Waringstown face Railway challenge
Alistair Bushe (News Letter)
The tweet Niall O'Brien sent after the first round of the Irish Cup must have been designed to set hearts skipping a beat in Waringstown.
The Leicestershire and Ireland wicketkeeper-batsman had been due to play in the first round tie for Railway Union against Instonians in Dublin last month only for it to succumb to the weather.
And on the Sunday night after Railway beat Instonians in a bowl-out and Waringstown defeated Terenure to set up a second-round tie between the clubs, O'Brien announced that he "couldn't wait" to have a bat at The Lawn.
Had Waringstown studied the county fixture list they would quickly have discovered that Sunday's game clashes with the beginning of Leicestershire's County Championship game against Derbyshire.
But if Niall will definitely not be a star attraction at The Lawn, then his younger brother Kevin will be.
As Waringstown captain Lee Nelson readily admits, the scorer of THAT century against England in Bangalore retains the ability to win a game on his own and end the villagers' winning run stretching back a remarkable 13 matches.
"It has the potential to be a great day for the club. It's what the Irish Cup is about, playing against the big teams at home in front of a big crowd, these are the kind of days you want to be involved in as a player," said Nelson.
"When you have big players (like the O'Briens) it raises the bar even further. It would be good to see it happening even more regularly because it would make the competition even more of a spectacle than it already is."
Waringstown, who have David Dawson back, would do well not to underestimate some of Railway's lesser-known stars though. In the two years since they won Irish Cup in 2011 they have been undermined by spectacular batting collapses on their home ground. The semi-final against The Hills in 2012 was effectively over before it started as Naseer Shoukat ran through the top order and Merrion's less-heralded seamers did likewise in last year's quarter-final.
"I would say it's an even game, although we might be considered slight favourites because we're at home," Nelson continued. "Kevin is capable of winning a game at this level on his own but we will certainly not be fearing anyone.
"We've been on a great run and that's because we've been working hard and it's been paying off. We won't win every game we play this season but we'll give it a go in every single game we play."
North Down, the NCU's other survivors, will be favourites against Phoenix at The Green.
There is an all-North West tie with Strabane facing Championship St Johnston while Bready and Ardmore face tough trips to The Hills and Merrion respectively. Coleraine, the North West champions, host one of the tournament favourites, Dublin YMCA.
Fox Lodge meanwhile will hope to put a poor domestic start to the season behind them at home to the holders Clontarf.