IT’S Irish Cup second round weekend but Cricket Leinster, in their wisdom, have chosen to play the third and fourth round of games in the Alan Murray (T20) Cup today ahead of Sunday’s main action.

Indeed, at 10.30 this morning, The Hills face Clontarf at Milverton in their first match of the day, 26 hours before the teams reconvene at Castle Avenue with a place in the last eight of the Irish Cup at stake.

There’s no doubt which is the more important match with The Hills, beaten finalists in last year’s Irish Cup final looking to lift the trophy for the third time in seven years. Clontarf won the first league meeting between the teams, but that was a low scoring affair back in April so nothing can be read into that result.

But having won their last four league games and with home advantage tomorrow, Clontarf will be favourites to reach the quarter-finals for the first time in three years.

Merrion are the Irish Cup specialists, with five final appearances in the last eight years but the league leaders will be grateful for home advantage tomorrow against the talented CIYMS side, captained by former Ireland international Nigel Jones, who have not lost in 50-over cricket since the opening day of the season.

The remaining five Leinster sides must all head to the NCU for tomorrow’s action and three of them without Ireland internationals, in Holland at the T20 Tri-series.

It makes already tricky ties even more difficult for Leinster, without George Dockrell at Carrickfergus, Pembroke, missing Andrew Balbirnie at North Down and Simi Singh could be a crucial absentee for YMCA when they take on holders and Premier League leaders Waringstown

Even at full strength, Phoenix will be underdogs at Instonians as will Balbriggan when they face Civil Service North who are unbeaten in six cup matches this season.