After a truncated opening round of only 3 matches on April 24 the premier knockout competition for clubs under the Cricket Ireland umbrella gets going for real this Saturday when 8 NCU Premier League clubs join the fray in Round 2. North Down were the last NCU club to win the trophy 15 years ago in 1995 when they defeated Bready by 1 run in a memorable finale at the Green and most observers would expect the barren spell to continue given the overall strength of cricket in the LCU whose clubs have won 8 of the last 9 renewals and the current ambivalent approach to the Irish Cup by the NCU clubs.

 

Tie of the round sees the beaten finalists for the past two seasons Donemana pitching up at Belmont to face a buoyant CIYMS who, under fledging skipper Barry Cooper, have made an excellent start to 2010 and sit on top of the Premier Leage table. However the visitors, who lifted the Cup in 2000, are experienced and doughty cup competitors and I fancy them to progress to Round 2.

 

Also unbeaten in Premier Leaague action to date are Waringstown who travel south to face Old Belvedere who disposed of Downpatrick on the opening day. Former Irish international Kyle McCallan has made a dream start in his new role at the top of the order (he bowls as well!!) and I think the Villagers will maintain their unbeaten run.

 

North Down has an impressive record in this competition having won the trophy 3 times and they will be keen to resume winning ways after last week's disappointment at the Green. They also head to Dublin to play Pembroke at Oakhill and will be without leading batsman Johnny Terrett who is sidelined with a wrist injury but I think they will be too strong for the home side.

 

Joint Premier League champions last season Instonians also suffered defeat at the weekend when CSNI were too good for Eugene Moleon's men and the Old Boys will need to be at their best for their visit to Beechgrove where Brigade are a formidable outfit having won the Irish Cup in 1996 and 1999. This promises to be an enthralling encounter but I think the visitors can prevail.

 

Another club with an enviable record in this competition is Limavady, winners in 1994, 1997 and 2004, who travel to Wallace Park to face a Lisburn side who have made a shaky start to their league  campaign with 2 defeats in 3 matches. I fancy the compact venue to favour the visitors' aggressive brand of cricket and take them to reach Round 2.

 

Beaten finalists in 2007 The Hills are the visitors to Middle road where Carrick will be keen to begin a successful Cup run.. Also in Co. Antrim Ballymena entertain Fox Lodge while CSNI would appear to have a simple task at home against Cork County.

 

 

The full second round draw is:

  • Phoenix v Glendermott
  • Railway Union v Rush
  • Leinster v Terenure
  • Pembroke v North Down
  • North County v Eglinton
  • Brigade v Instonians
  • Bready v YMCA
  • Strabane v Merrion
  • Coleraine v Clontarf (9 May)
  • St Johnston v Malahide
  • Lisburn v Limavady
  • Civil Service North v Cork County
  • Carrickfergus v The Hills
  • CIYMS v Donemana
  • Ballymena v Fox Lodge
  • Old Belvedere v Waringstown

 

The third round of the Bob Kerr Irish Cup is down for decision on Saturday June 12.