Cricket: Johnston and O'Brien in for Railway
Trent Johnston and Kevin O'Brien are named in the Railway Union side for their Bob Kerr Irish Cup semi-final against Fox Lodge at Ballymagorry today -- and their presence should ensure Leinster representation in the final for the ninth time in 10 years.
The two internationals have played in only one of Railway's first three games in the competition and they will miss next month's final -- provided they win today -- as they will be in Canada with the Ireland team. Johnston has already described the clash of dates as "unsatisfactory" but it will surely make the Ireland vice-captain even more determined to play well in today's match. An added boost for a full-strength Railway side sees Fox Lodge making do without star batsman Darryl Brown, their overseas professional who has returned 'injured' to South Africa, despite reports that he is now playing back home.
That will not concern Railway, however, as they aim to follow up their Leinster Senior Cup success with a second final appearance of the season. Although they lost to North County in the league last Monday, when only Conor Mullan provided any resistance in a disappointing batting performance, they should have too many big guns to see off the Foxes.
In the other semi-final, Merrion's task at Waringstown would appear to be more difficult, although they have a good recent record against NCU teams.
This year they have already beaten CIYMS and last season defeated Ballymena and North Down impressively by seven wickets on their last visit to the North. That day Dom Joyce scored a century, and someone from the Ballsbridge side may have to reach three figures again if they are to trouble a confident Waringstown side, who have been scoring freely on home soil this season.
The NCU defending joint-champions have already won three times in Leinster to reach this stage and, having claimed The Hills' scalp in the quarter-finals, will expect to reach their first Irish Cup final since 1992.