Merrion vs Malahide
Merrion will host Malahide in one of the most eagerly awaited ties of the weekend as both sides are residing in and around the top of the table.
Merrion have had a great week with back to back victories in T20 refixed games against YMCA and The Hills respectively. The YMCA victory was brought about through an excellent team effort with the bat, with the majority of players contributing to an over par score of 150. It was the spinners that led the way in the reply, with Daniel Forkin taking an excellent four wicket haul.
Against The Hills, it was down to an excellent bowling display to restrict their opponent to just over 100. The wickets were shared around but it was the usual pretenders of Jack Carty, Max Sorenson and Tom Stanton leading the way with the ball. The runs were chased easily for only the loss of two wickets. They’ll be looking to cement their spot at the top of the table against Malahide.
Malahide on the other hand will come into this game after a defeat to Pemboke in a thrilling T20 game last Friday. This was their first defeat of the season in the competition and takes away from their 100% record that they had accrued thus far.
Their batting in the top order let them down slightly against Pembroke, and this left them behind the game from early on. It took the middle order duo of Ali Frost and Fintan McAllister to salvage the situation, and those two have done so to great effect in a couple of games already this year. This left them with a slightly below par score that was always going to be difficult to defend.
However, no run chase was going to be easy against this Malahide bowling attack and they made Pembroke work for every single one of their runs. The middle over bowling of Mike Frost and Keith Reynolds was the most fruitful, and Reynolds was excellent in taking his three wickets. They weren’t quite able to restrict Pembroke and they will now be anxious to bounce back in impressive style against this strong Merrion side.
KEY BATTLE: John Anderson vs James Newland
Leinster vs YMCA
Leinster have really struggled for momentum in this competition so far and after three completed games, they have yet to register a win. However, they will take some hope from the fact that they beat YMCA in a T20 game at Rathmines earlier this year. They will need to take that into this weekend’s game, as they badly need a win to lift themselves out of the relegation spots.
It has been a very familiar tale for Leinster so far this year, and it’s been a lack of runs with the bat in hand for the side that has contributed to their downfall. It is certainly not through a lack of quality, as there are plenty of good batters littered throughout the team - but they have just found it hard to find regular runs to threaten other sides. They were again in a spot of bother when they had been reduced to 71-5 against The Hills last week before rain intervened.
The positive for Leinster is the form that Joey Carroll is in with both the bat and the ball in hand. He was supplying a lone hand when they went off for rain last week, standing unbeaten of 35. This was after a very good all-round display against Pembroke the week previous. He will have to lead from the front if they are to return to winning ways.
YMCA will have been disappointed by a comprehensive defeat to Merrion in a midweek T20 game, where they never got going in the game. After conceding 150 with the ball, where there had been good spells from Rory Anders and Sam Streek, the batting reply was not one the side will look to dwell on for too long. After a few early wickets, there was a collapse of great proportions in the middle, as they succumbed to the spin of Forkin and Sidhu - with only Tim Tector offering resistance.
This is a good opportunity for YM to get back to winning ways, and they have been a bit all or nothing so far this year. They seem to be a side who benefit from batting first and letting their excellent bowling attack lead the way in defending runs. Bobby Gamble has been in particularly fine form with the new ball in hand, and paired with the Anders duo of Tom and Rory, alongside Mikey O’Reilly - they have no shortage of bowling options.
KEY BATTLE: Devender Ranolia vs Tim Tector
Phoenix vs Clontarf
Phoenix will be looking at this weekend as a chance to register their first victory in this competition, in what has been a tricky campaign thus far. They have no wins from four completed games so far, and despite having come very close on a couple of occasions, they have yet to register a victory.
It has not been a failure in either batting or bowling of recent weeks, but they have struggled to put a complete team performance together to register that pivotal victory. With the absence of George Dockrell bound to hurt, they will be very reliant on the runs of Tyrone Kane, who has returned to the side in the last few weeks. They also need runs from Jamie Grassi, with a return to form very likely to happen sooner rather than later for the former North County man.
The bowling has been martialled by Aaron Cawley in recent weeks, and they need their attack to back him up with tight spells. The leg-spin of Matt Lunson has provided some crucial wickets alongside the seam from Conor Sheil.
Clontarf will be seeing this as a chance to improve their record and will be keen to get back on the winning thread. Their last game was a defeat to Merrion and they will look to put that right with a good performance in this game.
In that Merrion effort, there was not much to write home about with the bat, but the efforts of John McNally were excellent and the Clontarf youngster backed that up scoring 99 for their 2s side the following week against Pembroke, and therefore is evidently in very good form.
Clontarf have a record of 1 win, 1 tie and 1 loss from their 3 completed games, but their side will be hopeful of pushing to the top of the table by the end of this campaign. It’s a side that definitely has the quality to go and do so, with a strong bowling line-up and a usually strong batting team as well. They go into this game as favourites and will be hopeful of producing a victory.
KEY BATTLE: Jamie Grassi vs Mick Granger
Pembroke vs The Hills
Pembroke return to their home ground and will be looking to cement themselves in the top half of the table with a win against The Hills, who have had an up and down campaign so far.
Pembroke came out on top of a crucial refix against Malahide last week, when prevailing by just two wickets after a really good display with the ball. They had reduced Malahide to a below par score, thanks in the main to a brilliant spell of 4-15 from Gavin Hoey, who has been excelling recently with his leg-spin bowling.
Hoey backed up that effort with a good opening stand with Danny Hogan, who was in imperious form with the bat, and the two broke the back of the run chase. There was a small wobble in the middle order, but it was left to Scott Ruttle and Paul Lawson to get them over the line in the end. They will be without their international players for the next few games, and will have to prove they can back up these performances without McCarthy and Tucker.
The Hills will be frustrated with their lack of completed games of late as for the second weekend in a row, they were taken off for weather when in the ascendancy, this time in Rathmines against Leinster. They will now have to play rearranged games against both of those sides, with results more up in the air in the Twenty Over format.
They were well beaten by Merrion midweek in another rearranged fixture, when not able to put enough runs on the board with the bat in hand. Despite some more middle order runs from the combination of Blignaut and Kavanagh, a score of 102 was never going to be enough. Their bowlers didn’t have anything to work with, but there were still some very tight spells from the spin duo of Tall and Dutt, with the latter taking an impressive 1-8 from his 4 overs. They will be looking forward to this return to the 50 over format and pushing for a win.
KEY BATTLE: Gavin Hoey vs Dylan Blignaut