Premier League champions CIYMS are already in pole position to defend their title following last week’s defeat for Waringstown, and this weekend they have home games to make progress in two cups.

First, the visitors tomorrow are Carrickfergus in the quarter-final of the Gallagher Challenge Cup. Then it is the mouth-watering last-eight clash in the Irish Senior Cup against Leinster League champions Merrion.

With three convincing wins over Carrick already, it would be easy to pencil CIYMS’ name in the NCU semi-final, but, before all roads lead to Belmont on Sunday, CI skipper Nigel Jones insists tomorrow’s tie is just as important.

“The Challenge Cup means a lot and, although we have beaten Carrick twice in the T20s and in the league, we will not take them for granted but make sure we get that win on the board,” he said.

“If we do that, we go in on Sunday full of confidence. We should be enjoying it, turning up relaxed and throwing the kitchen sink at Merrion.”

And Jones has an extra incentive for beating the Ballsbridge side, going back to his playing days with Civil Service North.

“I have played them four times down the years and have four narrow losses, so I feel the ledger is due to change for me, so hopefully I can get the win I’ve been hoping for but, most importantly, that CI are looking for, and the boys will be confident,” he said.

Jones expects to be without international Mark Adair for the weekend — he has a calf problem — while young pace bowler David Robinson is also away, but tomorrow sees the very welcome return to first-team duty after illness of Trevor Britton.

“Yes, it will be great to have Ted back. He adds calmness and experience, and having two left arm orthodox and a leg spinner, it gives us something different having an offie (off-spinner). So with four pace bowlers and four spinners, five of whom bat, it’s a nice balance,” said Jones.

So far it’s been a winning balance but the big test comes on Sunday with former internationals John Anderson and Dominick Joyce, still performing at the top of their game — they both scored big centuries in a stand of 277 against Leinster in the Premier League last Sunday — and Tyrone Kane, pushing for a regular place in the Ireland team, all turning out for Merrion.

CI got their weekend off to a winning start last night with a win over Waringstown to give them a home semi in the Lagan Valley Steels T20 Cup against Instonians, who confirmed second place in Group B with an exciting win over Civil Service North. Needing 19 to win from the last over, Andre Malan hit two sixes but CSN fell three runs short.