IT’S a huge game at Anglesea Road for Merrion and Pembroke as they bid to keep in touch with Premier League leaders The Hills as the shortened campaign enters the second half of the season.

With teams playing each other only once, Merrion not only have home advantage against their D4 rivals but Pembroke must play it without internationals Andrew Balbirnie and Lorcan Tucker.

Tyrone Kane, although he hasn’t played yet in the ongoing one-day international series against Zimbabwe, is also expected to be absent for Merrion today who start favourites to bounce back from their shock defeat by Malahide last week.

The Villagers are just a point behind the joint second place teams and they are looking to follow up today at Rush who have picked up only three points from their first three games.

The Hills, who are 20 points clear at the top, chase a fourth straight victory at Phoenix, who are likely to be without Simi Singh, another of the Ireland 14 in the one-day series who is hoping for a first start in tomorrow’s final ODI at Stormont.

Phoenix are sandwiched by YMCA and Leinster – just two points separate the three teams in the bottom half of the table – who meet today at Claremont Road, already in desperate of a second win to get into the plays-off after each team has played seven games.

The top two in the Championship meet at Castle Avenue with leaders Balbriggan already a win clear of Clontarf but, because of the bonus points, their lead is only 18 points.