For the first time in Cricket Leinster in many, many years, there were four divisions of women’s cricket. The first of our reviews sees us take a look at a competitive Sprint Coatings Division 2 season. This was the only Division that saw the top four finishers play semi-finals with the two winners playing a final.
2019 saw Leinster CC dominant in the province, winning Division 1, 2, and 3, but the Rathmines club didn’t have it all their own way in 2020. With a league-cup format in Division 2 and four teams out of six getting the opportunity to play in a knock out semi-final, there was plenty for all the teams to play for.
Indeed, the two finalists – YMCA 2 and Phoenix 1 – improved as the season went on, eventually going into the final having finished third and fourth in the league tables respectively.
Rush 1 and Leinster 2 finished the regular season in first and second place in the league tables, but were both shocked in the semi-finals by the improving YMCA and Phoenix teams.
Rush opener Rebecca Gough topped the run-scoring charts, scoring 186 runs in her five matches at just over 37. Her teammate Laura Carthy joins her in the top five with 109 runs at 27 putting her in fourth place. Siuin Woods takes second place making 158 in her six games at 31. The other two slots in the top five come from Phoenix, Ella Pasley third with 122 at 20 and Georgina Dempsey in fifth with 99 with an average just below 20.
And it was again Rush that dominated the top bowling performers in Division 2, skipper Emma Ryan the highest wicket-taker with 13, her best figures were 5-15. Rebecca Gough featured again, third along with Ali Keenan in terms of wickets taken (9); Gough’s impressive average of 6.44, as opposed to the Phoenix bowler’s 11, putting her in the higher spot. Phoenix’s Georgina Dempsey is the other player to feature in both the batting and bowling; she comes second with 11 wickets and best figures of 5-9. YMCA’s Sarah Brownlee rounds out the top five, taking seven wickets at 10 and with best figures of 4-9.
The first of the semi-finals was the Ali Keenan (5-0-19-5) show as the Phoenix swing bowler tore the heart out of Rush’s batting line-up. Georgina Dempsey (5-1-12-2) also impressed while Diya Syam (2.1-0-4-2) was the other wicket-taker.
Rush managed to set a target of 64, and at 3-16 it looked as if Phoenix might snatch defeat from the jaws of victory as Emma Ryan (4-1-15-3) accounted for both openers and the dangerous Georgina Dempsey. Once again, Keenan (20*) took the game by the scruff of the neck and ensured no further wobbles would prevent her team making the final. Phoenix eventually ran out winners by five wickets.
In another low-scoring semi-final, YMCA never let Leinster get going as the wickets were spread around. Joanna Loughran (20) put up staunch resistance before she fell victim to the legspin of Roisin Staunton (3-0-9-2). All of the YMCA bowlers were disciplined, with Emma McEvoy (3-0-8-3), Amelia Flanagan (4-0-17-2), Zoe Hoffman (3-0-9-2) and Sarah Ruttle (1-0-1-1) the other wicket-takers.
In reply, YMCA’s Siuin Woods (22) and Zoe Hoffman (17) put on an opening stand of 30 before the latter was dismissed by Sue O’Connor (4-0-13-1) and when Woods was accounted for by Rhiann Slevin (2-0-7-0), Leinster will have felt they have a slight chance defending 66. Roisin Staunton (1*) and Emma McEvoy (19*) made no mistake, however, as they ensured a final berth for their team.
Following two low-scoring semi-finals, a free scoring final was a joy to see. A mature performance from Siuin Woods (50) and Zoe Hoffman (34) laid the platform for a solid YMCA batting display. Their opening stand of 81 dominated the first innings, indeed Woods only departing in the last over. Ali Keenan (5-0-28-1) and Lucy McNaught (2-0-6-1) were the two wicket takers for Phoenix.
A solid second-wicket partnership of 65 between Lucy McDonough (35) and Ella Pasley (34) after the earlier dismissal of Hannah McGuckin (10) put Phoenix in sight of their target of 114, but they were running out of time when Georgina Dempsey (19*) came to the crease. The hard-hitting number four scored her runs in just eight deliveries but just didn’t quite have enough time to hand her side the win, Phoenix finally falling two runs short in a high-quality final.