The first round draw for the Irish Senior Cup was held today in RSA announced their sponsorship of the premier club cricket competition in Ireland.

There are a number of intriguing ties down for decision with holders The Hills facing 2011 losing finalists and current NCU Senior Cup holders Instonians.

North County, the most successful team in the competition with five wins, face Brigade, who won the trophy in 1996 and 1999.

Last year's beaten finalists Merrion face a difficult away encounter at Coleraine, while Fox Lodge have a long journey to take on Cork Harlequins.

The other Munster representative, Cork County, must travel north to face Carrickfergus.

Ballymena, beaten finalists in 1998 await the outcome of the clash between Clontarf and 2002 winners Malahide, while Donemana, victors in 2000, play the winners in the preliminary tie between Rush and Terenure.

2009 winners Leinster have home advantage over three times winners North Down, while Pembroke entertain another three times winner, Limavady - the last North West team to win the cup back in 2004.

Lisburn face the challenge of YMCA, with both sides keen to rectify their poor record in the competition, both having failed to make a final, while 1985 winners Downpatrick are home to 2006 champions Railway Union.

Bonds Glen have a difficult challenge against three times champions Waringstown - the last of those wins came in 2011.

1998 winners Strabane have a tough encounter away at Civil Sevice North. In the other ties NCU league champions CIYMS are home to Glendermott, 1986 winners Phoenix travel to Eglinton, while beaten finalists in 1995 Bready play Lurgan, one of the most successful teams in the early days of the tournament, winning it three times, the last of which came in 1990.

34 teams will participate in the RSA Irish Senior Cup for the right to be called champions of Ireland. The competition, now in its 32nd year was formerly known as the Bob Kerr Irish Senior Cup, and in memory of the late Cricket Ireland President and Chairman, the two finalists in the RSA Irish Senior Cup will play off for the Bob Kerr Trophy.

The draw was conducted by Cricket Ireland President Arthur Vincent and Philip Smith, CEO, RSA Insurance Ireland. Also present were Mike Baumgart and Tyrone Kane from last year's finalists The Hills and Merrion.

Naseer Shaukat, captain of defending champions The Hills said after the draw: "Winning the competition last season was an incredible high point for The Hills. It's the 'Holy Grail' as far as Irish club cricket is concerned and the club will be doing its upmost to defend the trophy. We've been given a tough draw against Instonians, so I'm sure it'll be a fantastic match at Milverton."

Cricket Ireland Young Player of the Year Tyrone Kane from Merrion, who won the famous trophy in 2010, commented on the draw saying: "I know it was the best day in the club's history when they collected the trophy back in 2010. I was bitterly disappointed to miss out on the final last year as I stayed on in Australia following the Under 19 World Cup. I hope to make amends for that next season as the RSA Irish Senior Cup is the competition everybody wants to win and we as a club prioritise it every year. We've an excellent record in recent times and we want to continue that. We haven't been given an easy draw against Coleraine but there are no weak teams in this premier event."

Philip Smith, CEO, RSA Insurance Ireland said: "As sponsor, RSA Insurance is delighted to support the Irish Senior Cup. Today's draw has created some captivating clashes and set the tone for what will be another tremendous competition. No doubt everyone is eagerly awaiting the first round matches and while only one club can lift the trophy, we extend good wishes to all teams, their players and supporters."

The draw for the 2013 RSA National Cup was also carried out with holders Muckamore facing Balbriggan in a repeat of the final earlier this year.

The draws in full are as follows:

RSA Irish Senior Cup

  • Cork Harlequins v Fox Lodge    
  • Carrickfergus v Cork County
  • Malahide or Clontarf v Ballymena
  • Leinster v North Down
  • The Hills v Instonians
  • Pembroke v Limavady
  • North County v Brigade
  • Lisburn v YMCA
  • Downpatrick v Railway Union
  • CIYMS v Glendermott
  • CSNI v Strabane
  • Donemana v Rush or Terenure
  • Coleraine v Merrion
  • Eglinton v Phoenix
  • Bready v Lurgan
  • Bonds Glen v Waringstown

RSA National Cup

  • Connacht qualifier v Limerick Raiders
  • Ballaghadereen v Midleton
  • Munster qualifier v Co. Sligo
  • Co. Clare v Co. Galway
  • Rush/Terenure v Templepatrick
  • Mullingar v Cooke Collegians
  • Laois v Killyclooney
  • Civil Service Dublin v Newbuildings
  • Woodvale v Dundrum (LCU)
  • Muckamore v Balbriggan
  • Cliftonville v Sion Mills
  • Derriaghy v Ardmore
  • St Johnston v North Kildare
  • Drummond v Malahide or Clontarf
  • Burndennett v Laurevale
  • Creevedonnell v Dundrum (NCU)

The dates for the competition are as follows:

  • Round 1 - Saturday May 11 (reserve up to and including May 24)
  • Round 2 - Saturday June 8
  • Round 3 - Sunday July 7
  • Semi-final - Saturday August 3
  • RSA Irish Senior Cup Final - Saturday August 24 (reserve Sunday September 1)
  • RSA National Cup Final - Sunday August 25 (reserve Sunday September 1)