As the Mason Alexander / LHW Financial Services Premier League enters the business end of the season with five rounds to go, every match matters. Weather permitting, and with heavy over night rain and more showers forecast there is the possibility that refixes may be required, we should know this evening if the fissures in the league table that appeared last weekend will grow any wider. As things stand we have groups of three teams at the top and bottom of the table and two teams who occupy the middle space.
This round two fixtures stand out - at either end of the table - as likely to have a major bearing on final outcomes. Last weekend North County’s close win over Merrion brought them into the top tier from whom the likely winner of the league will emerge. Today they go head to head with the other member of this group, Clontarf, who travel to Inch. Despite their loss during the week in their Alan Murray T20 QF, North County have improved through the season and will be a big test for the visitors. If the home team can extract another win this will put them in a strong position [having played their main rival twice] for the final run in.
North County: Niall McGovern, Jamie Grassi, Malcolm Nofal, Craig May, Eddie Richardson, Tomas Sheil, Safdar Ali, Andrew Sheridan, Adam Coughlan, Cian Mulvaney, Sean Sludds.
Clontarf: No team submitted.
The second key fixture takes place at the other end of the table where the two bottom teams clash. For Leinster, replicating the plot of a fantasy novel, the rest of the season is likely to consist of a series of last stands of ever more challenging proportions. With five games remaining, and at least three wins required, Leinster afford to let this one get away. Phoenix, who are their opponents in Rathmines, have the opportunity to move away from the relegation spot but they need to arrest their recent run of poor form. So perhaps not quite a most win game for Phoenix but not far off it.
Leinster: G. Dockrell [C], G. Delany, H. McDonnel, M. Patel, J. Carroll, JP O'Dwyer, F. O'Sullivan, S. Bahadur, B. Azhar, E. McKay, A. Clough.
Phoenix: Brad Kneebone [C], Rory Anders, Fletcher Coutts, Reinhardt Strydom, Louis McDonagh, Stephen Black, Gordy Miller, Ben White, Adam Chester, Dave Vernon, Theo Dempsey
How much will depend on the performance of the two floaters - Pembroke and YMCA - who with five wins each occupy the middle space in the league table. Though nothing is settled and a late season loss of form or a series of wins could upset predications, at the moment they are looking reasonably safe from relegation but perhaps too far behind the leading group to compete for top honours. But the lessening of pressure may make them all the more dangerous opponents.
Today Pembroke travel the short distance to Anglesea Road to take on the current leaders Merrion. Having lost last weekend the home team need a win to maintain their position at the top of the table. Pembroke’s form has been mercurial - prone to batting collapses but also capable of very big totals. Which Pembroke team will turn up today?
No teams submitted.
In the final game YMCA host The Hills. YMCA have done just enough to maintain a mid table position despite being short some major players through injury and will be hoping to field strengthened sides for the final stages of the competition. The Hills, on the other hand, have suffered two heavy defeats this month and may need a win [if Phoenix beat Leinster] to keep them above the play-off spot.
YMCA [from]: Tector J, Murphy S, Gunning O, Tector H, Tector T, Gamble R, Thompson M, Parkinson J, Barnes J, Flanagan P, Streek S, Abassi A.
The Hills: Nicolaas Pretorius [C], Harry Archer, Mark Donegan [W], Max Sorensen, Daya Singh, Albert van der Merwe, Tomas Rooney Murphy, Nazeer Shoukat, Andy Kavanagh, Luke Clinton, Cian Nulty.