After a week off for the majority of sides last weekend, it’s the return of the BUAKit Premier League and Championship on Saturday. This week’s rounds have some tasty encounters throughout both divisions, with many teams trying to maintain their standards after big wins or sides trying to get back to winning ways after tough defeats in the first round.
Merrion vs YMCA
In a rematch of last week’s Sportshub Senior Cup Final, Merrion will be looking to complete a quick double over YMCA. The Anglesea Road side defeated YM by six runs last week to claim the trophy in the T20 format, and will now be looking to add 50 over success on top of that.
They have started well in this campaign as well, with a convincing win over Leinster in the first round of fixtures. Jack Carty has been in imperious form with the bat in recent weeks, and added to the firepower of John Anderson, Dom Joyce and Michael Lewis, they have a very strong batting line-up. However, it’s the return of Stephen Doheny to their side that is of most interest. The former Rush wicketkeeper-batsman has spent some time in the Irish bubble for their recent series vs South Africa and will be chomping at the bit to get back into the fold at Merrion.
Max Sorenson and Hugh Kennedy led the way with the ball in the Twenty20 format with seam on the ball, but it was more the impressive efforts of Amish Sidhu that have taken the praise. The slow left arm of Sidhu justified himself a call up to the Munster Reds this year, and his 3-17 from 10 overs against Leinster in the first round of fixtures has set a tone for what is to come.
YMCA on the other hand suffered a thrashing at the hands of Clontarf by nine wickets in the first round of games. Having been set fair on 28-0 and 50-1, there was a calamitous collapse which led to them being 84 all out. However, they have the availability of Irish trio Harry Tector, Simi Singh and Curtis Campher to look forward to and that should add plenty to the batting line up.
The bowling attack of YM has been extremely impressive in the shortest format, with a great deal of variety and balance. It has been led by the young left arm duo of Mike O’Reilly and Cillian McDonnell, to add to the more experienced men such as Bobby Gamble and the Anders brothers, Tom and Rory. YM will be looking to bounce back from that heavy Clontarf defeat and extract revenge on Merrion after last week’s final.
KEY BATTLE; Mikey O'Reilly vs Jack Carty
Malahide vs Leinster
Malahide got off to the best possible start in this competition with a comprehensive win against the Hills. That was no small part down to a magnificent third wicket stand between Callum Riches and Matt Ford. This led them to a massive score, and the Hills were never able to land a blow due to a very good attack possessed by the Village side.
They are led again by Fintan McAllister this year, who adds a great backbone to the middle order, alongside Alistair Frost, who is a very useful all-rounder. David O’Halloran has impressed many this year with his exploits for the Leinster Lightning, and he leads the attack alongside the canny bowling of James Newland, which makes for a very good opening partnership. The Frost brothers are good options with the ball as well, with Mike Frost’s slow left arm impressing many in recent IP20 Festivals.
Leinster were on the receiving end of a 107 run defeat to Merrion in their first round of games, after what had been a mixed season in the T20 format. It certainly looks like they are very dependent on runs from both Saqib Bahudur and Joey Carroll, who have provided the majority of the telling innings’ so far this year.
They have a very solid bowling unit though with both seam and spin. Bilal Azhar has been excellent again with the new ball in hand alongside the young Mark Tonge, who has shaped well. However, it’s the spin bowling that excels for the Rathmines team. They have options of Bahudur, Devender Ranolia and Aviral Shukla, all of whom have taken crucial wickets at different intervals this year. They come into this game as underdogs, but are more than capable of springing a surprise.
KEY BATTLE; Matt Ford vs Joey Carroll
Phoenix vs The Hills
Both Phoenix and The Hills will be desperate to avenge their opening round defeats in this competition and to try and pick up some valuable momentum into this part of the season.
Phoenix have had a disappointing season so far, but there have been more than enough reasons as to why that might be. There has been an unfortunate amount of injuries, international call-ups and T20 Festivals have meant the team has been very unsettled throughout the season. However, they will have George Dockrell back this weekend, who will be a massive all-round addition to the side that has been short on runs this year thus far. Nic Pretorious is also a handy addition for the side to have got back from Trinity.
Also Aaron Cawley will now be playing regularly, and he leads the attack with good gusto. Young players such as Theo Dempsey are important in backing up the efforts of Cawley with the ball in hand, and they put up a decent shift in their first game against Pembroke. If the batting starts to click for this Phoenix side, they will become a force to be reckoned with.
The Hills will have been shocked to have suffered a 187 run defeat to Malahide, especially after having them 3-2 early in the second over. They have been a mixed bag so far this year, but should be more at home in this format of the game. Their bowling unit is solid with Dylan Blignaut and Tomas Rooney Murphy leading the attack and the spin duo of Sameer Dutt and Jonathan Tall bowling well in tandem in the middle overs.
The top order of The Hills is excellent also, with runs likely to be coming from Cormac McLoughlin-Gavin, Mark Donegan and most importantly, Murray Commins. Commins has been in sparkling form all year for the Reds in the IP50 season, and therefore will be looking to kick on from those efforts.
KEY BATTLE; Aaron Cawley vs Murray Commins
Pembroke vs Clontarf
Pembroke started their 50 over campaign in the best possible way with a solid win against Phoenix. They were led by a brilliant hundred from their captain, Fiachra Tucker, who coming in at 4, completely changed the complexion of the game. JJ Garth has also been used in a more advanced role with the bat in hand in recent weeks, and he was also in the runs with a half century.
Pembroke have an embarrassment of riches available for selection now for the coming weeks as the Irish players have returned. Andy Balbirnie, Lorcan Tucker, Barry McCarthy and Josh Little are all potentially available this weekend, which is a massive boost for the side who is already very strong in a lot of positions. Pembroke were the All-Ireland and Premier League winners back in 2019 when this format was played in club cricket, and it’s not hard to understand why given the strength of their side.
Clontarf have an excellent side as well, which has a good balance of youth and experience under captain, Robert Forrest. They demolished YMCA in their first 50 over game at Castle Avenue, where it was the first change partnership of Fionn Hand and David Delany that did the most damage. However, the swing of Ben McCabe and aggression of Mick Granger with the new ball are handy tools to have, and give the attack a varied approach. The opening partnership of Robert Forrest and PJ Moor is one of the strongest in the division and Moor, who is seeking international cricket for Ireland in the coming years, will be desperate for big runs. Eoghan Delany is a solid backbone to this side, and will be more at home in this format of the game. Keep an eye out for the young duo of David Vincent and John McNally, who have forced their way into this strong side and will contribute useful middle-order runs throughout the season.
KEY BATTLE; Fiachra Tucker vs David Delany
BUAKIT PREMIER LEAGUE
MERRION VS YMCA, 12:00, ANGLESEA ROAD
MALAHIDE VS LEINSTER, 12:00, MALAHIDE
PHOENIX VS THE HILLS, 12:00, PHOENIX PARK
PEMBROKE VS CLONTARF, 12:00, SYDNEY PARADE