Premier League: Carrickfergus v Lisburn (11am), Civil Service North v CIYMS, Instonians v Muckamore (11.30am), North Down v Waringstown.
Section One: Armagh v Downpatrick, Ballymena v Templepatrick, Bangor v Donaghcloney Mill, Derriaghy v Cregagh, Holywood v Woodvale. Sunday: Holywood v Downpatrick.
Section Three: Dunmurry v Larne.
Long's SuperValu Premiership: Brigade v Glendermott, Coleraine v Donemana, Eglinton v Ballyspallen, Strabane v Bready.
Championship: Bonds Glen v Ardmore, Fox Lodge v Killyclooney, St Johnston v Burndennett.
Sunday: Irish Cup quarter-finals (12.30pm): Carrickfergus v Phoenix, Waringstown v Instonians (12pm), Leinster v CIYMS.
National Cup quarter-finals (1.30pm): Ardmore v Balbriggan (1pm), Fox Lodge v Terenure, Railway Union v Templepatrick.
Robinson Services League Section Two: Cliftonville Academy v BISC (11am).