The Hills vs Clontarf
This weekend is the final round of 50 over fixtures for the Buakit Premier League and everything is still up for grabs in what should be a pulsating final few games.
Starting off in Milverton, where both The Hills and Clontarf will be desperate to get a vital win to further their chances of advancing to the final two spots. With Merrion already in the final, it has left four teams competing for one position, and with some cricket still to be played, it’s very undecided as to who might finish there.
The Hills have had a great few weeks and have won three on the bounce in recent weeks, with a win over Pembroke last weekend followed up by T20 wins against Leinster and YMCA. They had Sameer Dutt to thank for the YM victory, as the experienced all-rounder rescued their batting out of the abyss when looking certain to fall to a defeat to a young YM side. Murray Commins has really clicked in recent weeks and his runs are vitally important for this side and their potential prospects of advancing.
Clontarf are also well and truly in the hunt after they had a comprehensive victory against Phoenix last weekend. It was not all plain sailing though, as they were in a lot of trouble at 75-7 against that opponent after some excellent bowling early on in the innings. However, they were rescued by the young duo of John McNally and David Vincent, who both batted incredibly to get their side up to a good score.
McNally was immense, scoring 102 from just 98 deliveries, and bringing up his maiden senior ton in the process. He is certainly a name to look out for and is spearheading an exciting Clontarf youth academy at the moment. The wickets were split between their strong four prong seam attack of Granger, McCabe, Hand and Delany - which could well be the key in this match-up.
Merrion vs Pembroke
Unbeaten Merrion will host local rivals, Pembroke, in the next game of the Buakit Premier League at Anglesea Road.
Merrion are already through to the final and have been extremely impressive in the competition thus far with both bat and ball in hand. They have been led by Tom Stanton, who has been in very good form with the ball and is part of a very strong 3 man left arm spin attack. Amish Sidhu has taken a lot of wickets, while the introduction of Daniel Forkin in recent weeks has also helped massively.
With the bat, there have been a lot of contributions form the top of the order and few would argue that the pairing of Jack Carty, Stephen Doheny and John Anderson as their top 3 is the best in the division. Doheny and Anderson scored brilliant unbeaten centuries in the win over Malahide last weekend, and will be looking to back those performances up.
Pembroke have been a bit hot and cold and that could well be down to the lack of proper 50 over cricket that they have got to play this season. Their game against The Hills last weekend was their first in a while and they showed rusitiness and came out on the losing end of a tight clash. That was a crushing loss for their end of season targets.
The batting in games without Lorcan Tucker has looked a little bit suspect, and they will be hopeful of more runs from Theo Lawson and Fiachra Tucker. Added to this is Scott Ruttle, who has looked in good touch opening the batting and will be looking to convert one of these bright starts into a big score. Pembroke will have to win this game to keep their final aspirations going.
Leinster vs Phoenix
The game between Leinster and Phoenix in Rathmines this weekend is probably the biggest game of the weekend between both divisions as this will more than likely solve the question of which team will be relegated from the Buakit Premier League.
Both these sides have not had competitions to savour, and despite Leinster having Joey Carroll, who has been one of the best all-round performers in the competition, they have lacked significant depth in the rest of their team to bring them to results. They spurned a great opportunity for that first victory against YMCA on Saturday, before also being in a good position against The Hills in a T20 refix.
They have shaped like winning games of cricket though and perhaps come into this important game as favourites given that they have home advantage and will be looking to capitalise on their own conditions.
Phoenix have had a disappointing year also and find themselves right at the bottom of the table and yet to have won a game this year. The absence of George Dockrell in recent games has not aided the cause, as they have looked shy in both departments as a result.
They will have taken a lot of confidence from their effort with the ball against Clontarf, where Aaron Cawley and Theo Dempsey led the way in exceptional manner. They did not get the same backing from the batters on that occasion, and the runs of Tyrone Kane are becoming more and more crucial as these games tick by.
This should be a fascinating contest to see who comes out on top.
Malahide vs YMCA
The final 50 over game of the group stages of the Buakit Premier League comes between Malahide and YMCA.
