This weekend sees the 4th round of fixtures in the SportsHub Senior League Cup taking place, with several teams carrying good momentum out of last weekend’s rain affected double header of fixtures. Currently Merrion, Clontarf, Dublin University and Pembroke occupy the prospective semi-final stages, however that could all change tomorrow as we will move past the halfway point in the group stage.
Kicking off this weekend’s preview in Rathmines, where Leinster welcome YMCA to Observatory Lane. The home side pulled a massive result out of the fire last weekend, as a brilliant unbroken 8th wicket stand between Mark Tonge and Karthikeyan Jawahar who made 27 and 28 respectively saw them to victory in The Mardyke. With YMCA unfortunately suffering two No Result matches in the same weekend, their wait for a chance to bounce back from an opening day shock at the hands of Balbriggan was made yet more agonising.
The away side are unchanged from the side they were due to field last Monday, and can look to a few in form IP players for runs. Tim and Harry Tector were the two main batting protagonists for the Leinster Lightning in Tuesday’s win over the Warriors, and with the pair in good form going into the weekend, will hope to carry that back over into the club scene. Curtis Campher was also in the runs last Saturday before the rain intervened in Merrion, so YM’s middle order looks a real tough nut to crack. With the ball, Tom Anders’ return will give them good control as an extra seam option alongside his brother Rory and underage international Reuben Wilson. Harry Tector’s spell for the Lightning on Tuesday was superb and with Mitchell Thompson also in the side, the visitors are not short of spinning options.
Leinster’s batting did anything but fire on Monday in Cork, and the fact they still ground out a win will be a huge boost to the side. Their 3/4/5 of Joey Carroll, Gareth Delany and Saqib Bahadur are full of runs and back in their own ground this weekend should be able to help the home side post a competitive total. With the ball, Delany’s spell in Rush was stand out in terms of figures in that ground, whilst last time out Mark Tonge showed what he’s about taking the first three wickets to fall and finishing as the pick of the bowlers.
With Leinster relying heavily on their middle order to contribute bulk runs in their batting efforts, it’s more than likely we’ll see two team-mates involved in the most important match up this weekend, as Curtis Campher’s middle overs bowling will aim to lower Gareth Delany’s usually immense strike rate.
KEY BATTLE: Gareth Delany vs Curtis Campher
Up next, we have cricket in The Mardyke for the second weekend in a row, as North Kildare are the visitors to Cork County, both sides remain winless entering the third weekend of the season, and both will likely see it as a bit of an opportunity to kick-start their respective seasons.
The away side are in a way quite lucky that the differing dynamic of travelling to Cork doesn’t quite hit them as hard as it does with other sides in the competition, with several of their side also competing in the Munster league, the commute to the South-West of the country is no great novelty to the likes of Monil Patel and Murtaza Sidiqi. They came agonisingly close to taking the huge scalp of Clontarf last weekend, but a final wicket stand of 33 from their visitors saw the home side to an extent snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, after the opening burst of Leinster Lightning’s Muzamil Sherzad had seen ‘Tarf reduced to 30/5. His bowling will need to be on song against the Leesiders this weekend as the spearhead of his side’s attack.
Cork County on the other hand will be absolutely reeling having also allowed a side who were under the pump out of their grasp last weekend. Byron McDonough’s return to bowling this season is a welcome addition to the side and he bowled an excellent spell last weekend taking 2/19, whilst Sukphal Singh put his experience to good use bowling a similarly economical opening spell. If that pair are hitting the spot again tomorrow, they will be putting NK’s top order under similar levels of pressure which has seen them struggle in the past. With the bat, Singh delivered last weekend, but the home side will feel they were terribly unlucky to see each of their 3/4/5 axis dismissed without scoring, and think that surely something like that cannot happen two weeks in a row, not least star man Cormac Hassett being run out without facing a single delivery.
That man Hassett will be hoping to put a marker down after a disappointing and unlucky dismissal last weekend, batting at number 4 he’s exactly the man who NK will be hoping Muzamil Sherzad can get a look at early in the piece and create a good battle between the two sides as they both search for a first win.
KEY BATTLE: Cormac Hassett vs Muzamil Sherzad
Next up, Clontarf are on the road to face Balbriggan in a game where both sides are at completely different ends of the momentum scale. The away side sit second in the table after grinding out a superb victory on Monday evening, whilst Balbriggan now lie 5th after being brutalised by a clinical Merrion performance last weekend.
‘Tarf travel full in the knowledge that they have match winners throughout their side, even last weekend when their top 5 could muster just 27 runs between them, number 6 David Delany produced a simply incredible 86* to drag his team from the mire to a remarkable one wicket victory. The three Munster Reds representatives in their side add an incredible level of depth to the side with both bat and ball. The batting line-up Clontarf have is arguably matched in terms of quality and depth by Merrion, and after seeing them be successful last time out in Balbriggan, will likely take quite a bit of confidence from that. Mick Granger and David Delany showed their worth as an opening partnership with the ball again last weekend, and with Ben McCabe supporting well, taking the prize wicket of NK’s main man Monil Patel, the seam bowling line-up looks as strong as it could be, without even mentioning Fionn Hand who took two wickets himself.
