Cup holders lead way as Leinster sides complete full house
Six games played, six games won. That was the record of Leinster teams in the first round of the Irish Cup as they again set the standard the other provincial unions are still trying to match.
The Hills and North County, who have won the trophy seven times between them in the last 14 years, were the most impressive winners, with the holders from Skerries getting past the dangerous North Down side and County beating Donemana in their own Co Tyrone backyard.
Captain Max Sorensen (49) and his predecessor, Naseer Shoukat (65) led The Hills' recovery after they slumped to 53 for four in a fifth-wicket stand of 64, dominated by Ireland's World Cup player Shoukat who then marshalled the tail to set the NCU side a victory target of 200.
Sorensen and Tomas Rooney Murphy took three wickets in five overs to reduce the visitors to 83 for five and only a last-wicket stand of 26 held up the holders who won by 40 runs.
North County's win was just as convincing with a second-wicket stand of 82 between Tomas Shiel and professional Brenton Parchment, who top-scored with 43, laying the foundation for a total of 220.
Donemana, the 2008 and 2009 finalists, put on 35 for the first wicket but then lost six wickets for four runs to leave County in control. An eighth-wicket partnership of 76 between captain Richard Kee and Richie McBrine threatened a sensational victory but Conor Shiel finished with five wickets and Eddie Richardson took the last to claim a 33 runs success.
Leinster had the biggest fright against National Cup holders Carrickfergus, with just seven runs between the teams in a low-scoring game at Rathmines and Cork County were on course for a huge upset against Clontarf, when they reduced the Castle Avenue side to 104 for eight, still 41 short of victory.
But Eoghan Delany played the captain's innings, finishing 36 not out, as last year's beaten finalists got home without further loss.
The only trouble YMCA had was getting their game at Woodvale started but, with both teams keen to play, the umpires agreed on a 30-overs match and an unbeaten 74 by Albert van der Merwe, from 51 balls, saw the league champions to a total of 225 for four and a 120 runs victory.
Pembroke, with the significant help of 84 not out and five wickets for Jono Cook, beat Eglinton by 24 runs and the Leinster sextet will be joined in this week's second-round draw by Merrion, Malahide and Railway Union whose games were all postponed.