Round Four of the Bank of Ireland U-17 Shane Horgan Cup takes place on Tuesday afternoon with another doubleheader at Energia Park.

The competition, of course delayed by Covid-19, has been a useful instrument in assessing players ahead of the invitation to join next summer’s extended squad for the Leinster Clubs.

North East v North Midlands – Energia Park – Tuesday, 4 December (KO 1pm)

There is an expectation that a rising tide lifts all boats. In other words, the better an area does, the greater the representation at the interprovincial standard.

In that regard, the North-East had a chance to look at the level of play from a bye week in the first round. They responded with a workmanlike win over Metro (17-5) first time out.

This was followed by a ramp-up in intensity to edge out South-East (27-24) in the third round as a number of players put their hands up.

The running game of out-half Tadgh Duff is impressive, his footwork and acceleration through gaps a feature of an unorthodox game from that playmaking position and centre Luke Carley has an edge to his game.

Up front, loose forwards Oisin Cunningham, an explosive carrier with pace, and No 8 Lincoln de Year take the eye. Prop Oisin McNamara is another sound prospect. But, their lock Mahon Ronan misses out with a knee injury.

The North Midlands opened with a loss (17-5) to Midlands, sat out round two and bounced back with a one-point win over Metro (20-19).

It really would be a feather in their cap were they to unseat the North-East, making it a more than respectable two-out-of-three strike rate.

They might just have the weapons to make it happen as centres Sean Tighe and James Harris carry effectively, even through contact.

Out-half Lochlann Cawley has a knack for keeping his forwards on the front-foot and wing PJ Larkin is a dangerous attacker.

The ability to keep North-East’s back row in check could be decisive in that the North Midlands could be without key contributors in Padraic Cullen and James Walsh.

North-East Squad- Oisin Hegarty (Skerries); Dan Holmes (Boyne), Tim Deering (Skerries), Luke Carley (Boyne), Jamie Byrne (Boyne); Tadgh Duff (Boyne), Paddy Kelly (Skerries); Oisin McNamara (Balbriggan), Morgan O’Reilly (Boyne), Jude Woods (Boyne); Cathal Halpenny (Ashbourne), Enda O’Brien (Ashbourne); Oisin Cunningham (Ratoath), Sean Price (Skerries), Lincoln De Year (Boyne).

Replacements: James Canning (Dundalk); Oramam Daurezini (Boyne), Sean Lambe (Ashbourne), Karl Hartfiel (Balbriggan), Alex Hermitage (Boyne), Cathal Magee (Balbriggan), Dan Colgan (Ratoath).

North Midlands Squad – Forwards: Oisin Bannon (Cill Dara), Jake Andrews (Portlaoise), Scott O’Keefe (Newbridge), Dylan O’Sullivan (Clondalkin), Harry Dunne (Naas), Eanna Duffy (Naas), Sean Lavin (North Kildare), Sean Walshe (North Kildare), Eoin Clarke (Cill Dara), David Moore (North Kildare) Nathan Yap (Clane), Jack Dempsey (Clane), Tom Dunne (Cill Dara).

Backs: Dylan Kelly (Portlaoise), Lochlann Cawley (Naas), Jake Darcy (Portlaoise), James Harris (Athy), Darragh Farrell (Athy), James Corcoran (Athy), Sean Tighe (Clane), PJ Larkin (Portlaoise), Ola McCullough (Cill Dara), Sam Ryan Cill Dara), Dylan O’Keefe (Newbridge).

Midlands v Metro – Energia Park – Tuesday, 4 December (KO 3pm)

The Midlands had plenty of time to digest the meaning of opening up with a solid success against North Midlands (17-5) before failing to fire many shots in defeat to South East (24-5) in round two.

Maybe, the fact the region is drawn mostly from two clubs, Tullamore and Mullingar, points towards an advantage in cohesion in the first game.

Either way, this is an opportunity to leave a sweet taste in the mouth for the likes of Conor Moore, a centre with an eye for the ball in attack and defence.

The quick feet of flanker Jack Boyan and the impact of No 8 Daragh Brennan, a natural off-loader, are other strings to their bow.

Certainly, the results for Metro have not been what coach Stephen Maher would have wanted to see.

However, they did start out against on-point South-East (37-19), then losing to unbeaten North-East (17-5) and going closest to that breakthrough victory in a one-point loss to North Midlands.

Maher has been encouraged by the improvement in performance as players have gotten to know the tendencies of those around them.

Given the three losses, the positivity that comes from a ‘W’ should be more important to Maher’s committed bunch.

The big picture means this is another chance for individuals to show the Leinster Youths they are worthy of playing at the next level up.

No 8 Shane Moore almost made the provincial cut last season. Loosehead Gordon Tracey’s game has come on a tonne due to his application.

In the backs, Mark Cleary is a threat from full-back and wing Adam Gray has the speed to cause defenders trouble.

Midlands squad – Forwards: James Buckley (Tullamore), Jack Hannon (Edenderry), Tom Svienty (Mullingar), Ciaran Crowley (Tullamore), Stefan Pedukic (Mullingar), Jack Boyan (Mullingar), Sam Mills (Longford), Darragh Brennan (Tullamore), Patrick Dooley (Birr), Jack Levingston (Wilson’s Hospital), Jake Kenny (Tullamore), Artur Lazor (Mullingar).

Backs: Peter Feely (Tullamore), Rory Allen (Edenderry), Simon Drea (Tullamore), Conor Moore (Mullingar), Jack Burns (Tullamore), Jack Bates (Tullamore), Jude Audd (Mullingar), Sean Brennan (Tullamore), Dean Broderick (Midland Warriors), Páidí Farrell (Tullamore), Páidí Gorman (Edenderry).

Metro – Mark Cleary (MU Barnhall); Adam Gray (MU Barnhall), Edgar Kucinkas (MU Barnhall), Gavin Keane (MU Barnhall), Remi Pruvost (Clontarf); Will Saunders (DLSP), Cathal MacGearailt (Wanderers); Gordon Tracey (St Mary’s College), Sean Kearney (MU Barnhall), Reuben McCormack (MU Barnhall); Hugh Donegan (MU Barnhall), Guilhermo Neto (Clontarf); Shane Stokes (DLSP), Ethan Fennell (MU Barnhall), Shane Moore (Coolmine).

Replacements: Joshua Boyens (MU Barnhall), Luke Ingle (Suttonians), Conor Toomey (Clontarf), Conor Horan (Seapoint), Ruaidhri Smith (MU Barnhall), Hugh Dummer (Suttonians).