Malahide will have to finish the season with a good burst to have a chance of getting through to the final, despite having a great start in this competition. A resounding defeat to Merrion last weekend would have been tough to task, after Arjun Muntha had starred with the bat in hand.
They have had some very solid performers throughout their side all year, with Mike and ALi Frost stamping down their quality on the side in recent weeks. There have also been excellent efforts from David O’Halloran and Jimmy Newland, who have produced in an all-round capacity this year.
This game is a bit of a dead rubber for YMCA, who look set for a mid table finish in this competition, which they won’t be unhappy with given the complications surrounding their ground and club this year. They got a great win against Leinster last weekend, against the odds, after being behind the game.
However, they then spurned a great chance of beating The Hills midweek, with a below strength side. That has left them having lost three games from five and with no chance of getting further in this competition. They will be trying to perform the role of party poopers in their last two games against Malahide and Pembroke.
North Kildare vs Balbriggan
North Kildare have been struggling a little bit for momentum in recent weeks, after what was a terrific start in this competition. They have had a lot of refixed games which hasn’t helped their cause and will need to finish the season brightly.
Their batting has suffered a bit in recent weeks, and they are becoming more and more dependent on the runs of Monil Patel, who has been in fine form for them this year. Danny Coad, who also made the journey from Leinster to North Kildare, has given him some decent support in that sphere.
Wasif Ali has been the star of the show for the last few weeks with the ball and they will be hoping he can once again be useful with the new ball in his hand.
Balbriggan are in top position in the Buakit Championship at the moment and will be hoping to continue that way with another win this weekend. They have been indebted to the all-round ability of Farooq Nasr, who led the way with a hundred and four wickets last weekend.
Added to the batting of Conor Fletcher and Greg Ford, they have managed to score a lot of runs in these games this season, and have been able to back it up with good displays with the ball in hand to defend these runs.
A win this weekend will secure a spot in the Buakit Championship final for Balbriggan.
North County vs Cork County
North County has been very hot and cold this year and it has depended greatly on what sort of mood they are in to figure out what result will come about for them. Their record of 2 wins, 3 defeats and a no result would be testament to that, with a lack of consistency being the main issue for this side.
However, they have a lot of quality within their side and will be looking to finish the season strong with a win at home to Cork, who have a similar record to them. The efforts of Andrew Sheridan are those that have led the way in the last few weeks, as he has contributed positively with bat and ball. There have also been wickets for Abdul Ghaffar in recent weeks with the new ball.
For Cork County, it was a case of what might have been as a slow start to this competition meant they were almost out of contention before battling back into it in the last few weeks. They have had an incredibly good record at their home ground in the Mardyke, but it’s been the away form in Dublin that has left a lot to be desired.
Rudolph Pollard has had an excellent all-round season, while there have been some very valuable knocks from the likes of Benjamin Marris and Alexander Gasper throughout the year as well. They have made it a good habit of posting scores at home before defending them doggedly.
This will be a good clash between two tightly matched sides, with bragging rights on the line more than anything.
Rush vs Co Galway
And the final 50 over group game of the year in the Buakit Championship comes from Rush, where they host Co Galway in another dead rubber affair between second last and last.
Rush will have been disappointed with their finishing position thus far in the division, with a really inconsistent round of fixtures adding to what had been an inconsistent T20 campaign. The lack of solidity in the batting lineup has cost them greatly, with Neil Rock being unable for many of the fixtures, and Nathan McGuire also missing out at times. Saadat Gull came to the party in last weekend’s win against North Kildare, but that was the first innings of note for a few weeks.
They should be finishing with a home win against Galway, with their bowling attack likely to cause the visitors plenty of problems.
Galway have unfortunately not procured a victory yet in this division but it will be an experience of great use for their whole side as they look to build even more as a club. They have shown some distinct signs of promise and some players can hold their heads high with the efforts they have put in. The batting has been their Achilles heel and apart from Sukhpal Singh, nobody has been able to cash in with regular enough runs to contribute. The bowling has been much better and shown great degrees of promise, with their side rarely going for much more than 220 in their bowling efforts in each innings. They will be hopeful of another good run-out to finish the season.