Tonight sees the second round of league fixtures in Sprint Coatings Women’s Division One with three further ties being played, all on the north side of the city.
Phoenix have the shortest away trip to contend with, as they head to Clontarf. Both of these sides beat The Hills last week by very contrasting margins, and both also suffered heavy defeats at the hands of Leinster.
The key to Phoenix’s team this season has to be the emergence of Lara Maritz’s ability with the bat, she’s been at the crease for 39 of the 40 overs they’ve batted for so far, scoring 188 runs and being dismissed only off the final ball of the innings in Skerries last Thursday. If she’s firing on all cylinders again, they will be a very tough side to stop for Clontarf. With the ball, Zara Craig made a big impact on her debut last week for ‘Nix, going for just 7 from her four overs, whilst Georgina Dempsey’s impact with the new ball will be vital to keeping ‘Tarf’s batting quiet.
The Castle Avenue side meanwhile haven’t been as potent with the bat as their opponents tonight, however their bowling performance against The Hills was excellent, defending just 108 by a relatively comfortable nine runs in the end. Captain Emma Butler lead the attack well that day, and her new ball bowling will be crucial to the home side, if they can get Maritz out early they will feel a real chance of testing the rest of the Phoenix batting order. With the bat, there haven’t been any heavy contributions, Christina Coulter-Reilly’s 43 their top score last week, and it’s likely they will need someone to make a big score in order to beat Phoenix tonight.
KEY BATTLE: Georgina Dempsey vs Emma Butler
The second game sees Leinster, off the back of two convincing wins last week, travel to Malahide, who having suffered a tough loss against Merrion, put in a far better performance in defeat against Pembroke, and it’s that improvement between the two games that coach Michael Hingston will have been most happy with. Their batting remains quite top heavy, Amy Hunter’s classy stroke play will need to be in absolute top form if they are going to score enough runs to be in the game against the Rathmines side, whilst Caoimhe McCann’s side will be looking to Beth Deacon and Sarah Condron as their two main wicket taking threats for this week’s tie.
Leinster on the other hand have threats that most people are well aware of at this stage, just 5 batters have seen time at the crease so far as they have scored at 10.4 runs per over throughout their 29.4 overs of batting so far. Sophie MacMahon and Ellen Ridgeway have posted two 50-partnerships inside the power play overs already, and with Laura Delany at number 3, it really is a free scoring line-up. If these three get off to another flier tonight, it could be a very tough task for Malahide. With the ball, Ava Canning’s brilliant start to the season in the Super Series has carried in to the start of the club season and her new ball bowling will be put right to the test facing up to Malahide’s Hunter this evening.
KEY BATTLE: Amy Hunter vs Sophie MacMahon
The featured game of the evening will come from The Hills, where Merrion are the visitors. The home side were on the wrong end of the result in both games last week and will look to the batting of Tess Maritz, Clíodhna O’Reardon and Jane Maguire to help them make a total which will see them in the game against the Anglesea Road side. Maguire will again be important with ball in hand along with Aisling Byrne who, although expensive last Thursday, did eventually manage to take the wicket of Lara Maritz, something which no other bowler has looked like doing so far.
Merrion meanwhile didn’t play a league game last week, but put together a consummate performance to see off Malahide in the first round of the cup. Their spin attack was in full flow last Tuesday, accounting for 7 of the wickets which they took, Sadbh Breslin’s 3/20 being the pick of the attack in a game where the services of Rebecca Stokell, who had found herself playing a big role with ball in hand last season, weren’t even called upon. They do however still have three other international spinners to call on in Raack, Delaney and skipper Leah Paul in a formidable bowling attack which is now boosted by the emergence of young seamer Niamh McNulty at first team level. With the bat, Stokell and Paul are still probably the most dangerous opening pair in the league, and the fact it took them just 7.4 overs to see off 78 runs last week goes a long way towards proving that point. Stokell’s form is likely to be very important if Merrion are to look to put together a string of results this season.
KEY BATTLE: Tess Maritz vs Rebecca Stokell
We chatted to Leah Paul of Merrion about the game this evening. She was very happy about the way the season started last week;
“We were delighted to get our season started with a strong team performance against Malahide last week. It was great to have Sadhbh Breslin back in the team after not being around much last year. She immediately showed her skill, taking 3 wickets and effecting a run out.”
Looking at the game tonight – Leah gave us a glance at what her team make-up is going to be like;
“This week we will welcome Julianne Morrisey back after missing last week’s game. She will add to our already predominantly spin attack and is always reliable with the ball in hand. We are privileged to have some young guns coming through in Niamh MacNulty, Isabel Light and Ally Boucher and we are excited to see how they fair this week against The Hills and throughout the season.”
Finally continued to acknowledge the strength of The Hills side and players they are wary of causing Merrion a challenge;
“It is great to see a bunch of players returning to play for The Hills this season with the likes of Katie Boylan and Ais Byrne, and along with a few players from the NCU, it will no doubt be a good game.”