Johnston and O'Brien boost Railway Union's Cup hopes
Trent Johnston and Kevin O'Brien have been included in the Railway Union team to face Instonians in the quarter-finals of the Bob Kerr Irish Cup today.
The Ireland internationals were expected to miss the Shaw's Bridge tie due of international commitments because of the delay in Cricket Ireland reaching a verdict in the abandoned Instonians v Limavady second-round tie.
Originally, Cricket Ireland announced that the tie would not be played until next Saturday -- when Johnston and O'Brien will be in Scotland preparing for the first game in the ODI Tri-Series against Scotland -- but this week they threw Limavady out of the competition for refusing to finish the match and then ruled that the North West club had no right of appeal.
So, with the agreement of both Railway and Instonians, who can now include international Andrew White, the quarter-final goes ahead, on schedule with the other three quarter-finals, today.
Johnston has top-scored for Railway in two of the last three Division One League games in which he has played, but, significantly, missed last week's defeat to Merrion.
O'Brien, now plying his trade at Gloucestershire -- he hit 119 off 52 balls last Sunday in a Twenty20 game -- is the big bonus for Railway. He flies in this morning ahead of the one-day games against Namibia in Belfast on Monday and Tuesday.
Merrion, who continued their good form with victory over Clontarf last Sunday, will be confident of continuing their defence of the Irish Cup today with a home victory over Phoenix, the league's basement club.
Pembroke are just one place off the bottom of the table and may need Ryan Hopkins and Theo Lawson to repeat their big opening-partnership century in the previous round if they are to overcome the challenge of Brigade at Sydney Parade.
At least they have home advantage. Leinster, the 2009 winners, have no such comfort and for the second successive round must head north, this time to Waringstown, who scored 392 for the second time this season in their Premier League game last Sunday against NCU champions North Down. South African Obus Pienaar scored 164 and Ireland international James Hall 139 not out.
Meanwhile, Cricket Ireland have confirmed that a Limavady player has been suspended from all cricket for 12 months after finding him guilty of a series of counts of misconduct in the match against Instonians. The club have already announced he will appeal.