Balbriggan will be reeling after suffering a heavy defeat last weekend, and no doubt there’ll be a tinge of disappointment among the side given they were unable to back up the previous week’s victory against similarly strong opposition. Their captain Greg Ford is in excellent form at the moment in spite of being dismissed by fellow Lightning player Jack Carty in Monday’s game, whilst the lower order runs and the manner in which they were scored by Dylan Lues will be encouraging to his captain as well. Unfortunately after moderate opening spells, the Brig’s bowlers, with the exception of Chris de Freitas, struggled to keep the run rate under control and will need to bounce back, led by overseas player Ryan Hadley if they are to get stuck into Clontarf’s long batting line-up.
Given ‘Tarf’s early collapse last time out, and Brig’s main strike bowler being Ryan Hadley at the top of their innings, the away side will be looking to PJ Moor to carry some of his midweek Munster Reds form into the club game this weekend and get his side off to a solid start.
KEY BATTLE: Ryan Hadley vs PJ Moor
The final game in Group A sees Merrion hosting Rush in a tie which could see the home side build on Monday’s full points hammering of Balbriggan, and put some daylight between themselves and the sides from third down in the standings. Rush on the other hand currently sit in third and will be hoping to claw back some ground on Merrion and Clontarf.
Merrion welcome back Michael Lewis to an already stacked batting line-up, which granted is yet to be tested in any significant way as yet this season. Jack Carty has not yet been dismissed, whilst Stephen Doheny was sure not to give away his wicket last weekend having missed out in the opening game. With John Anderson yet to even take guard this season, there will no doubt be a few members of the side itching to get stuck into grafting out some runs this weekend. The bowlers on the other hand have all had an excellent start to the season, all bar one of their side who took to the bowling crease on Monday took a wicket in an excellent all-round bowling performance.
Rush visit Anglesea Road having suffered two washouts over the Bank Holiday weekend, and will be itching to get back out on the field, though they are still without their talismanic skipper Neil Rock. Daniel Coffey is currently deputising for him and but will have to make do without the services of Allan Eastwood this weekend, who is replaced by Alex Neary. Llew Johnson has yet to get a chance to build on his week one heroics, and will relish the chance to sink his teeth back into the game on Merrion’s generally batter friendly wickets.
Given they are missing one of their main bowlers this weekend, Rush will need to get off to a strong start if they are to keep Merrion’s line-up under some level of control. As a result skipper Daniel Coffey’s opening spell will be a vital part of the game, if he can finally dismiss Jack Carty, it could give Rush a look in at a Merrion middle order that might be a touch rusty with very little balls faced thus far in the season.
KEY BATTLE: Jack Carty vs Daniel Coffey
In Group B, proceedings kick off with Pembroke hosting The Hills. With the hosts now second in the table having delivered a dramatic final ball victory last weekend, they face off with the Skerries side who will be keen to uphold what is a decent record against the Sandymount side of late.
Pembroke are without the services of Josh Little and Piyush Sharma this weekend when compared with last week’s side, with the latter having taken two extremely important wickets of Malcolm Nofal and Eddie Richardson in that excellent victory. Ryan Hopkins returns for his first appearance of the new season, with Donncha Tucker also coming into the side. Barry McCarthy’s form with the bat has been a huge boost to the side so far this season, whilst both captain Theo Lawson and international Lorcan Tucker both contributed nicely to Monday’s chase. Their form will be key yet again in allowing the side to outscore their opposition.
The Hills batting line-up made light work of a straightforward chase on Monday afternoon, with Murray Commins getting his season up and running with an unbeaten half-century. Bhavesh Lakhotia returns to the side at the top of the order this weekend, and The Hills will hope he can weather what is sure to be a tough opening spell from the Sydney Parade side. With the ball, Blignaut, Bain and Weldon have all shown an aptitude for taking wickets in the opening weeks, but it's really been skipper Tómas Rooney-Murphy’s performances with the new ball so far which have caused their opposition the most pressing issues.
After his heroics of the last two weekends with the bat, Barry McCarthy will be the man Pembroke look to with ball in hand to take one of the prize wickets in the province this season, The Hills’ star man Murray Commins, who if he gets going could make the most of the immaculate condition of Sydney Parade’s rapid outfield with his classy array of shots.
KEY BATTLE: Barry McCarthy vs Murray Commins
In Terenure, the two winless sides in Group B face off as Phoenix make the trip to Dublin 6W. Terenure fell foul of a very bad toss to lose on Monday in College Park, eventually seeing chances slip early in the second innings to allow Dublin University run out 9 wicket winners. On the other hand it was in the first innings where dropped catches cost Phoenix dearly, as they allowed Railway run up a decent total before failing to fire with the bat.
Terenure’s batting fires around it’s top three and after getting off to a fine start in Sydney Parade two weeks ago, however last week weren’t so hot out of the traps in decent bowling conditions and could never recover. Séamus Lynch, Danny Wicks and Henry Dall are the key men for the home side in terms of getting a solid foundation and running up a good score. With the ball, James Smith is in line for his second debut for the club for the second weekend in a row after rain put paid to that last Saturday, whilst Raghav Grover and Dylan Cleary will be again looking to put their visitors under pressure after both delivering solid opening spells in Monday’s game.
