North County captain Eddie Richardson still believes his side are good enough to avoid any relegation worries, despite the huge loss of Ireland all-rounder John Mooney.
Richardson, a first cousin of Mooney, admitted even he didn’t know that the international was planning on leaving until it happened, on the eve of the new season, but he insists the shock departure has made the squad even more determined.
“It was a big surprise John leaving just two days before the season started, but we will keep going and it has got the team more together and the young lads know they have to step up,” said Richardson.
“John will, of course, be missed, especially his batting, but we have a good pro in Brendon Parchment, player of the year with his club in Australia.”
The Balrothery side are two from two after wins over Cork County, in the league, and more surprisingly, at Donemana in the Irish Cup last week, but Richardson knows the season starts in earnest today with a visit to Merrion in Leinster League Division One.
“Everybody is saying we have made a great start but this is the real test. Merrion, YM and Clontarf are the top teams, the rest of us are in transition,” he added. “But I still believe if we get off to a good start we can finish top four. I have no worries with the bowling, the young lads can bowl, the batting I’d be more worried about.”
Elsewhere, Clontarf host Cork County in a re-run of their Irish Cup game, YM make the short journey to Sydney Parade for the D4 derby against Pembroke and Malahide are at home to opening day winners Railway Union.
Meanwhile, John Anderson top scored with 61 as Leinster Lightning eased to a 53-run victory over the Northern Knights in a one-sided Hanley Energy InterPro T20 clash at Claremont Road.
Anderson struck four sixes in his 36-ball innings and received good support from fellow Ireland internationals Andrew Poynter (35) and Max Sorensen (36) as the home side posted 168-6 from 20 overs.
Sorensen followed up with a devastating spell of 2-16 from three overs, including the key wicket of Knights captain Andrew White, which prevented the Belfast-based side from mounting a serious challenge.
Eddie Richardson and World Cup hero Alex Cusack also took two wickets each and the Knights’ reply petered out on 115-8.
Meanwhile, Cricket Ireland have announced a three-match series of T20 internationals against old rivals Scotland at Bready, the home club of fast bowlers Boyd Rankin and Craig Young in Co Tyrone, to take place on June 18, 19 and 21.