MERRION returned to the top of the Premier League table with a comfortable five wickets victory over Phoenix, helped by Clontarf beating YMCA in the match of the day at Claremont Road.

Skipper Dom Joyce, with 84, scored almost half of Merrion’s 188 in their successful chase after Dave Langford-Smith and Tom Stanton each took three wickets as the visitors lost their last seven for 54.

Sameer Dutt and David Delany, who has lost his place in the Leinster Lightning side for today’s inter-provincial Cup game against Northern Knights at The Hills, shared eight wickets as Clontarf bowled out morning leaders YMCA for 194 and an unbroken fourth wicket stand of 104 between Obus Pienaar and Andrew Poynter eased ‘Tarf to victory seven overs quicker.

Pienaar hit 10 fours and two sixes in his 86, from 81 balls and former international Poynter, whom Clontarf will lose to his coaching duties with the Ireland Women’s side next weekend, had an even better strike rate, with 61 from 50 balls, including eight fours and two sixes.

Just three points separate the top two and North County are seven points further back in third after hammering Pembroke by 140 runs at Balrothery.

Malcolm Nofal dominated the home side’s total of 299-8, scoring his second successive century, 160 from 136 balls, with 13 fours and eight sixes although skipper Niall McGovern kept up with him in a second wicket stand of 159 before he was caught for 73.

Jack Balbirnie upstaged his older brother, Test player Andrew, to top score for Pembroke with 61 but they never threatened victory and now have only Leinster below them in the league table after The Hills’ big victory at Rathmines.

Lightning coach Albert Van der Merwe took 5-13 as Leinster were bowled out for 112 inside 29 overs in reply to The Hills 270-6, Max Sorensen top scoring with 54.