Phoenix will be hoping that the Leinster Lightning skipper George Dockrell can carry his superb interprovincial form over into club colours for this weekend’s game. With the ball, Oliver Hald has bowled well without too much reward early in the innings even though he did manage to clean up the tail on Monday, whilst Tyrone Kane and Aaron Cawley bring some extra class to the attack. Ben White and Dev Ranolia will be hoping to keep things tighter throughout the middle overs, having both gone for in excess of 50 from their allocations last time out.
Terenure will look to Henry Dall to continue his good form, having been dismissed in unfortunate fashion last weekend. Phoenix’s Oliver Hald will be the main threat for the ‘Nix early doors as they try to get in amongst their hosts’ middle order.
KEY BATTLE: Henry Dall vs Oliver Hald
Next up, North County visit College Park to face off against the unbeaten Dublin University who will be out to avenge last season’s winner-take-all defeat in their final round robin game against the Inch men. North County have been on both sides of eventful final over thrillers in the opening couple of fixtures and will be aiming to have a less stressful day this time out no doubt!
The away side have seen Malcolm Nofal threaten to make a really big score on his two outings so far, only to be dismissed having appeared imperious in his innings to that point. They will be looking in his direction for some big runs this weekend. Andrew Sheridan and Eddie Richardson have both also looked in good form so far, and they will be hoping to contribute again, whilst a solid start from opener Niall McGovern will be a major help to the side in their quest to put together a big total. Abdul Ghaffar’s pace bowling has been on-song thus far this season and if he can continue his good rhythm could cause some major problems for DU’s top order players. Whilst John Mooney and Sean Sludds both bowled well last week in Pembroke’s miracle final ball run chase.
The Students were clinical last week in ensuring they ran out 9 wicket winners over Terenure in College Park, chasing a below par total they were stoic in their early defence and cashed in later in the innings, with openers David Vincent and Sanil Gupta putting together a mammoth opening stand in terms of overs faced, before the DU skipper saw the game home alongside wicket-keeper Nicolaas Pretorius. With the ball, Mikey O’Reilly and Theo Dempsey provide good early threats with the new ball, last week’s good start exemplifying this. Whilst leg-spinning father-son duo of Conor and Gavin Hoey provide an extremely high level of skill and control.
College Park’s wicket is more than likely set to offer some assistance to the spinners in the middle overs of this weekend’s fixture, and with North County’s main man Nofal likely to be at the crease when Gavin Hoey marks out his run up, it’s likely that their battle could be crucial in how the game pans out.
KEY BATTLE: Gavin Hoey vs Malcolm Nofal
Finally Railway Union host Malahide in their first home game of the season, with both sides coming into the game off the back of results at the opposite end of the scale on Monday. Railway pulled off what some would call a shock win against Phoenix, however to say that would be an injustice to the talent in their side, whilst Malahide would have no qualms with saying they were absolutely hammered in a poor performance in The Vineyard.
A major positive for Malahide last week was the return of David O’Halloran from injury, whilst his bowling didn’t quite go to plan, it’s a big boost to the side to welcome him back into the team, Jimmy Newland and Diarmuid Burke will support him with the ball, whilst much of the batting for the away side will rely on Aussie Ryan Hackney seeing off Railway’s opening burst, with support to come from Callum Riches and Fintan McAllister, whilst the Doyle brothers, Adam and Aaron will look to be stepping up their imposing batting styles to first team level.
Railway on the other hand owe a great deal to Kenny Carroll who’s runs on Sunday saw them post a good score, he was supported well by contributions from opening partner Akhil Prakash, and throughout the middle order with Liam McCarthy being the next best contributor. If they can continue that pattern into this weekend, they will be sure to make a total which challenges the Malahide batting line-up. With the ball, McCarthy and Alan Mathew opened up superbly last weekend, but it was first change bowler Hashir Sultan who took an excellent 4 wicket spell for just 19 runs to cut Phoenix back to an unthreatening 157 all out. Those three will be looked to again this weekend for wickets as they seek to attack a Malahide batting line-up low on confidence.
Railway skipper Liam McCarthy has been bowling nicely in recent weeks, and after a spell with the Munster Reds under his belt this week, will be looking to lead by example, if he can knock over Ryan Hackney, he could expose Malahide’s underbelly early in the piece, from which point it would be a question of whether they can recover in a manner they couldn’t last weekend.
KEY BATTLE: Liam McCarthy vs Ryan Hackney
SPORTSHUB SENIOR LEAGUE CUP – MAY 7TH
At Observatory Lane – Leinster vs YMCA
At The Mardyke – Cork County vs North Kildare
In Balbriggan – Balbriggan vs Clontarf
In Anglesea Road – Merrion vs Rush
At Sydney Parade – Pembroke vs The Hills
At Terenure – Terenure vs Phoenix
In College Park – Dublin University vs North County
In Park Avenue – Railway Union vs Malahide