Note; This article was written in advance of the ruling which precludes Northern based players from competing in the Sprint Coatings Women's Senior Cup.
The first round of the Sprint Coatings Women’s Senior Cup gets underway this evening, with three of the four first round ties taking place.
The tie between Pembroke and YMCA will have to wait until July 6th, but there are some enthralling battles set to be fought out nonetheless.
The Hills welcome Clontarf in the first of these games, and the home side will be hoping Jane Maguire continues the form with the ball that saw her earn a call-up into the Ireland squad for the recent series against Scotland. Maguire has been very impressive thus far in the Super Series and her wicket taking ability will be vital to the hosts. Meanwhile Tess Maritz will be looking to continue her good form from last season against her former club, while Clíodhna O’Riordan and Miranda Andrews will provide support in the middle order. Clontarf are boosted by the return of Isobel Joyce who will offer a huge amount of experience in support of captain Emma Butler. Their bowling attack is strengthened with Cara Murray returning to the squad for the first time since 2018 to support last year’s spearheads Molly Butler and Christina Coulter-Reilly. Meanwhile Anna Kirk and Aoife Brennan will be hoping to build on some good showings with the bat in the 2020 season which saw them top the run scoring charts for their side.
Merrion travel to Malahide where they face one of the stars of last season in Amy Hunter, no doubt if she can pick up where she left off in 2020 there will be just a glimpse as to why the youngster earnt her debut in the recent international series. For much of last season Caoimhe McCann was at the other end accompanying Hunter to some huge scores, the pair will be vital to Malahide’s chances of overturning a Merrion side that is likely to include no less than 4 current internationals. Anna Kerrison and Maria O’Halloran led the way with the ball for the home side in 2020, and they will both be important to their side again in a game where wickets will be crucial. Merrion look as formidable a force as you will find in the Women’s Competitions this season. In Leah Paul and Rebecca Stokell they boast an opening partnership that occupied the 2nd and 3rd positions in the batting charts in Division 1 last season. That’s before mentioning Rachel Delaney who was dismissed just once for her 115 runs in the season, form she has carried in to this year’s Super Series, proving extremely hard to dismiss in her opening slot. With the ball, Celeste Raack joined Stokell atop the wicket-taking charts last year, however Paul will be the main danger to Malahide after her left-arm-spinning exploits with the ball earned her the player of the series gong in the T20Is played in Stormont recently.
The final tie on Tuesday will be the featured game for coverage on Cricket Leinster in the Senior Cup this week and is the visit of Leinster to Phoenix.
The home side have strengthened their side significantly in the off-season, with Lara Maritz joining after two seasons in Australia, she’s accompanied by Ashlee King, the former Perth Scorchers rookie who has moved to Ireland now too. From slightly closer to home, Alana Dalzell and Zara Craig have joined the side, making the move from the North West. These four being added to the squad which came so agonisingly close to the Division 2 title in 2020 makes them a force to be reckoned with, they are sure to have their eyes on more than just holding their own in a competition like the Senior Cup.
Coach Amy Kenealy was full of praise for the new additions, saying; “The addition of Ash and Lara to the Phoenix women’s setup has been incredible. You only have to look at their performances in the Super Series and Celtic series versus Scotland to see the types of competitors they are. In their short time they have already become fantastic mentors to their team mates and the women’s 2s. They have also been working hard in our coaching setups as well, sharing a wealth of knowledge to our youth and men’s section.”
Regarding their jump from Division 2 to Division 1, Kenealy is upbeat and optimistic about Phoenix’s ability to cope; “The jump from Div 2 to Div 1 hopefully won’t be too much of an issue. Although our side is young many of the team have played Div 1 50 overs as guests in other clubs, super series and in the Irish set up. Their ability to bounce back in tough situations has really impressed me, as well as a willingness to learn and adapt.
I’m really excited to see the team progress through the season and put a Phoenix stamp in top division. And I know the team will relish the challenge.”
Meanwhile Leinster remain consistent in the main, with much of their squad unchanged and having experienced league-winning campaigns in the last three seasons in Division 1. They will be able to call on internationals Laura Delany, Sophie MacMahon and Ava Canning this season, whilst Jenny Sparrow was recently called into the extended squad for the series with Scotland. Canning and MacMahon will likely lead the bowling attack, while the batting line-up is full of depth, it was never really tested last season, just 7 players batted as only 11 wickets were lost in their 5 games. Rebecca Rolfe and MacMahon leading the way in that department. They will hope to continue that disciplined form into the coming season.
Coach Rob O’Connor is really looking forward to the new season, he commented;
“Everyone is very excited to get back out there. While we obviously want to progress to the next round of the cup, the priority is to make sure everyone enjoys themselves and make sure everyone contributes on the night, as much as possible. It’s been a hard winter for everyone so our goal is to make the summer one to remember.
While pre-season has been challenging with no opportunity to play any friendlies, I have been delighted to see the progress the squad has made over the last few weeks. Young players who have been moving up the ranks are now starting to challenge for places on the 1sts so it should be a very competitive season.
All in all, it’s just great to be back, and getting to play, coach and watch club cricket again.”
Sprint Coatings Women’s Senior Cup Round 1 - June 8th
The Hills vs Clontarf – Milverton, 18:00
Malahide vs Merrion – Malahide, 18:00
Phoenix vs Leinster – Phoenix, 18:00 – Featured game with full Cricket Leinster coverage