Lee Nelson and Andrew Cowden are concerned about fixture list

Civil Service North skipper Andrew Cowden
Civil Service North skipper Andrew Cowden
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Lee Nelson and Andrew Cowden, the Waringstown and Civil Service North captains, are united in concern about a fixture list that is hampering their chances of reaching the last four of the Irish Cup.

Waringstown, the 2011 winners, travel to Clontarf on Sunday, the day after they have a hugely significant Ulster Bank Challenge Cup semi-final at Belmont against CIYMS.

The task looks barely easier for Civil Service North as they look to reach the semi-finals for the second time in three years. Cowden’s men also face a journey south to face Leinster following Saturday’s Challenge Cup last-four tie against Instonians at Stormont.

The circumstances aren’t ideal as the NCU duo bid to end, however, temporarily, Leinster’s domination of the leading knockout trophy in Ireland.

Nelson said: “Back to back games are not ideal. It’s quite poor organisation. Saturday is going to be mentally draining, playing in a cup semi-final, and then having to travel down to Dublin on Sunday morning.

“The only thing is that Clontarf are in the same boat. They have Cork County away on Saturday so it’s going to be tough for both sides and no team should have an advantage over the other. We will just have to get on with it and these are the kind of big games you want to be involved with. We will go out and enjoy the weekend.”

While Nelson doesn’t believe that a home draw gives Clontarf a decisive advantage - he points out that Dublin clubs’ record on their travels is just as formidable - Cowden does believe the Irish capital has increasingly become an unconquered frontier for the NCU.

“Statistically in the Irish Cup, results really do favour the home side, so it’s going to be more difficult going down there,” said Cowden. “They (Leinster) are in the quarter-finals for a reason, once you get to the quarter-finals and semi-finals there are no easy games. We will have to play good cricket to come away with a victory, but we have the belief that we can go down there and come back up with second semi-final in three years to look forward to.”

Cowden’s concern is about the impact of the interprovincial competitions on club cricket. Club matches have been put back to accommodate those matches and clashes like this weekend become unavoidable.

He said: “The interpros are only going to expand and they are going to have to look at the scheduling in the future. Clubs with very few interpro players are seeing their matches put back and it’s having an impact,” said Cowden.

For now, Waringstown have the particularly difficult assignment on Sunday, with Nelson identifying Andrew Poynter and Alex Cusack as two particularly formidable opponents in the Clontarf side.

“In clubs terms Poynts is probably the best player there is at the minute,” he said. “And every time you watch Cusack on the TV he is always the man Ireland throw the ball to when the pressure is on.

“They have also got wily campaigners like Joe Morrisey, who has been around a long time. That’s one advantage they have over our young players. Clontarf will have that experience and know-how and that is vital in this type of game.

“The positive thing is that the game is going to be played on a good pitch and it’s a proper cricket ground, and we will have a big support down with us.”

Waringstown are without James Hall, the opener, with a hamstring injury.