On Saturday September 7th, 2019, long before the spectre of COVID-19 reared its head, Pembroke defeated Merrion in the Premier League Grand Final at Anglesea Road to complete the senior double.
The closing line of that day’s report summed up the blissful ignorance of a great day’s cricket.
“What a fantastic game of cricket and a brilliant way to wrap up the Premier League season. A wonderful day’s entertainment in front of a huge crowd at Anglesea Road.”
A mere 679 days 50-over cricket returns to the domestic scene. Despite the trojan efforts of everyone involved in Cricket Leinster to get 20-over cricket played in 2020 and the cup competitions run off in the early part of 2021, there is no doubting the pure excitement building across the province at the return of longer-form cricket.
The first featured match of the season comes The Vineyard as The Hills host Malahide. Unfortunately, due to the ongoing restrictions there will be no scones or teas available for players and spectators alike, but a warm welcome is guaranteed in North Fingal.
Dylan Blignaut has shown promising signs throughout the Leinster Senior League Cup, while Mark Donegan and Cormac McLoughlin-Gavin will appreciate the extra time in the middle, while Murray Commins could provide an x-factor in the middle order.
With the ball, the ever-reliable Tomas Rooney Murphy, Luke Clinton and Sameer Dutt will be looking to bring through some young talents.
Malahide are a side full of entertainers, from openers Alan Reynolds and Arjun Muntha, through to vivacious captain Fintan McAlister the batting line-up could dominate The Hills attack. Throughout the early season, InterProvincial call-ups denied Malahide their strongest side on many occasions, however the experience gained by the likes of O’Halloran and the Frosts, allied to James Newland and Cameron Shoebridge could make The Villagers a force to be reckoned with.
KEY BATTLE: Murray Commins v David O’Halloran
Clontarf host YMCA at Castle Avenue 24 hours before they meet at the same venue in the semi-final of the Leinster Senior League Cup.
In the early season, Clontarf relied on the top three of Robert Forrest, former YM man PJ Moor and Eoghan Delany. A blend of aggression, shot-making, skill and stubbornness, they could set Clontarf up for some high scores if they can get starts. Meanwhile, the combination of the pace of David Delany and the new cult hero Fionn Hand, will trouble many a batting card.
For YMCA, they will be missing the international duo of Harry Tector and Curtis Campher. However, Mitchell Thompson in particular, Rory Anders and Tim Tector have been in good form during the ongoing Future Series and will be hoping to continue that for their club.
That’s before we mention Mikey O’Reilly and Cillian McDonnell, so Clontarf would underestimate YM at their peril.
KEY BATTLE: PJ Moor v Mikey O’Reilly
Phoenix host Pembroke in the Phoenix Park after not being able to play last weekend due to a COVID issue in the club. If they can get Jamie Grassi, Louis MacDonough and co firing, Aaron Cawley will appreciate having something to bowl at having shown his talents in the recent InterPro series.
Depending on the side they can field, it could be a tricky day for Phoenix as they come up against a Pembroke side reeling from having missed out on a League Cup semi-final spot last weekend. Despite the absence of the international quartet, Pembroke’s homegrown talents of Lawson’s, Tucker’s and JJ Garth, fresh from a century for the Lightning Bolts, should have too much for Phoenix who haven’t had any luck in 2021.
KEY BATTLE: Jamie Grassi v JJ Garth
The final game of the opening day sees Leinster host Merrion at Observatory Lane. Leinster have had Aviral Shukla, Devender Ranolia and Tristan de Beer all step up at various points this season with the ball, while Saqib Bahudar and Joey Carroll will be key wickets for the Dublin 4 men.
Merrion have a very settled side with the likes of John Anderson, Michael Lewis and Max Sorensen scoring runs while players like Amish Sidhu, Tom Stanton and James Hitchcock will chip in with valuable wickets.
KEY BATTLE: Joey Carroll v John Anderson
Helping with that sense of celebration and excitement at the start of the new Premier League season is the new title sponsor BUAKIT sportswear.
BUAKIT Cricket Leinster Premier League
Saturday July 17th, 12pm
Leinster v Merrion, Observatory Lane
Phoenix v Pembroke, Phoenix Park
Clontarf v YMCA, Castle Avenue
The Hills v Malahide, The Vineyard (Featured match)
BUA Sportswear is based in Maynooth, Co Kildare and offers an innovative and different way of kitting out your club teams offering custom-designed kits at wholesale prices.
It provides clubs with the opportunity to resell their kit to players at prices that the club decides, turning the kit into a significant source of revenue for the club.
Cricket Leinster is hugely appreciative of this support from BUA and encourages the cricket community and sports clubs in general to consider BUA when investing in new kit.