PEMBROKE host the match of the day in the first round of the Irish Senior Cup today when they welcome North West Senior Cup holders Brigade to Sydney Parade.
Only defending league champions Merrion – who as one of last year’s semi-finalists get a bye into the second round - have got the better of the D4 side this season but this promises to be a major test against the strongest team in their union.
Two other Leinster sides were due to be at home to North West opposition in the regionalised draw which guaranteed each union at least three home games. The Hills should be too strong for Ballyspallen who won a play-off to claim their Premier League place this season, but Phoenix’s game with Eglinton has been postponed followed the death yesterday of former Eglinton player and umpire Alan Dunn.
Malahide also have home advantage against Muckamore, who have lost all four league games, and will be aiming to avenge their one wicket defeat by the NCU side at the same stage and venue last year.
North County have drawn the most difficult assignment, with an away game against NCU Premier League champions CIYMS while YMCA head in the same direction, to face Carrickfergus.
Cork County head to Belfast, to face Instonians, captained by former Ireland international Andrew White while Rush also have a long journey, north west to Glendermott, but they can travel with a confidence against a team which has yet to win this season.
It’s also a big day on Sunday for four Leinster clubs with the last two Premier League places up for grabs in the final round of group games in the League Cup. If YMCA win at Railway Union, they will complete the top four in Group A, behind The Hills, Phoenix and Malahide, but defeat would let in North County if they beat Dublin University at Balrothery.
In Group B, it is a head to head at Kenure between Rush and Balbriggan for the final place in the top flight alongside defending champions Merrion, Pembroke and Leinster.