Sunday 25 February 2018

Unbeaten Hills spearheading Leinster assault on Senior Cup

Ian Callender

LEINSTER clubs have a great chance to confirm their stranglehold on the RSA Irish Senior Cup in the second round today, with no fewer than five of the eight games being played in the Dublin area.

With teams in direct opposition, they are assured of three quarter-finalists, while last year's finalists, The Hills and Merrion, are favourites to progress in home games against CIYMS and North Down.

CIYMS are not nearly as strong as the side that won the NCU Premier League last season after losing a number of big names, including former Ireland internationals Jeremy Bray and Peter Connell, and they have won only one of their first three league games this season; they also crashed out of the Challenge Cup last Sunday, bowled out for 61 by Instonians.

The Hills, by contrast, have a 100pc record and captain Naseer Shoukat and Darryl Calder put on 200 in their big Senior Cup win over Balbriggan.

North Down should give Merrion a tougher game at Anglesea Road, although they surrendered their seven-match winning start to Waringstown last Saturday, and their win over Leinster in the first round was their first in Dublin for four years.

Pick of the all-Leinster games should be Railway Union against North County, the five-times winners of the cup.

Pat Collins is the player of the season so far, topping both the bowling and batting averages and if his phenomenal form continues even North County, with Eddie Richardson, Adam Coughlan and John Mooney in top form, will be under pressure to continue their impressive record in the competition.

Clontarf will be big favourites to repeat their Senior Cup win over Phoenix last week and YMCA, even without the injured Trent Johnston, should be too strong for Pembroke in the D4 derby at Claremont Road.

* Australia captain Michael Clarke has been ruled out of his side's first Champions Trophy group match against England at Edgbaston today. Clarke recently suffered a lower back injury and, while he is said to be making progress, has yet to return to training.

Irish Independent

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