A perfectly-timed knock of 72* from opening batter Cecelia Joyce last night secured Merrion their spot in next week’s Sprint Coating’s Senior Cup Final. The former Irish international shared partnerships of 57 and 78 with Rachel Delaney and Celeste Raack respectively in a truly epic run chase for the Anglesea Road side.
Earlier in the evening, Leinster captain Laura Delany won the toss, and was nearly gleeful when she informed the umpires of her decision to bat first. She however found herself striding to the crease to face just the third ball of the innings, after Sophie MacMahon had been clean bowled by Niamh McNulty for a duck.
After Delany had taken 13 runs from the second over, bowled by Raack, Ellen Ridgeway became McNulty’s second victim, bowled for 5 with the score on 21. This meant Jenny Sparrow joined her skipper at the crease and their partnership was the backbone of Leinster’s innings. McNulty completed her 4 over spell, finishing with figures of 2/24, but once they had weathered her bowling, Leinster were able to start rotating and got the scoreboard moving along nicely.
Delany moved past 50 in the 10th over as Leinster were 69/2 at the halfway mark, with the Irish skipper completely dominating the innings at that stage. Herself and Sparrow then began to accelerate their pace, before the latter was finally run out for 28 out of a partnership of 113 in the 19th over.
Leinster’s captain had moved to 87 at the fall of that wicket, and took five more runs from the remainder of the 19th over. The 20th began with a three, before a single when on the third ball Isabel Saeed-Maguire was run out trying for a second to keep Delany on strike. Delany then hit ten runs from the final three balls of the innings to bring up a fantastic century and ultimately finish 106* from 65 deliveries as her side made a total of 156/4 in their 20 overs.
It was an excellent innings from Leinster in the face of a good bowling performance from Merrion on a pitch that was not easy to bat on when the ball was in the right areas, but both sides would have felt they were well in the contest at half time.
Merrion’s reply started relatively quietly, Sophie MacMahon’s first three overs from the Hazeldene end cost just 8 runs. The first over where things started to swing in the home side’s favour was the 6th, Ava Canning bowled the final over of the PowerPlay and saw openers Rachel Delaney and Cecelia Joyce trade boundaries as the over went for 11, closing out the opening 6 overs with the score 31/0.
Delaney took that as her cue to go, and began to find the boundary regularly for the next few overs, stroking her way to 36 out of a total of 57, before she mistimed an aerial drive off Katie Dillon and was caught by Ava Canning. Bringing Celeste Raack to the crease.
Joyce ensured Leinster couldn’t use the wicket as an opportunity to wrestle back momentum, as she took a further 9 runs from the remainder of the over, meaning at the halfway point Merrion had reached 66/1 and required a further 91 runs from 60 balls for victory.
Raack got straight into her work, gliding a pair of boundaries to the third man boundary off Katie Dillon’s bowling. Herself and Joyce moved the score along briskly, the latter bringing up their 50 partnership from just 29 balls in the 15th over with a boundary off Laura Delany’s bowling. That was the over, as it turned out, which ended up breaking the back of the remaining runs for Merrion.
MacMahon returned to bowl the 16th over, but when Joyce went up and over backward point to move beyond 50 there was a sense around the ground that this was her and Merrion’s night. Raack was dismissed for 36 from just 21 balls in the next over, LBW to Maria Kerrison, bringing their partnership of 78 to an end.
This brought Sadhbh Breslin to the crease which Leinster would have hoped would give them a chance of bowling some dot balls to the new batter, but from ball one she was able to get Joyce on strike. As she had done so many times in the innings so far, Joyce was then able to find boundaries at the most important of moments, and right on cue she sent two of the next four balls after Raack’s wicket to the rope.
That intervention meant just 12 runs were needed with 16 balls left in the innings, Joyce and Breslin rotated the strike until the penultimate ball of the 19th over. With three more needed to win, Joyce got down on one knee and slog-swept Laura Delany for 6 towards the pavilion to complete a fantastic run chase and send her side through to the final next Friday.
At Sydney Parade meanwhile there was no shortage of action in the other semi-final, as Pembroke defeated Clontarf by 135 runs to earn their place alongside Merrion for next week’s showpiece.
Having won the toss the home side elected to bat first, skipper Mary Waldron immediately set off like a house on fire, she dominated an opening stand of 78 with LouLou Little before the latter was dismissed for 12, bringing Shauna Kavanagh to the crease.
Waldron didn’t slow down as the pair shared a stand of 67 of which Kavanagh contributed 23. With the score on 145, the Pembroke captain was bowled by Alice Walsh for 94 from just 47 deliveries, including 15 boundaries and two maximums. Kavanagh was run out for 25 just four runs later, leaving Pembroke 149/3.
Any hopes Clontarf had of then restricting their score were quickly dashed, as Orla Prendergast began launching boundaries around the ground, she shared an unbroken stand of 56 with Eimear Mullen (13) on her way to 43* from just 18 deliveries, including 6 fours and 2 sixes. This meant Pembroke finished on 205/3 in their 20 overs.
Clontarf had a nightmare start with the bat, as Prendergast’s opening burst of three overs cost just one run, and delivered the wicket of Christina Coulter-Reilly, and from that point it was a massive uphill battle for the Castle Avenue side.
Laura Cullen’s 24* alongside Alice Walsh’s 18 from just 9 balls were the only scores of note, as there were two wickets for each of Mhairi Nicholl, Clíona Tucker and Kimli McDonald as Clontarf were all out for just 70 in the 17th over of the innings.
SPRINT COATINGS SENIOR CUP
At Anglesea Road
Leinster - 156/4, 20 overs (L Delany 106*, J Sparrow 28; N McNulty 2/24)
Merrion – 160/2, 18.5 overs (C Joyce 72*, R Delaney 36, C Raack 36)
by 8 wickets
At Sydney Parade
Pembroke – 205/3, 20 overs (M Waldron 94, O Prendergast 43*, S Kavanagh 25)
Clontarf – 70 all out, 16.3 overs (L Cullen 24*; M Nicholl 2/12, K McDonald 2/16, C Tucker 2/28)
by 135 runs
SPRINT COATINGS SENIOR CUP FINAL
Friday, July 23rd, 6pm – SYDNEY PARADE
MERRION CC VS PEMBROKE CC