ED JOYCE will make his debut for Leinster Lightning on May 1 when the Hanley Energy treble winners begin the defence of their three titles against the North West Warriors in a 50-over contest.

The 2017 Inter-Provincial Series ushers in a new dawn for Irish cricket, with the three-day Championship games being awarded first-class status and enhanced by the inclusion for the first time of established internationals Joyce and Niall O'Brien.

History will be made at Eglinton on May 30 when the Warriors host the Northern Knights in the very first domestic first-class Championship match, while Stormont will be the venue the following week for Lightning's first-class debut against the Knights.

The T20 Hanley Energy Trophy will be played on Friday evenings throughout the summer, with the first match on May 26, when the Warriors entertain Lightning at Bready.

A final decision on Munster's inclusion in the T20 competition will be taken by Cricket Ireland at their April Board meeting.

Ireland Head Coach John Bracewell welcomed the elevation of the series, with the limited overs games being awarded List-A status, in addition to the granting of first-class status for the Championship.

"This is a great time historically for Irish cricket and gives our players the opportunity to place a permanent mark on the game," said Bracewell. "It’s a significant milestone in the evolution of the domestic game and an important step towards professional cricket in Ireland."

Competition sponsors Hanley Energy are also excited about the upcoming series, with CEO Clive Gilmore speaking of his pride that the company are continuing their association with the competition for a third season.

"Hanley Energy are proud to sponsor for the third year running the 2017 Inter-Provincial Series," said Gilmore. "Being granted first-class status by ICC makes this one of the most historic events on the Irish cricket calendar.

"With a strong sense of optimism, I wish all participating teams every good wish for what is guaranteed to be an exciting Inter-Provincial Season."

HANLEY ENERGY INTER-PROVINCIAL SERIES FIXTURE LIST 2017

Mon 1 May IP50 Leinster Lightning vs North West Warriors The Hills 10:45am
Fri 26 May IP20 North West Warriors vs Leinster Lightning Bready 5pm
Mon 29 May IP50 North West Warriors vs Northern Knights Strabane 10:45am
Tue 30 May to Thu 1 Jun IPC North-West Warriors vs Northern Knights Eglinton 11am

Sun 4 Jun IP50 Northern Knights vs Leinster Lightning Downpatrick 10:45am
Mon 5 to Wed 7 Jun IPC Northern Knights vs Leinster Lightning Stormont 11am
Fri 9 Jun IP20 Leinster Lightning vs Northern Knights Merrion 5pm
Fri 16 Jun IP20 North West Warriors vs Northern Knights Strabane 5pm
Tue 20 to Thu 22 Jun IPC Leinster Lightning vs North West Warriors Oak Hill 11am
Fri 23 Jun IP20 Northern Knights vs Leinster Lightning Shaw’s Bridge 5pm

Sun 2 Jul IP50 North West Warriors vs Leinster Lightning Bready 10:45am
Fri 21 Jul IP20 Leinster Lightning vs North West Warriors Merrion 5pm

Tue 1 to Thu 3 Aug IPC Northern Knights vs North West Warriors Comber 11am
Sun 6 Aug IP50 Northern Knights vs North West Warriors Waringstown 10:45am
Fri 11 Aug IP20 Northern Knights vs North West Warriors Belmont 5pm
Wed 30 Aug to Fri 1 Sep IPC North West Warriors vs Leinster Lightning Bready 11am

Tue 5 to Thu 7 Sep IPC Leinster Lightning vs Northern Knights Clontarf 10:30am
Sun 10 Sep IP50 Leinster Lightning vs Northern Knights Leinster 10:15am