This week sees the second full round of fixtures in the Sprint Coatings Women’s Division One season, and there are four ties all on the northside of the City to look forward to this evening. After week one, full point victories for Malahide and Pembroke see that pair locked together atop the table, with Merrion the other side to get off to a winning start, whilst Leinster and YMCA played out a tie in the final game to finish last Thursday evening.
The first game we’ll look at tonight is in The Vineyard, where Leinster visit The Hills. The home side were boosted last week by the arrival of overseas player Robyn Searle however she didn’t fire on her first start for the Skerries side and will be hoping to make a positive impact in her home debut. Captain Jane Maguire produced an excellent opening bowling spell as her side has become accustomed to from her in the last few seasons, however others struggled to retain control, possibly in some ways down to the pressure of trying to defend a small total against a strong Pembroke side. Katie Boylan is also in the side for The Hills this evening and adds some depth to the bowling, she is likely to support Maguire with the new ball. Maguire and Searle will be the important players at the top of the batting order for The Hills, and a good start will be imperative for them against another strong opposition.
Leinster are captained by Sophie MacMahon and boast a generally strong side, even if they are missing a couple of international players still. MacMahon will be supported on the seam-bowling front by Ava Canning, Jenny Sparrow and Sue O’Connor, whilst with the bat Joanna Loughran is likely to move up the order to account for some of the players who the Rathmines side are without this evening. The skipper is still probably the most important wicket in the side, but The Hills will need to be wary of the ability of both Canning and Sparrow to score quickly with their boundary hitting.
Given their reliance on their top order, The Hills will really be hoping that overseas Robyn Searle can stamp her authority on this game. Ava Canning has a knack for taking wickets in the power-play and their match-up at the top of The Hills innings could well be crucial.
KEY BATTLE: Robyn Searle vs Ava Canning
Pembroke travel across the East-Link to face a Clontarf side who will have been encouraged by a lot of the cricket they played against Merrion last time out. The visiting side will have plenty of talent to call upon yet again this evening, Mary Waldron skippers a side containing powerful batting threats in Shauna Kavanagh, Orla Prendergast and Lou Lou Little who is off the back of a half-century last week, whilst with the ball Prendergast’s pace is complimented by the control of Anna Beale and Mhairi Nicoll. Louise McCarthy also makes a welcome return to the side having missed a considerable amount of cricket due to injury in recent times.
‘Tarf on the other hand are a much less experienced side that rely heavily on their top four batters to lay the foundations for a strong performance. Aoife Brennan and Anna Marshall gave the side a good footing last week, however once their wickets fell they found it difficult to rotate the strike and could only score when capitalising on some poor bowling. With the ball, Julie McNally bowled an excellent spell in the middle overs, whilst Cara Murray and Emma Butler are the sides two most experienced bowlers and as such will bowl at crucial stages of the innings, wickets for one of those two will be desperately needed if they are to stunt Pembroke’s explosive batting unit.
Orla Prendergast’s opening spell will be crucial in the scheme of this game, as it could put Pembroke right in amongst Clontarf’s inexperienced line-up early, or if played well could allow the home side get a good foothold in the game, Aoife Brennan will be battling with her at the top of the order for ‘Tarf most likely and if she can get a few boundaries away early is sure to settle any nerves there may be.
KEY BATTLE: Aoife Brennan vs Orla Prendergast
Up next we see Merrion travel to Malahide in a game between two victors in round one. Whilst Malahide brushed aside Phoenix with relative ease, Merrion were made to work hard for their runs and wickets at home to Clontarf and will be wary they cannot let their guard drop against the strongest opening pair around. Caoimhe McCann and Amy Hunter picked up last Thursday from where they left off at the end of last season, the pair punish any loose deliveries they are served clinically and are Malahide’s trump card without any doubt.
Merrion on the other hand have quite a well rounded side in general however this week in spite of welcoming back Rebecca Stokell and Rachel Delaney, they are without Leah Paul and Celeste Raack, who provided an awful lot of the runs in last week’s total. Isobel Joyce also batted excellently last week in adding some runs at the back end of the innings. With the ball, Merrion will no doubt miss their spin twins of Paul and Raack, with Delaney likely to contribute four overs in an effort to help offset that loss. Niamh MacNulty and Julianne Morrissey are Merrion’s main wicket taking threats for their pace and nagging accuracy respectively and both will need to be on form this evening.
Malahide’s opening pair will need to be firing on all cylinders against this strong Merrion side, with the Ballsbridge side more than likely looking to their excellent opening bowler Niamh MacNulty to knock over one of the pair early doors.
KEY BATTLE: Caoimhe McCann vs Niamh MacNulty
And finally we get to Phoenix, where YMCA are the visitors this evening. The home side suffered a jarring 10 wicket loss at the hands of Malahide last week, having gotten off to a moderate start with the bat they fell in a heap relatively quickly before being absolutely blitzed off the park in the chase. It’s a very young side though and they will certainly learn quickly from that experience. Nevedha Saravanarajan will lead the batting efforts whilst with the ball they will look to Ali Keenan and Alison Black to provide some tight bowling in an effort to take wickets.
YMCA on the other hand had a tie last week in a game they will feel they could so easily have gotten over the line in. There was an impressive debut from Georgina Dempsey, whilst Alice Tector also bowled very tidily as they restricted Leinster’s powerful batting side to a modest enough total. With the bat this evening Dempsey will be supported by Sarah Forbes, both players have a proclivity for finding the boundary and as a result, tend to do their scoring quite quickly, this is something Phoenix will need to be well on top of if they are to have any chance of outscoring their visitors in this game.
With Sarah Forbes’ boundary hitting a primary concern for the home side, they will be looking to Alison Black to provide good tight early bowling and take a couple of wickets which will allow the side into the game.
KEY BATTLE: Alison Black vs Sarah Forbes