Balbriggan vs Rush
The first action from the Buakit Championship this week is the local clash between Balbriggan and Rush, with both sides looking to claim a really important victory in the context of this division.
For Balbriggan, they’ll be frustrated that they couldn’t get on the park last weekend against Galway, after what had been a disappointing one wicket defeat to Railway Union the weekend prior to that. Balbriggan have one of the best squads in this division and will be very hopeful of a productive season in the Championship, with a really strong batting line-up the key to their T20 success.
The batting is led by Conor Fletcher, who has featured in some games for the Lightning Bolts this year, and Greg Ford, who has been playing for the Munster Reds. Both of them have contributed big runs already this year and will be looking to add further runs in the coming weeks in these crucial ties against fellow top of the table sides. Their bowling has also been good with wickets for Dylan Lues in recent weeks, to add to the all-round efforts of Christopher DeFreitas this year.
Rush produced a serious effort to beat Cork County comprehensively by six wickets in their last game, and that form has been well advertised since by Cork beating Terenure. That was a big morale boosting victory for the side, with their star batsman Neil Rock and Nathan McGuire leading the way.
The value of these two interprovincial players to this Rush side can’t be understated, with their highly aggressive approach being able to take the game away from their opponents at any stage, especially at home.
They also have a well rounded seam bowling attack and the return of Daniel Coffey adds a lot of depth to that, and he led the way with a superb 6-23 from his overs against Cork, which proved to be the catalyst for their downfall and led Rush to such a comprehensive victory. They will be hopeful that Coffey can lead the way again with the ball in hand, while being backed up by a very solid attack.
KEY BATTLE: Chris De Freitas vs Neil Rock
Railway Union vs Co Galway
Railway Union have had a decent start to this competition and sit with a record of two wins from three games, and have a good chance of making it a third win with their weekend game at home to Co Galway.
Railway’s last game was a disappointing defeat to Terenure, when failing to chase 104 in a thrilling low-scoring encounter, and will want to rectify that by putting in a good performance on Saturday. This is an ideal opportunity to do so, and they will be looking for the experienced pair of Kenny Carroll and Glenn Querl to lead the way with the bat.
There has also been a return to the side of Kevin O’Brien, which is always a massive coup for the Park Avenue side, and they will hope that he can bring both solidity and runs to the middle order. Their bowling has been very strong thus far this year and the wickets of Liam McCarthy, bowling with the new ball have been particularly impressive.
As for Co Galway, they are still seeking their first win in this competition after falling to defeats against North Kildare and Terenure. Both those sides are near the top of the table and they have been performances of credit, so one should not discount them as a side.
The batting for Galway has been solid, if unspectacular, so far - with them posting only 180/8 from their 50 overs against Terenure. There were runs from Mitch Galav with 40* that day, at above a run a ball, and it should be interesting to see whether he is promoted higher up the order from this week onwards. There was also a solid knock from Ramnathpur and Mullen in previous games also.
The bowling unit has looked tidy and perhaps lacking a little bit of luck so far this year. Illaf Summit bowled a superb spell against Terenure, taking 2-27 from his 10 overs and giving his side real hope with early wickets. He will be the key to them getting into a sides batting order, and hope that the middle over bowlers such as Ramnathpur and Youzafai can have the desired effect.
KEY BATTLE: Kenny Carroll vs Iliff Sumit
Terenure vs North County
Terenure were one of only two teams to play last weekend as they took on Cork County Down in the Mardkye. They would have been disappointed with that effort, as they fell to a 69 run defeat, despite an excellent spell in the field and looking in a commanding position at half-way in the contest. It also broke their 100% record in this competition, but they still sit in a strong position of 3 wins from 4, and will be looking to get back on the horse this weekend.
The bowling effort was excellent down in Cork and Mark Thomas was to be praised for that, taking a wonderful five wicket hall including a wicket with the first ball of the game. He has now taken 9 wickets in his last two games since his return and is the spearhead of this attack. There has also been some very useful support from the likes of Khan, Safi and Sharland - who have all contributed tight spells and key wickets in the big games.
Unfortunately for Terenure, the batting never got going in the run chase down in Cork and they crumbled to the pressure. They might be a bit over reliant on the efforts of Seamus Lynch, who had scored a match winning 105* the previous week against Galway to bring them over the line. A lot of the batting seems dependant on the Munster Reds batter, but they have also had some useful contributions from Mick Cotter and Bhavic Tukrel in the middle order.
North County have been disappointing so far in this competition, falling to two big defeats at the hands of Railway and North Kildare, and will be very anxious to bounce back this weekend and get their campaign going.
North County are not the only team to have struggled with the bat since the return to 50 over cricket, but they will have been disappointed with their batting efforts in the two games, especially when crumbling to Muzamil Sherzad against North Kildare two weeks ago. They will need their top order, which possesses a lot of quality, to put their hands up and make the runs that are going to impact the results of fixtures.
The bowling unit has been strong so far and is led by captain, Eddie Richardson and John Mooney, who both have been in the wickets. However, it’s been the slow left arm of Cian Mulvaney that has been a surprise package, and he has been in the wickets in recent weeks for both the 1st and 2nd team - and will be looking to continue that progress.
KEY BATTLE: Bhavic Tukrel vs Eddie Richardson
North Kildare vs Cork County
The last action from the BuaKit Championship this weekend comes from the Maws, where North Kildare host Cork County. Both of these sides come into this game in good form so it will be very interesting to see who comes out on top.
North Kildare have surprised a few by starting their 50 over campaign so well, and it is great to see North Kildare cricket thriving in Cricket Leinster once again. They are 2 from 2 after comprehensive victories against Galway and North County and have excelled with both bat and ball in both of these games, which has not been common throughout the top 2 divisions.
The runs have been supplied in the main by Monil Patel and Waqar Azmat, who have both been very impressive since joining from Leinster and Clontarf respectively in the close season. They were also ably assisted by Danny Coad. Muzamil Sherzad has led the line with the ball and his 6-24 against North County was a spell that many won’t have been surprised by, with the young Irish u19 player turning into a very good bowler with the new ball in his hands and will provide a lot of problems for opposing players.
Cork County were the only side to get a win last weekend, and it was a needed one as well - as it kick-starts their season and gives them some needed momentum. It was the Harvey Wooten and Rudolph Pollard show against Terenure last weekend, with the exploits of these two players catapulting them to a 69 run win.
The batting from Cork County has been hit and miss so far this season and is quite reliant on the top 4 in the order to get runs. Pollard was the man to step up to the plate last weekend, with an important 58* and was backed up by Wooten in the middle order. There have also been runs from Durity and Marris in their previous games as well.
Wooten bowled a spectacular spell of 6-25 against Terenure to win them the game last weekend, with his haul including a hat-trick in the lower middle order. Pollard again was on hand for vital support, with his 3 wickets from the other end equally as important as they squeezed away at the Terenure batters. That should give Cork County a new lease of life and I would presume they will be a much different proposition this week then they were when visiting Dublin last time out two weeks ago.